Celebrities, celebrities. What is a celebrity? Is it like the "in-crowd" in high school? Does it have any meaning?

There are no celebrities in Heaven, at least not in human terms. When we get there, we'll be surprised to see that no one in Heaven is famous, and everyone is. That is: God loves and treats every single person equally. In Heaven, we will see that every person is equally important. God loves each person as if that person is the only person who exists.

But here on earth there are celebrities or "celebrated" people (they used to call them "idols"), and they exert an influence, especially those in Hollywood, often an unfortunate one. What do they believe? How do they view God?

The good news is that most "celebrities" at least believe in a higher force (unlike the world of science, where skepticism rules the roost). A lot of it is vague. Some is New Agey. Here we see what has happened to Oprah Winfrey. But at least there is a sense, among entertainers, of a spiritual dimension.

One of the unlikeliest: hard-rock star Alice Cooper -- who used to sing about necrophilia and chop up dolls on stage and now says that his life "is dedicated to Jesus."

"I've had a couple of people who were friends and have vocally said they have [accepted Christ]," he is quoted as saying. "I have talked to some big stars about this, some really horrific characters, and you'd be surprised. The ones you think are the furthest gone are the ones who are most apt to listen."

Let this be a lesson on not judging by the cover. Indeed, pornographer Larry Flynt was "born again" (at least for a while; he now says he has "left religious conversion behind"), and Britney Spears was often recorded as mentioning her relationship with the Lord (pray for her). The current childhood singing idol, Hannah Montana, said just last week that "I do everything for Jesus."

That's the encouraging side. More complex is how many stars can profess Jesus while they are involved in far less than Godly business.

Earth is a learning place (for us all), is probably the answer. We will not judge. But it is a curiosity.

"I believe in God," says actress Pamela Anderson. "I definitely believe that He is the reason that I've gotten through everything that I have.

"I go to church and my kids go to Sunday school."

We get this all from a book by Roy Comfort called What Hollywood Believes.

Sultry Kim Basinger? What keeps her "centered," she says, is "my faith in God." Liza Minelli? She keeps looking "fantastic," she says, because of "my faith in God and in God through people and I believe that Mother Mary watches over me as well as my own mom."

Everyone knows about Chuck Norris and Pat Boone and Mel Gibson.

Arnold Schwarzennegger?

"I believe in God and I believe, therefore, in the opposite: the devil and evil forces," he has said. "Everyone has their own interpretation of that. Some people think the devil -- they take the 'd' away and you have evil. Is there something up in the clouds? Probably not. But we, as people, are much better off if we do believe in good and evil."

That sounds a bit nebulous. Be that as it may. Another action hero?

"When the road looks rough ahead, remember the Man Upstairs and the word 'hope,'" John Wayne once intoned. "I've always had deep faith that there is a Supreme Being; there has to be. The fact that He's let me stick around a little longer, or She's let me stick around a little longer, certainly goes great with me."


Famed comedian Charlie Chaplin was a non-believer until his later years -- when he said that "to deny faith is to refute oneself and the spirit that generates all our creative forces."

Jack Nicholson? No. Elizabeth Taylor? Yes. Jimmy Stewart? Yes, strongly. Brad Pitt? Yes, but religion for him (he grew up Baptist) is "oppressive." Stephen King? Yes -- but, again, not in the form of religion. Jim Carrey? God is something, somewhere out there.

Not for Loretta Young.

"I believe our Father answers every prayer -- all prayers -- with His matchless, inscrutable wisdom, with infinite compassion and love," she once expressed.

Ronald Reagan? A strong believer.

Martin Sheen? He calls himself a "radical Catholic." (Both Sheen and Loretta Young journeyed to the Catholic apparition site of Medjugorje.)

Bill Maher?

Don't ask.

Andy Griffith? Of course.

Mickey Rooney? "I've given my life to God, and I try and do the right thing, but inevitably, and unfortunately, I do the wrong thing."

There are also those who are celebrated simply because they are rich. There are the high-tech celebrities. At that top of that heap, of course: Bill Gates -- who is married to a Catholic. "I don't know if there's a God or not, but I think religious principles are quite valid," he says.

It is interesting to explore such rationalization.

And Walt Disney, the king of Hollywood, high-tech, and magic?

"I am personally thankful that my parents taught me at a very early age to have a strong personal belief," he once said, "and reliance in the power of prayer for Divine Inspiration."

And then there is the "Man in Black." Johnny Cash. He was a believer who wore that black "for those who've never read or listened to the words that Jesus said" and who himself had to confront the possibility of doubt when he was diagnosed with a serious illness.

"My faith held up beautifully," he is quoted as saying. "I never doubted God, I never got angry at God. I walked with God all the way through. That's why I didn't fear. I never feared anything."