Magazine article The Christian Century

Pop Singer Justin Bieber Also Low-Key Evangelist

Magazine article The Christian Century

Pop Singer Justin Bieber Also Low-Key Evangelist

Article excerpt

With a smooth voice, a signature mop of hair and a string of hits, Canadian singer Justin Bieber has accumulated millions of fans, and last year he sold 3.7 million albums in the United States. Now Bieber's handlers are showcasing another side of the 16-year-old pop sensation: Christian icon for the tween set.

Bieber's faith is on display in the new 3-D concert film/documentary Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, which hit theaters in early February.

Paramount Pictures has screened the movie for faith leaders across the country and distributed spiritual discussion guides--the same tools used to promote The Passion of the Christ and The Blind Side as family-friendly fare.

"People will walk away [from the movie] knowing faith is very important to him," said Scooter Braun, Bieber's manager and one of the film's producers. "As a Christian, he's someone to look up to.... When [fans] are getting the real person is when they can connect to that person."

Bieber has never shied away from faith. He was singing Christian songs on YouTube before he became famous. His born-again Christian mother Pattie Mallette has talked about her spiritual conversion on a Christian TV show and openly shares her beliefs and Bible verses with 281,000-plus Twitter followers.

Bieber's come-from-nowhere climb to become the fourth-ranked top-selling artist of 2010 has given a higher profile to his Christian beliefs, which he also addressed in his autobiography, published last fall, First Step 2 Forever: My Story. "I believe that Jesus died on a cross for my sins," Bieber told Billboard last November. "He's the reason that I'm here."

On his November single "Pray," a departure from his typically pop oeuvre, Bieber sings, "I close my eyes and pray / I close my eyes and I can see a better day." The music video, seen more than 21 million times on YouTube, ends with the written message, "God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer."

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In the new 3-D film, fans will see Bieber expressing his faith; several scenes show Bieber praying before concerts, and Mallette discusses how God brought stability to her life as a single teenage mother.

Paramount's spiritual resource guide suggests that the movie "provides an opportunity to teach our children about the power of hope, prayer, faith and family." It lists discussion points and Bible verses related to the movie, such as "the power of prayer" and "the importance of Godly friendships. …

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