Bear Grylls was born in Donaghadee, Northern Ireland and grew up in Bembridge on the Isle of Wight off the southern coast of England.
Grylls is a very devout Christian, an Anglican from the Protestant corner of Ireland. He speaks openly of his faith, often giving motivational presentations to rather large crowds. He describes his faith as the “backbone” that runs through his many, often dangerous, activities. He said:
For me, [my faith is] very unreligious, and it’s not heavy. It’s like finding home.
For Grylls, a relationship with God is a very simple thing. He laments that people try to make it too complicated, or become intimidated by theology or ritual. He said:
…some people are just scared, and they go, ‘Oh, God just wants me to be religious,’ but actually He just loves us. He just wants us to be with Him.
Grylls has been heavily involved with a worldwide organization called Alpha, which hopes to invite people to low-pressure meetings to discuss theological questions in the context of Christianity. Grylls often promotes and speaks at Alpha events. And if you follow him on Twitter, you’ll notice quite a few Bible verses.
Grylls is the son of the late Michael Grylls, a long-serving British Conservative Party member of parliament, who was a champion of right-leaning economics and staunchly loyal to Margaret Thatcher. Toward the end of his career, he was implicated in what would come to be know the “Cash-for-questions” scandal, in which Grylls and his cohorts were accused of skimming money off of payments made by business owners to meet with politicians.
But a man’s father’s politics are not necessarily his own and Bear Grylls has made a few political statements of his own–perhaps most notably as the Chief Scout for the British Cub Scouts. The organization has taken some flak over not living up to its so-called “inclusive” philosophy and requiring a profession of faith to become a member.
Beyond that, Grylls has championed various environmental causes, from circumnavigating Britain on a jet ski fueled by garbage to owning his own wildlife reserve off the coast of Wales. But even this doesn’t come without its critics, with some pointing out that Grylls’ stunts and nature shows are all for the profits of large corporations.
One gets the feeling Grylls doesn’t get too deep into the details–whether it’s the theology behind his faith or the motivation behind his causes. He once said:
I never wanted to be very smart or very rich, I just wanted to follow my dreams and have loads of fun.