Justin Bieber, pop music’s most infamous bad boy, has recently garnered headlines for something a little out of the ordinary: his unexpected, in your face, fascinating…faith. Yes, the man-child behind the Internet’s new favorite nudes isn’t just the poster boy for casual mid-day manspreading. The part-time nudist is also a full-time Christian, whose faith-based rhetoric has been even more confusing and inappropriate than Jeremy Bieber’s Twitter presence. From body modifying for the big man upstairs to refusing to concretely say that he is NOT Jesus, Bieber harnesses his spirituality like a rented Lamborghini—ignorantly, recklessly, and in a manner that’s sure to upset and terrify innocent passerby.
Bieber’s ferocious faith recently came to a head after a slate of predominately Muslim countries in the Middle East rejected the Bieb’s new album cover art due to its Jesus Christ, superstar aesthetic. The artwork features a shirtless Justin in a prayer-like position, a cross tattoo pasted on his pecs. While tatting up for the Lord is a time-honored celebrity pastime, Bieber's flagrant body art is apparently beyond the pale. According to TMZ, the tiny titan and his top-notch team are working out alternative covers to appease the pissed-off nations. Bieber is no stranger to offensive behavior—including non-Easter related eggings, atrocious haircuts, and brothel visits. But his out-there statements on his faith might actually be less forgivable than his interview style and ongoing criminal record combined.
When he's not tatting a crucifix on his naked chest (so you know it’s real), Bieber can actually be quite the false messiah. Take, for example, his 2011 Rolling Stone interview, when J. Biebs was still just a shiny haircut Scooter Braun found on YouTube. The rising pop star took advantage of his recent expulsion from the womb to wax philosophical on all things fetus-related, insisting that “I really don’t believe in abortion… It’s like killing a baby.” When asked if his opinion would change in the wake of a rape-related incident, the precocious anti-choice advocate responded, “Well, I think that’s really sad, but everything happens for a reason. I guess I haven’t been in that position, so I wouldn’t be able to judge that.”
When not reticently conceding his lack of a reproductive system, Yung Bieber could be found attending Bible study with his ex-girlfriend Selena Gomez, and tweeting gems like “Every day we wake God blesses us with new opportunities. Be better. Be great.” Noted opportunities to be great include, but are not limited to: the chance to brawl with Orlando Bloom at Ibiza Cipriani, and the gift of being able to maintain a one-wear Calvins disposal policy. #TooBlessedToStress
Bieber is also the most famous member of Hillsong Church, a controversial Pentecostal megachurch that regularly uses government grants yet rakes in up to $50 million-plus a year, whose founder Frank Houston was forced to resign after it was revealed that he’d sexually abused many boys, and whose senior pastor, Michael Guglielmucci, was once suspended for lying about having cancer—even though he’d helped the church profit handsomely from his song “Healer,” about his cancer battle. Oh, and if you’re out at the club in L.A. on any given night, you may find Bieber partying with his spiritual guide—Pastor Joel Houston of Hillsong. Here they are exiting Hyde Nightclub in L.A. back in June.
But La Biebs’ ersatz faith truly peaked in 2015, when the pop sensation let Jesus take the wheel during a Complex magazine profile. The interview, which reads like a series of copy-and-pasted Kanye outtakes (if Kanye ever let anything out), covers more ground than a Bieber drag race.
On the Big Bang: “For a ‘big bang’ to create all this is more wild to think about than thinking about there being a God. Imagine putting a bunch of gold into a box, shaking up the box, and out comes a Rolex. It’s so preposterous once people start saying it.”
On church: "You don’t need to go to church to be a Christian. If you go to Taco Bell, that doesn’t make you a taco.”
On teaming up with Jesus to be your personal therapist: “So all this healing that you’re trying to do, it’s unnecessary. We have the greatest healer of all and his name is Jesus Christ. And he really heals. This is it. It’s time that we all share our voice. Whatever you believe. Share it. I’m at a point where I’m not going to hold this in.”
And on not being Jesus, but actually being kind of like Jesus—not to be weird: “I think that people, as soon as they start hearing me saying I’m a Christian, they’re like, ‘Whoa, Justin, back up, take a step back.’ Also, I do not want to shove this down anyone’s throat. I just wanna honestly live like Jesus. Not be Jesus—I could never—I don’t want that to come across weird.”
So there you have it: Justin Bieber, junior messiah.
All this Jesus talk does begin to explain Bieber’s emotional VMA’s performance, in which he descended from the heavens and was then driven to tears by the magnitude and intensity of his own performance. After all, it’s not hard to blur the line between Belieber and Believer. It takes a true pop messiah to turn a bucket of water into a bucket of pee, or magically transform a sobriety test into a comedic tour de force. Plus, Bieber brings his own unique talents to the table—Jesus himself probably would have gotten a lot more online traffic if he proselytized in the buff. So while J. Bieb might not be canonized just yet, his musical resurrection via Skrillex’s Garageband Pro seems to be offering him a host of media outlets for further faith-based pontification. Here’s praying Bieber keeps talking, never covers up, and stays away from the Anne Frank house.