Chris Pratt has recently been in the news about his Christian faith. Normally we wouldn’t cover that — we’re a site for Jewish millennials, not Christian millennials!

However, one tidbit keeps catching our eye in the coverage: how at 19, Pratt became a Jew for Jesus, which set him on his current Christian path. This doesn’t mean he was Jewish — Jews for Jesus, who are part of Messianic Judaism, aren’t considered Jewish because they believe that Jesus was the messiah. But it does mean people have a lot of questions.

We’re here to break them down for you.

How did Chris Pratt get involved with Jews for Jesus?

It all began in Maui, Hawaii when Pratt was 19… Actually, let’s just use his own words, from an interview with Esquire in 2014:

“In Maui, about four weeks before I was discovered to go to California, I was hanging with my buddy. I wasn’t quite old enough to drink, so we got somebody to go in and buy us some alcohol. This guy came by and was like, ‘What are you doing tonight?’ I was like, ‘Oh, I dunno. I was just gonna wait out here, my friends are gonna buy me a bottle of Carlo Rossi and a sixer of Milwaukee’s Best Ice.

“So he’s like, ‘Will you fornicate tonight?’ I was like, ‘I hope so.’ ‘And drugs and drinking?’ It’s like, ‘Most likely, yeah. Probably all three of those things. I mean, at least two of them, possibly all three.’ He was like, ‘I stopped because Jesus told me to stop and talk to you. He said to tell you you’re destined for great things.’ My friends came out, and I was like, ‘Hey, I’m gonna go with this guy.’ I gave my soul to Jesus within, like, two days. I was stuffing envelopes for his organization, Jews for Jesus. I’m not even sure, at that age — I was nineteen years old — I knew what Jewish was.”

There’s a lot in that, but to summarize:

1. Chris didn’t know what Jews were!

2. Within two days of meeting this guy, he was a Jew for Jesus

What are Jews for Jesus?

Jews for Jesus is a branch of Messianic Judaism. Messianic Jews believe Jesus was the Messiah (which Jews don’t believe); all the major denominations of Judaism reject Messianic Judiasm.

Within Christianity, “Messianic Judaism is sometimes seen as a group within the evangelical community, and sometimes seen as a separate sect. At times, various Christian leaders have publicly criticized Messianic Jews for their aggressive missionizing in the Jewish community and for misrepresenting themselves as Jews.”

You may remember Messianic Jews from that time Mike Pence brought out a Christian rabbi to pray at a campaign event right after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. Major yikes.

Is Chris still a Jew for Jesus?

No.

When did he stop?

We don’t know!

Why is he in the news now?

Because Ellen Page, star of Juno and our hearts, called out his church for being “infamously anti LGBTQ.”

Wait, are Jews for Jesus anti-LGBTQ? 

We don’t know their stance on gay rights. (Well, maybe we do: they have a blog post on their site called “Set Free from the Gay Lifestyle,” encouraging people to “leave” their “gay lifestyle” and “move forward with Jesus.”)

Page was referring to Pratt’s current church, Zoe, which is also connected to the celebrity mega-church Hillsong.

In a 2015 blog post, the founder of Hillsong wrote, “Hillsong Church welcomes ALL people but does not affirm all lifestyles. Put clearly, we do not affirm a gay lifestyle and because of this we do not knowingly have actively gay people in positions of leadership.”

(This guide in The Cut to evangelical churches in Hollywood is super helpful! Justin Bieber is a big Hillsong person too, FYI.)

How do Jews for Jesus feel about Chris Pratt?

In a Facebook post in 2016, they said, “Every time Chris Pratt shares how he was saved through the efforts of Jews for Jesus, it makes us smile.”

How should I feel?

That’s up to you! We just wanted to give you all the info. Bye!

Emily Burack

Emily Burack is an editorial assistant at Alma.