Will Smith grew up Baptist in a rough neighborhood in Philadelphia. (Just listen to the lyrics of “Fresh Prince of Bel Air.”)
Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith were accused of converting to Scientology after numerous public outings with Tom Cruise, but he asserted his continued Christianity this way:
You don’t have to be Jewish to be a friend of Steven Spielberg. You don’t have to be a Muslim to be a friend of Muhammad Ali. And you don’t have to be a Scientologist to be a friend of Tom Cruise…I am a Christian. I am a student of all religions. And I respect all people and all paths.
But money speaks louder than words and his money says he does respect a wide range of beliefs–at least up until 2008 when he gave $1.3 million dollars to different charities including Christian, Islamic, and Jewish organizations.
Oh, and of course Scientologist organizations. Three Scientology-based organizations received parts of the $1.3 million, and Smith has said plenty of stuff like this:
I was raised in a Baptist household, I went to a Catholic school, but the ideas of the Bible are 98 percent the same ideas of Scientology, 98 percent the same ideas of Hinduism and Buddhism.
After being hounded by various media outlets, though, not only did Smith deny converting to Scientology, he stopped giving to organizations linked to the the religion.
But whatever his religion, it seems he believes in destiny:
I don’t know what my calling is, but I want to be here for a bigger reason. I strive to be like the greatest people who have ever lived.
Wow. I mean, he’s a good actor and an O.K. rapper, but one of the greatest people who ever lived? That might be a stretch.
Smith may be all over the map when it comes to religion, but he’s squarely in the Democratic corner when it comes to politics. He was at a fundraiser for President Obama’s reelection campaign just last October and also contributed to the first Obama presidential campaign.
We’d like to call him a liberal, but no one is quite sure where President Obama stands, so we’ll hold off.
Socially, Smith is concerned with the state of black people in America, saying:
I try to speak my points of view about black America, and how I feel about black men and the role that black men should play in their lives with their children and in their lives with their women.
He thinks black men, in particular, are given an unfair reputation, saying:
There’s so much negative imagery of black fatherhood. I’ve got tons of friends that are doing the right thing by their kids, and doing the right thing as a father – and how come that’s not as newsworthy?
Oh man, imagine the backlash if someone ran a news story about a good black father.
A lot of people like Will Smith, he seems smart and grounded and obviously open to a wide range of ideas. He has said:
If it was something that I really committed myself to, I don’t think there’s anything that could stop me becoming President of the United States.
That might actually be cool. Bill Clinton played the sax. Why not have a president that raps. Maybe he could rap the State of the Union address. Instead of debates, we could have rap-battles. Plus, Smith has plenty of government experience working as one of the Men in Black (MIBs). Oh, I could go on forever…