Justin Bieber’s recent New York visit reportedly led to a detour from skateboarding at parties to looking for a private pool in Manhattan so he could be baptized by Hillsong Church NYC. It seems the star believes spiritual help can uplift and protect him at this dangerous time.
But if the singer’s “‘bad boy” image cleans up, how will those that profited from it react?
One of two sources told the New York Post’s Page Six: “Justin and his team spent time on Saturday searching for a place with a pool where they could conduct a baptism for him, a cleansing ritual, with the Hillsong Church. But they couldn’t find a place in time,”
Another insider added, “Justin is serious about his Christian faith, and after recent events, he needed to take a pause.”
Bieber, who left NYC on Monday after a less-than-welcome round of Super Bowl events, was apparently unable to find a suitable locale for a baptism. However, the impression from Page Six’s report is that he is determined to do so.
The 19-year-old – whose mother, Pattie Mallette, is an openly Christian, best-selling author and inspirational speaker – spoke often of his faith in the past.
But, from last year onward, Bieber has been accused of being anything but a good example.
Currently at a triple threat crossroads where his liberty is now at risk, Bieber recently racked up two criminal charges within one week and is still a suspect in an ongoing felony vandalism case, related to a neighbor accusing him of egging his home in Calabasas, California.
A people’s petition to have Bieber deported was launched after he and pal, R&B singer Khalil Amir Sharieff, were arrested on suspicion of DUI during what police described as an illegal, street drag race.
As well as DUI, Justin is charged with resisting arrest without violence, and driving without a valid license. A later toxicology report revealed he had marijuana and Xanax in his system at the time of arrest. The Canadian has also been charged with assault over an alleged attack on a limousine driver in Toronto last year.
Small wonder, then, that the young star is feeling the heat and seemingly wants to reconnect with a belief system that was central to his childhood, but appears to have lapsed for over a year.
Bieber’s longtime friends – Pastor Carl Lentz of Hillsong NYC church and The City Church leader Pastor Judah Smith – were seen with the singer when he filmed an interview with The Hollywood Reporter last October [later published November 29), and the star has previously tweeted photos and messages to both pastors.
(Photo: Bieber praying with Pastors Lentz and Smith and another in October 2013)
Last September during New York Fashion Week, Justin tweeted that he “broke down” after attending an “amazing sermon” by Lentz, at Hillsong Church NYC.
In a video posted at its site, the four-year-old Hillsong NYC states it baptizes members in the Gansevoort Hotel rooftop pool.
Now Bieber – who recently had a “cross” tattoo inked and has relinquished much of his skin to religious tattoos – wants to renew his faith in a ritual which involves part or full immersion in water.
Traditionally, this signifies a washing away of old “sin,” and rebirth as a “resurrected” and “cleansed” disciple of Jesus Christ the “Lord.”
(Photo: via Instagram, Bieber’s new “Cross” Tattoo)
Should Bieber go through with a baptism and his behavior radically shape up, the cottage media industry Michael Wolff talked about in his recent The Guardian article – spelling out how the singer’s public struggles represent online traffic gold — may be out of pocket.
“Bad Boy Bieber” is one of the main names in the entertainment news cycle to consistently draw eyeballs, just as Charlie Sheen was during his “winning” meltdown in 2012.
There are too many examples of instances where mainstream media – especially tabloids – have upped Bieber’s ante. This is largely done through repetition of negative stories, non-subtle negativing framing, or inflated, even invented stories.
Citing four of the most recent examples of deliberate wound-rubbing, Radar Online revealed an alleged sex tape of Bieber supposedly performing sex acts on two strippers in a strip club may be about to hit the fan.
“This development could not come at a worse time for the pint-sized pot head,” Radar wrote, adding that the footage reportedly came from the venue’s in-house security camera.
Two days before TMZ published a picture which showed Bieber and his DUI friend, R&B singer Sharieff, sucking the nipples of stripper. While the Workaholics cast have said they are “hella jealous” they don’t have a similar photo, many parents of Bieber’s audience may think otherwise.
Radar’s decision to publish a vicious text exchange on January 20 — purportedly between Bieber and his ex-girlfriend Selena Gomez — previously denounced by TMZ as fake and denied by both sets of reps – was followed by their latest unattributed story claiming Justin once “boasted” about “taking” Gomez’s virginity.
None of the stories are newsworthy. They are designed to maim and reveal a media invested in driving the momentum behind the pop prince’s present crisis.
Wolff noted in his article that, “It is not necessarily clear.. if Justin Bieber is rising or falling, rebranding or self-immolating.”
Baptism rituals can have a powerful effect, both the baptized and those that observe it.
For Bieber, it would presumably represent a chance to start fresh and return the talk to his music and sizable philanthropy.
For the public, it would be a visible sign that he is doing so and a chance to demonstrate forgiveness in action.
As for certain quarters of the media; the way to kill monsters is to accept them.
And live. Anyway.
(Photo: via Huffington Post, Bieber in Guatemala.)