Denzel Washington was born and raised in Mount Vernon, New York, near New York City.
Washington is the son of a Pentecostal preacher and a gospel singer. He grew up in an extremely religious household. He said:
My father was a Pentecostal minister for 50 years. We would say prayers for everything and end with, 'Amen, God is love…' The fundamental message is in the Bible, which I've read three times from front to back… If you don't practice love, you're missing the point. I believe in love thy neighbor.
When Denzel's parents divorced when he was 14, Denzel admits to rejecting his religious briefly. He also says that the power of his religious feelings overwhelmed him at one point and he backed away:
I believe that Jesus is the Son of God. I've been filled with the Holy Spirit. I know it's real. I was in the room. My cheeks blew up, I cried like a baby, and it scared me to death. It kind of scared me off [of religion]. I backed up and went the other direction.
Now, Denzel is one of Hollywood's most devout Christians. His faith has influenced the roles he's played and the fact that he's been married to the same woman since 1983, a lifetime by Hollywood standards.
Washington currently attends the West Angeles Church of God in Christ in Los Angeles and even donated $2.5 million to help them build a new facility. He says he has considered becoming a preacher but that he can try to "send a good message" with his film work.
Washington hasn't spoken too much about his political views. Given his religiosity, one might assume he's rather conservative regarding social issues, but that's just conjecture. Washington was a staunch Obama supporter during the 2008 presidential campaign.
Washington gave $30,800 to the Obama campaign that year and defended the president after 2010's mid-term elections ushered in a Republican Congress, saying:
I don't think it's just directed at Obama, I think people are frustrated. You've got to blame somebody, and he's the boss – he's got the big target on his head. I think there's a desire for checks and balances, so now there's a Republican party in Congress, and a Democratic party in the Senate, and a Democratic president, I think it now forces them all to work together.
And in a strange move, not common among Hollywood stars, Washington officially endorsed a Democratic mayoral candidate in his hometown of Mount Vernon, New York.
He's a staunch Democrat, but with perspective and class. During the Bush war years, Denzel wouldn't put down the president, but rather stated his concern for the troops coming home from battle. He said:
Are they getting the support and love they need from us? And maybe that story's being told, but I sure haven't seen it that much in the news. Yeah, they're pointing fingers about who was right and whose wrong and who started what and where the weapons of mass destruction. But these kids are coming home.
Denzel seems like a pretty stand-up guy, really.