“Own the Moment” by Hillsong NYC Pastor Carl Lentz presents the church’s brand of hip, approachable Christianity, according to the New York Times Books section. The story turned to CRCC’s Richard Flory to understand the roots of Hillsong’s use of pop culture and celebrity.
Richard Flory, the senior director of research at the University of Southern California’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture, said that evangelicals have a long history of hitching their Christianity to famous people as a way of drawing in congregants and making believers feel validated. Billy Graham had ties to Ronald Reagan, while the athlete Tim Tebow, the former action movie star Chuck Norris and the actor Kirk Cameron, have all been visible about their faith.
“That kind of celebrity culture weaves through evangelicalism really from the early 20th century,” Mr. Flory said. “‘Here’s this enormously successful person, and they believe like I do.’”
Photo Credit: Mark Seliger / Simon & Schuster