Here is an excerpt:
That’s been the case for decades, according to Richard Flory, the senior director of research and evaluation at the University of Southern California Center for Religion and Civic Culture. Even before the rise of social media, pastors were shining a spotlight on the most famous members of their flocks.
“This has been part of evangelicalism for a long time,” he said.
Christians believe celebrities give them “cultural legitimacy,” which is especially valuable at a time when organized religion in the U.S. is on the decline, Flory said. Pew Research Center recently reported that the percentage of Americans who identify as Christian dropped from 77% to 65% over the past 10 years.
“Churches can use celebrities to burnish their brand,” he said.
But do Christian celebrities actually make good missionaries? Turner, Flory and other religion experts have their doubts.
“I’ve never interviewed anybody who said I go to this church because so-and-so goes there,” Flory said.
Image from YouTube