Beliefs Culture Entertainment & Pop Culture Ethics Faith General story Jonathan Merritt: On Faith and Culture Opinion

Justin Bieber performs Christian worship song before thousands

(Image courtesy of Mattias Karisson:

Popstar Justin Beiber is known for many things–from skinny dipping to urinating in public to general troublemaking. But now you can add singing Christian worship songs to that list. On the Purpose Tour in Paris, Bieber broke out into an impromptu sing-a-long of “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever” before tens of thousands of screaming Beliebers. (Videos posted below.)

This isn’t the first time the popular singer has put his Christian faith on display. To wit,

  • In an interview with Complex Magazine Bieber remarked, “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.”
  • He told Cosmopolitan that his favorite song was “No Longer Slaves,” a Christian worship tune from Bethel Music.
  • Bieber got a small cross tattooed on his face. He told E!, “It was a representation of his faith in Jesus and his journey with finding purpose in God.” The singer also has a cross tattoo on his chest and the word “Yeshua,” which is the Hebrew name for “Jesus.”
  • He attempted to get baptized by ministers from Hillsong Church in New York City recently.
  • Bieber let pastor Judah Smith preach a sermon at one of his concerts.

Whether you’re a Bieber fan or not, this kind of public display of faith in conjunction with his other shenanigans might raise questions about whether it’s more helpful for celebrities to broadcast their faith or keep it to themselves. In Bieber’s case, the seeming mixed messages have prompted some conservative Christian critics online to wonder, in the words of one of Bieber’s most popular songs, “What do you mean?


About the author

Jonathan Merritt

Jonathan Merritt is senior columnist for Religion News Service and a contributing writer for The Atlantic. He has published more than 2500 articles in outlets like USA Today, The Week, Buzzfeed and National Journal. Jonathan is author of "Jesus is Better Than You Imagined" and "A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars." He resides in Brooklyn, NY.


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  • The only religiously newsworthy thing here, in a trivial accounting of Justin Bieber’s faith failings, is Mr. Merrit’s assent to accepting comments on his articles.

  • I didn’t know he is someone who kids should look up to unless your telling them it’s alright to sleep around with as many people as u can and it’s alright to to put yourself above others. Plus he needs to read the Bible before he takes to the stage because your not suppose to mark yourself up with tats. Just saying we all make mistakes but before u do what he is doing u ask for forgiveness first & he hasn’t done that. And that doesn’t mean just from God u admit to others u have hurt!

  • Hey, it’s a start. Frankly, it’s a miracle that Bieber has even made it this far (in terms of faith).

    It would be so easy for Bieber to just continue traveling in the opposite direction, like so many other singers and celebrities, including some who began their singing careers in the church.

    So, the current news is a start. Prayers for him.

  • Let him be, at least he is striving to be a good person he knows he is not perfect, I get so tired of all you supposed “Christian’s”who are truthfully so judgmental, let people have their own relationship with God, it’s not for you to judge

  • It’s a tough time for all of us, really, because some folks could seriously use some “Judge-Not” Caring Christians right now, while other folks could seriously use some “Judge-Righteous-Judgment” Caring Christians right now. Including the celebs and pop-culture artists.

    (And then there’s all the folks who are “in between”, who could seriously use six-of-one and half-a-dozen of the other, depending on the day and the issue. C’est la vie.)

    Overall, Bieber’s musical messages are still mixed, very seriously mixed. And those mixed messages are going out to millions of young people, which results in THEM getting mixed up.

    So it is a valid question, to ask out loud “What Do You Mean, Justin Bieber?”, even as (hopefully) lots of heartfelt kindness, love, acceptance, (and accountability!) are being offered to him.

    May Bieber hang onto his willingness to move towards Christian higher-ground, even while he’s dealing with a demon-crazed, wreckage-filled, Total-Cyanide music industry.

  • No one is perfect or will EVER be only GOD! The important things Justin recognize that GOD is LOVE. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 4. Love is patient, Love is kind. It does not envy, It does not boast, it is not proud. 5.It does not dishonor others, it is itself seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7. It always protects, always trust, always hopes, always perseveres.

  • Overly judgemental So-called Christians are the biggest problem facing our church today. You are the reason Christianity is declining among our youth today. This elitist attitude of some in the church has created an even larger divide between us and the rest of the people in the world. The idea that Jesus came to save and died so that “not one” should perish gets completely lost by so many claiming to be part of God’s church. You are no different than the Pharisees of Jesus’ time too busy nitpicking to see the truth before your very eyes. The big commission was put on all Christ followers to spread God’s truth to the lost and weak – you critics are too worried about this kid’s past mistakes to see that he is doing more to grow God’s church than you ever will in your lifetime. Really sad indeed.

  • God bless Justin Bieber. I didn’t think much of him or listen to his music before, but since last year I’ve taken a closer look and, while he’s no saint, I
    appreciate that he seems to keep it real and is trying to be a better person. The guy is under enormous pressure from fame
    and other stuff (a lot of people in his position and his age turn to
    hard drugs or other vices to deal with this). Try to put yourselves in his shoes and see if you’d do a better job.

  • We should only be looking up to God, not other sinners. How can you know if he’s asked for forgiveness? I think we should each worry about our own sin and repentance. In regards to tattoos, which I am personally not a fan of… 1 Samuel 16:7 says… “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

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