Entries in Faith (2)


Orthodox Jewish Rapper Matisyahu Shaves Off Iconic Beard

Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Orthodox Hasidic Jewish rapper Matisyahu has sported a lengthy beard for years, not as a fashion statement but as part of his religious beliefs. However, the artist has taken a razor blade to his trademark facial hair.

Matisyahu broke the news of his clean-shaven face, with photos of himself sans beard, Tuesday, first on Twitter, saying: "@matisyahu At the break of day I look for you at sunrise … When the tide comes in I lose my disguise." The message is taken from the lyrics of his song Thunder.
Born Matthew Miller, Matisyahu has become the most visibly Jewish artist in hip-hop since his debut album Shake Off the Dust… Arise. His music blends traditional Jewish themes with reggae, rock, and hip-hop beat boxing sounds.

Initially, the 32-year-old artist’s motives behind the drastic shave were unclear, but then Matisyahu followed up his tweet with a simple explanation on his website: “No more Chassidic reggae superstar.”

“Sorry folks all you get is me … no alias. When I started becoming religious 10 years ago it was a very natural and organic process. It was my choice. My journey to discover my roots and explore Jewish spirituality -- not through books but through real life.” Matisyahu wrote. “I felt that in order to become a good person I needed rules -- lots of them -- or else I would somehow fall apart. I am reclaiming myself.”

Although his non-existent facial hair may seem unfamiliar to his fans, he reassured everyone that his music would stay familiar and be something worth looking forward to in 2012.

“Get ready for an amazing year filled with music of rebirth. And for those concerned with my naked face, don’t worry…you haven’t seen the last of my facial hair,” he said in a statement.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Kristin Chenoweth: Christian and Gay Rights Supporter

David Livingston/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Kristin Chenoweth is a study in contradictions.

The diminutive songstress who played a high school dropout on Glee and originated the role of Glinda in Wicked is just as comfortable talking about her Christian faith as she is her support for gay rights.

In a recent interview with The Advocate, she explained how she can hold both dear to her heart.

“I read my Bible and I pray and all of that. I really do,” she told the gay-interest publication. “But at the same time, I don’t think being gay is a sin. Period.”

Chenoweth, 43, who grew up in Oklahoma’s Bible Belt, cited her grandmother as inspiration.

“My [gay] best friend -- I’ve talked about him many times -- his name’s Denny. I asked my Grandma Chenoweth, ‘How can it be that he’s going to hell? I just don’t think that correct.’ And she said, ‘Well, Kris, I read the Bible like I eat fish: I take the meat, and it serves me well, but I don’t choke on the bone.’"

Asked how she would respond to people who cite their Christian beliefs as the basis for discrimination against gays, she said with a laugh, “I would ask, ‘What would Jesus do?’ It sounds so cliché and Pollyannaish, but I have a feeling if he were on the earth today, he wouldn’t be walking around saying, “You’re going to hell” and “You’re wrong, you’re wrong, you’re wrong.” I think he’d be accepting and loving.”

Using her tiny stature as an example, she said, “What would I do if it was a sin to be short? That’s the way God made me, so what could I do? Let’s see, I could wear heels, I could tease my hair, and maybe on a good day I could be 5’1". But the bottom line is, I’m 4’11″ and that’s the way I was put together. And that’s what I believe about homosexuals."

“And I love, love that this has become a purpose in my life. It’s one that I didn’t ever expect,” she added.

Even when straddling the line has cost her.

When Chenoweth was named a spokeswoman in 2005 for a Women of Faith concert in Oklahoma City, promoters demanded her resignation upon learning about her pro-gay stance through an appearance on The 700 Club, which, ironically, upset many of her gay fans. When Chenoweth refused to step down, Women of Faith fired her. Chenoweth told The Advocate it was the saddest moment in her professional life.

And last year, after calling Newsweek writer Ramin Setoodeh’s column about whether gay actors can play straight “horrendously homophobic,” Chenoweth received an online backlash from some disappointed fans.

But she hasn’t let any of it slow her down. With her fourth album, Some Lessons Learned, due out Sept. 13 and a new show on the horizon, ABC’s Good Christian Belles, Chenoweth plans to keep walking her talk. She’s already discussed with Belles creator Robert Harling having her character reflect her own personal struggles.

“There are always people of faith that battle this and think that it’s wrong. I’ve struggled with that. You might see that on the show,” she said. “It makes me happy.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio