Should We Have Faith in Stars' New Beliefs?

Article excerpt

OASIS bad-boy Liam Gallagher last week joined an ever-growing list of celebrities who hit the headlines by announcing they have found religion. Stars, it seems, are increasingly turning to God to cope with the pressures of their fame. But are they genuinely in search of something more meaningful? Or has faith simply become as important to a celebrity's public image as designer sunglasses. JENNY HUDSON discovers why God is now seen as a "cool guy to hang around with"

LIAM Gallagher has always played the part of the rock 'n' roll bad boy to perfection.

With his trademark swagger and habit of attacking photographers, the Oasis singer has left a long trail of bust-ups in his wake.

His marriage to Patsy Kensit often looked precariously shaky as his bouts of drinking and drug-taking spiralled out of control.

So naturally, when he announced last week that he has found religion, there was much amazement and excitement.

It made an irresistible story - the wild man of music, who became a father last month, renouncing his old ways and taking a sober look at parenthood and faith.

Yet it is all very familiar. From former Page Three girl Sam Fox to Jonathan Aitken, there are scores of celebrities who have famously changed from sinner to saint.

The topless model's "awakening" took place in the unlikely surroundings of a studio where she was making a fitness video with boxer Barry McGuigan five years ago. Inspired by make-up artist Fiona Corrigan, Sam declared: "I have a relationship with God - he's a pretty cool guy to hang around with."

Her profession of faith echoed that of Mandy Smith, the ex-convent schoolgirl who dated Rolling Stone Bill Wyman when she was just 13.

She has described the affair as "her big sin" and says she prays for her former lover.

But Jonathan Aitken's admission that he turned to the Catholic Church for comfort when he hit rock bottom received little sympathy after he was imprisoned for lying under oath.

The trouble with the notion that the disgraced former Tory MP, who is planning to study religion at Oxford University when he is released, is that it doesn't wash. The sudden conversion seems suspiciously designed to improve his public image.

Max Clifford - an expert on public image who is behind hundreds of kiss and tell stories - says he prays every morning.

"I thank the lord for all my blessings - my wife, my daughter, health and faculties. I ask for forgiveness of my sins."

Like many celebrities, he does not ally himself with a particular denomination or practice. He stopped going to church when he was nine years old but says that he believes in God and an after-life.

His reluctance to take part in church services and the vague way he talks about his beliefs is typical of many celebrities.

Liam Gallagher said: "I do believe in something. I wouldn't want to put a name to it because that would ruin it."

He used to go to church with his mum, Peggy, but stopped when he started taking drugs. But he revealed how Patsy says a prayer every night before going to bed.

Annie Holden, spokeswoman for the diocese of Lichfield, said celebrity lifestyles often lead people to religion.

"They often come from a background where they have very little materially, then suddenly become immensely wealthy," she said. …