Remember when Justin Bieber wore a Marilyn Manson t-shirt to the Pentecostal Hillsong Church Conference in Sydney, Australia and the actual Marilyn Manson tweeted about it while the UK’s Daily Mail Online threw all the shade?
Wait! That really happened. Justin Bieber is currently down under attending the five-day conference with around 19,999 other attendees, longtime pal, model Hailey Baldwin, and the singer’s spiritual advisers, Hillsong NYC’s Pastor Carl Lentz and Pastor Judah Smith of the Seattle-based The City Church.
Everything’s been going well. The 21-year-old has been attending the twice daily worship sessions at Sydney’s Allphones Arena where Hillsong’s conference is held. He was also videoed playing drums in a jam with Hailey at #hillsongbackstage. The Biebs enjoyed pool fun at Iceberg’s Bondi Club, got in a spot of practice at a skatepark, before delighting fans with an impromptu meet and greet outside his hotel on Wednesday morning.
And that’s where the Marilyn Manson t-shirt hilarity comes in. During Bieber’s mass selfie-taking with fans, paparazzi snapped photos of the star wearing the said t-shirt. Local press and television networks covered it, followed by the rest of the media.
By Wednesday morning in the U.S., the actual Marilyn Manson tweeted seeming approval alongside a pic of Bieber with a fan.
The Pale Emperor singer wrote, “Preach. Where are you now? Church,” which references Bieber’s collaborative “Where Are Ü Now” single with Jack Ü’s Diplo and Skrillex.
Preach. Where are you now? Church. pic.twitter.com/UHRXq1vfHw
— Marilyn Manson (@marilynmanson) July 1, 2015
Manson followed it up with a tweet directed to Bieber, writing, “@justinbieber the real HELL word,” for some reason.
@justinbieber the real HELL word
— Marilyn Manson (@marilynmanson) July 1, 2015
Hours before Manson’s tweets, Mail Online rolled with its typically inflammatory headline, shrieking, “It’s guaranteed to p**s off a whole lot of Christians!’ Justin Bieber wears Marilyn Manson’s ANTI-CHRIST T-shirt to Hillsong Church conference.”
The tabloid’s quote deliberately gave the impression that it was attributed to the Canadian. However, the report then informed readers that, “According to the Vintage Marilyn Manson Shop, ‘it’s [the t-shirt] guaranteed to p**s off a whole lot of Christians.'”
The paper then claimed that Pastor Lentz wouldn’t approve of the singer’s choice of attire amid Hillsong’s conference, in an article stuffed with over-the-top adjectives describing the Biebs as “blasphemous,” “sacrilegious,” and “ignorant.”
Of Bieber’s t-shirt — which shows a three-faced Jesus wearing the crown of thorns — and reads, ‘See No Truth, Hear No Truth, Speak No Truth,'” the tabloid dialed up to 11 noting that it can be purchased as “merchandise from the Antichrist Superstar collection, which is also the title of the gothic singer’s [Manson’s] second album.”
Doubling down on its coercive narrative, the tabloid stated Manson described himself as the “Antichrist Superstar,” in a transparent attempt to insinuate that Bieber is somehow in league with “Old Nick” simply because he wore a t-shirt.
It’s all a bit low rent. But that is par for the course for Mail Online, whose “showbiz” sidebar is known for either slavishly praising celebrities and public figures or gunning for them.
Inevitably, Mail Online’s report drew a proportion of people who took the bait and filled the comments section with bizarre statements. One user claimed, “75% of people prosecuted in the world are Christians, wonder if he [Bieber] knows that. Bet he wouldn’t dare wear a shirt putting down another religion.”
Others quoted scripture and called Bieber’s Manson t-shirt choice, the “end of times.”
Another user intoned, “In the satanic bible it says… The real satanist is not quite so easily recognized as such. Dont be fooled just because they are at a Christian conference or… refer to God.”
An evidently wiser commenter countered, “‘Devil Worship?’ Seriously??? Is Dungeons and Dragons next on your list of cultural misunderstandings? Since that too is ‘Devil Worship?'”
Another Bieber-defender argued, “What’s idiotic is people getting bent out of shape over a t-shirt. No-one would give a t-o-s-s if it was anyone else.”
Meanwhile, one Bieber fan clearly read the tea leaves hours before today’s storm-in-a-tea-cup, writing the following.
*waits for him to get hate on his shirt instead of people talking about the time he spent taking pics with every fan* pic.twitter.com/M1q1yfSa8J
— jordan (@biebsuschrist) July 1, 2015
Out of the mouths of babes?
— 7 News Sydney (@7NewsSydney) July 1, 2015
— Evangelia (@Angelique_Biebz) July 1, 2015
One of the fans that met Justin today, was Kate, whom he performed for in 2013. He remebered her, asking how she was. pic.twitter.com/k4vFE4RSAc
— JustinBieberCrew.com (@JBCrewdotcom) July 1, 2015
JUSTIN TELLING ME I LOOK INCREDIBLE (even though I was wearing a dressing gown lmao wtf) https://t.co/ELxitL5yDZ
— kate (@BieberMelbourne) July 1, 2015
I have waited 8 years for this moment. pic.twitter.com/kjmbFOGw5N
— I FINALLY MET HIM. (@justinscalvins_) July 1, 2015
Successful day 😊 pic.twitter.com/amTuMgWZCd
— sarah (@TheBiebahKind) July 1, 2015
— carissa (@ausbieberauhl) July 1, 2015
— Priscilla (@pmidon99) July 1, 2015
Thank you for all you have ever done for us. After all of these years, I have finally met my whole entire world. pic.twitter.com/1FUkaXmd6O
— I MET HIM (@grxndeftbiebers) July 1, 2015
— MET MY LIFE 1/7/15 (@samanth88888) July 1, 2015
You know you Stan the right person when he takes his free time out of his day & takes pics with this many fans pic.twitter.com/bm7EhETnNN
— Amanda (@ItsMandizzle) July 1, 2015
[Images via KHAPGG/Twitter]