Culture At Large

How often do you pray for Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, and other scandal-prone celebrities?

Andy Rau

You may cringe or roll your eyes at the latest antics from celebrities like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, or maybe you just try to tune them out--but how often do you pray for Hollywood actors and celebrities? A group called the Hollywood Prayer Network coordinates thousands of people who pray for celebrities:

Members of the network, which has chapters in 16 U.S. cities and eight countries, see Hollywood as the 21st century's largest mission field, a powerful industry that can be used to sow the seeds of an international cultural and religious revival.

"We tell people, 'If you're angry at a TV show or you're switching channels because of content, stop and pray for the people on the show,'" said Karen Covell, HPN's founder. "If you really believe in God and you believe God has a transforming power, then leave it up to him."

The article describes two apparent motives that drive the group: compassion for scandal-prone celebrities, and a desire to "win over" people who might serve as strategic spokespersons for Christianity. The first motive is commendable, although the second one strikes me as questionable—the last thing I'd wish on a new celebrity convert is the pressure of being a Hollywood spokesperson for Christ while they're still getting acquainted with the life of faith.

That said, one particularly nice aspect of the ministry is that it also focuses on little-known actors struggling to get into the business—it's not just about converting the super-famous celebrities.

What do you think of this ministry? The idea of "strategic prayer" to win over influential people makes me a little uncomfortable (it seems so impersonal), but responding to Hollywood worldliness with prayer seems a more positive action than boycotting, decrying, or ignoring spiritually-troubled celebrities. What's your take?

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