Heath Ledger was born and raised in Perth, Australia. He died of an unintentional drug overdose in New York City in 2008.
It is unclear what, if any, religion Ledger was raised in. It is reasonable to assume that there is some form of Christian heritage in his family considering nearly two-thirds of Australians claim to be Christians. Of Australian Christians, the largest single denomination is Catholic.
Ledger himself hated interviews and rarely touched upon religious topics. He did once liken strong belief and faith to acting, implying that he possibly considered acting a spiritual ritual. He said:
You know when you see the preachers down South? And they grab a believer and they go, ‘Bwoom! I touch you with the hand of God!’ And they believe so strongly, they’re on the ground shaking and spitting. And fuck’s sake, that’s the power of belief. Now, I don’t believe in Jesus, but I believe in my performance. And if you can understand that the power of belief is one of the great tools of our time and that a lot of acting comes from it, you can do anything.
The quote indicates that Ledger was not Christian and considers belief a “tool.” His views on belief cause me to think that he was possibly agnostic or even atheist.
Ledger was targeted by the Westboro Baptist Chruch after his death. The small congregation is famous for its sign-waving at soldier’s funerals and events related to homosexuality. Their beef with Ledger revolved around his role in the gay cowboy movie, Brokeback Mountain. According to these folks, Heath is now in hell.
Forced into Politics
Ledger never explicitly exposed his political views. In fact, he was sometimes accused of being “non-political.” But that isn’t the case. He was just a private person–with his own views. He once said:
I want to keep my beliefs to myself. Otherwise I can get a little rude.
However, his role as a gay cowboy in the aforementioned film, Brokeback Mountain, really forced him to address the issue of homosexuality and its level of acceptance in society. The film did cause quite a stir, particularly among America’s religious conservatives. But Heath, while happy if it helped to push homosexuality into widespread social acceptance, always insisted that he didn’t do the film for political reasons, saying:
We certainly weren’t going out of our way to make a change in the world. We didn’t make the film for any kind of political movement. We never expected to change people’s minds; but if it does affect people’s hearts, if perceptions can get altered, that’s a good thing.
Such an attitude probably designates one as, at least, socially liberal.