Relationships can be complex even in the best of circumstances. Two people committing to a relationship frequently means that some changes have to take place, and sometimes those are actually roadblocks in the form of mandatory changes. Certain religions prefer that people marry within that religion, meaning that sometimes conversions are necessary to keep a good thing going strong.
The following celebrities were inspired (or required) to change their religion in the name of love in one form or another. A couple of them even swapped their religion on their way out of a relationship, or shockingly, on their way out of prison.
Isla Fisher was raised as a conservative Methodist, but when she fell in love with Sasha Baron Cohen she converted to Judaism so they could marry. In 2004 she said that “I will definitely have a Jewish wedding just to be with Sasha. I would do anything — move into any religion — to be united in marriage with him.”
Isla and Sasha have been together for 16 years already and they have three children together. Sasha is known for his outlandish characters; according to Isla, Sasha has confused their children on numerous occasions by coming home at the end of a work day in costume and still in character.
Actress Zooey Deschanel reportedly converted to Judaism to marry her husband Jacob Pechenik. The two were pretty quiet about their marriage, as well as about the birth of their daughter.
Zooey has spoken out about the religion swap and reiterated that it wasn’t that big of a deal to her. “In the end, I was like, ‘Eh.’ I mean I’m interested in theology, and I love reading about it. But I don’t attach myself to any one religion or other.” One thing she is passionate about is otters. Zooey and Jacob named their daughter Elsie Otter after the animal.
Everyone remembers a young Katie Holmes veering into Scientology territory when she got into a relationship with Tom Cruise. Many would argue that Scientology is actually a cult as opposed to a traditional religion, but either way, she started studying and practicing their ways in 2005.
Eventually, she got away from the group but it didn’t seem to be an easy process. Rumors swirled, such as the one about Katie having to use burner phones to plan her divorce so that no one would tap her calls. Sources say after she filed for divorce in 2012 she registered as a parishioner of a New York Catholic church.
Jack Black made some religious changes over the years, but the love that encouraged him to do so was the love that he felt for his children and his responsibility as a father. Jack was raised Jewish but has called himself an atheist.
That is, until 2013 when he made the decision to start attending synagogue again so that he could raise his kids Jewish. Jack has discussed how his life changed upon having children. “The only negative is that you spend a lot of time worrying about this delicate little life. I didn’t know I could feel so much, and was surprised by my own awesome heart.”
Janet Jackson reportedly converted to Islam when she married businessman Wissam Al Mana. The two have been relatively quiet about their life since becoming a couple, and they recently welcomed their first child, a son named Eissa. Their chosen name of Eissa is relatively common Arabic form of the name Jesus.
Janet Jackson was 50 years old before she decided to have kids, and it was supposedly her own mother who encouraged her to have a baby before it was too late. Katherine Jackson reportedly told her daughter that “I was already a grandma at your age.” That fact must have hit home for the star.
The president-elect’s daughter Ivanka Trump is yet another celebrity who changed religions for love. The socialite was raised Presbyterian but converted to Judaism when she married Jared Kushner. She once explained what she liked about it. “I really find that with Judaism, it creates an amazing blueprint for family connectivity.”
Ivanka and Jared have been together for over 10 years and they have three children together. The story goes that they were introduced by a real estate developer who thought they might like to make a networking connection. They agreed to meet and it ended up being more like a love connection.
Marilyn Monroe was born a Christian Scientist but in 1956 converted to Judaism when she married playwright Arthur Miller. They had both a legal marriage at a courthouse as well as a Jewish ceremony two days later. However, the marriage didn’t last and neither did the conversion.
She stopped practicing once they split. Marilyn was actually married and divorced three times before she died in her mid 30s. Before Arthur Miller, there was James Dougherty (who she married at 16), and then Joe DiMaggio. She had many other relationships as well, but was quoted as saying “It’s better to be unhappy alone than unhappy with someone.”
Elizabeth Taylor’s love life was pretty extensive, and generated a ridiculous amount of controversy and media interest. The actress converted to Judaism at the of 27 after the death of her third husband Michael Todd. He had been Jewish. Her next marriage was to his best friend Eddie Fisher, who was also Jewish … and married.
Elizabeth and Eddie fell in love while Eddie was still married to Debbie Reynolds. They both made some concessions to make things work, except that it didn’t. Elizabeth cheated on Eddie with Richard Burton, who she ended up marrying twice. In total, Elizabeth had eight weddings to seven different men.
Looks like it’s mostly women making the religious conversions for love, but Tom Arnold is a notable exception. He converted to Judaism after marrying Roseanne Barr. The relationship didn’t last beyond 1994, but the conversion sure did.
In 2010 Tom said that “It’s easier to deal with anything that comes your way, if you can hand it over to something bigger than yourself.” When Tom and Roseanne broke up, he actually went through a period of time where people said his career in Hollywood wouldn’t last without her. Luckily for Arnold, that didn’t end up being the case.
Drew Barrymore didn’t officially convert to Judaism when she married Will Kopelman, but she started to practice and considered it a beautiful and family-oriented faith. Her intentions were to raise their two children in the Jewish faith. Drew and Will ended up splitting in 2016, and she admitted that it was a rough transition back to single status.
She also said that she didn’t fall for him right off the bat. “It was never really love at first sight. Will struck a lot of my pragmatic sides. He was someone who was always reachable on the phone, someone who was a classy human being, someone who had this incredible blueprint of a family that I don’t have.”
Elizabeth Banks married her college sweetheart Max Handelman, whom she met on the first day of school. She converted to Judaism for him, and they are raising their children Jewish as well. In 2013 she said “I’ve been essentially a Jew for like 15 years. I haven’t had a Christmas tree in 15 years.”
Despite their long relationship, Elizabeth admitted that she didn’t see him and think she was going to marry him, she just thought he was cute and never stopped. “Really, what happened was I’ve never met anyone that I liked more. In the early years, did I have crushes or little interests here and there? I know my husband did, and so did I, but we stayed together.”
Lindsay Lohan was in the process of converting from Christianity to Judaism for her girlfriend Samantha Ronson when the two called it quits. After the break-up, Lindsey stopped the conversion as well. She later made it sound like the relationship with Samantha was not a great one.
“I was going through a lot. Two toxic people cannot be together. End of story. We’re friends now. That’s how it started so I think that’s how it was meant to be.” Lindsey is currently rumored to be dating Dennis Papageorgiou after splitting with fiancé Egor Tarabasov earlier in the year.
Bollywood actress Ayesha Takia became a Muslim to marry Farhan Azmi in 2009. The two had a traditional Islamic nikaah ceremony for the wedding day. The marriage contract is signed during the ceremony, which requires each person state the details of the meher in front of two witnesses.
Then they repeat the word qabul three times. Qabul is the Arabic word for “I accept.” But Ayesha has made it very clear that she does not accept her husband’s father, a politician who has made some disparaging comments about sex out of marriage and supposedly claimed that rape victims should also be punished along with rapists.
Jane Fonda assumed that she was an atheist despite being raised as a Christian Scientist, but towards 10 years into her marriage to fellow atheist Ted Turner she started to change her mind. Jane’s newfound interest in Christianity might have actually been what led to their split.
She converted anyway and has detailed why in her book. “I hadn’t told Ted beforehand because by then I didn’t feel we were on the same team. Alongside the frantic life we shared, I was living a parallel inner life, where I took care of my own needs … I also knew that if I had discussed with him my need for spirituality, he would have either asked me to choose between him and it or bullied me out of it.” Ted was cheating on her at the time.
Stephen Baldwin was raised as a Roman Catholic but then didn’t practice much of any religion for a lot of his adult life. That is until his Brazilian housekeeper starting singing beautiful Portuguese songs about Jesus and getting his wife Kennya interested in Christianity.
Kennya started practicing and prayed that Stephen would as well. Eventually, he did. As for how they two have stayed happy together for so long, he says that “The truth is my wife’s awesome. She puts up with me. We’re meant to be together. More than anything when those interactions occur that rub you the wrong way you just learn to let it go. That’s the best thing you can do.”
Michael Jackson was supposedly moved to embrace Islam after his brother Jeremy inspired him on the matter. Jeremy passed away a few years later. However, despite reports that Michael even changed his named to Mikaeel in the process, he never officially confirmed that the conversion was genuine himself, and some people still deny it.
Michael did, however, spend time with Orthodox Jewish Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and allowed him to tape conversations they had about relationships which the rabbi later turned into a book. It included details of his personal relationships and feelings about other famous people as well as relationships in general.
Mike Tyson was moved to convert to Islam out of self-love. He made the choice to convert while he was doing time in prison for a rape and assault charge. Since his prison release he has continued to practice and regularly attends Mosque ceremonies.
His Muslim name is Malik. Mike has spoken candidly about his religious life. “I’m very grateful to be a Muslim. Allah doesn’t need me, I need Allah. I could never be humble…To be humble is to not take yourself seriously. I try to do that. I work on it. People think I’m humble but I’m not.”
Singer Gladys Knight decided to become a Mormon out of the love for her children. She has always had a strong faith and feels that it has kept her away from temptation through her rise to fame. But after her son Jimmy and his wife joined the Mormon church, she saw their lives change for the better, and ultimately decided that she wanted the same for herself.
She officially joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1997 and started teasing the pastor that he should add some “pep” into their church music. That led to her position creating and directing a Mormon choir.
Orlando Bloom may not have had love in mind when he left the Anglican Church of England to start practicing Buddhism, but it sounds like something that he has in common with his current girlfriend Katy Perry. Katy was raised by two pastors but doesn’t consider herself traditionally religious.
Rather she believes “in a higher power bigger than me because that keeps me accountable.” Katy has been rumored to be considering a conversion to Buddhism for her beau Orlando, despite not picking up interest in the religion while she was married to Russell Brand, another high-profile adherent to the Buddhist tradition.
Reporter Connie Chung converted to Judaism in 1984 when she married the talk show host Maury Povich. Connie and Maury actually met in 1968 when they were anchoring on the same news show. They dated for about seven years before they got together, and they’ve been happily married ever since.
Connie has said that the secret to marriage is to not do everything together. “It really works. You should let the other person do what they want to do. I don’t believe in imposing my friends on my husband and I don’t want him to impose his golf friends on me!”
Did Lindsay Lohan Convert To Islam?
In January 2017, notorious actress Lindsay Lohan surprised her social media followers with an Instagram name change. Her new username was suddenly listed as “Alaikum Salam,” which translates to “Peace be upon you too” in Arabic.
Lohan, who gave up on a conversion from Christianity to Judaism years earlier, has been spotted in public wearing a headscarf and holding a Quran recently. Before the new name unveiling, Lilo also deleted all her previous photos from Instagram before debuting the name change, a sign that many fans took to mean she was turning a new leaf with a new religion.
In 2009, rapper Snoop Dogg shocked many of his fans when he reportedly joined the Nation of Islam.The reports came after Snoop spoke at a Saviours’ Day convention where he made a donation of $1,000 and praised Louis Farrakhan, the supreme minister and national representative of the Nation of Islam.
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He told the group, “I’m an advocate for peace. I’ve been in teh peace movement ever since I’ve been making music. My whole thing is not about really trying to push my thing on you. It’s just about the way I live, and I live how I’m supposed to live as far as doing what’s right and representing what’s right.” Prior to this association, Snoop Dogg was raised as a Baptist.
Back in the early 2000s, Dave Chappelle was at the height of his comedic career with a hit show, Chappelle’s Show. But it all came to a brief halt by 2005, when the third season of his show stalled and Chappelle disappeared to South Africa. He needed time to assess his life and in his reflection, he found Islam.
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Chappelle told TIME, “I don’t normally talk about my religion publicly because I don’t want people to associate me and my flaws with this beautiful thing. And I believe it is a beautiful religion if you learn it the right way.”
Pop diva Madonna famously converted to a Jewish belief system called Kabbalah after the birth of her daughter Lourdes in the late ’90s. Born and raised in Catholicism, Madonna was introduced to Kabbalah in 1997 by fellow actress Sandra Bernhard.
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Founded by Rabbi Philip Berg, Kabbalah preaches ways in which its followers—who wear red bracelets to ward off the “evil eye”—can become rich, find true love and cure illnesses, according to Independent. Madonna has gone on the record defending Kabbalah by saying, “It frightens people. So they try to denigrate it or trivialize it so that it makes more sense.”
Actress Julia Roberts was born to Baptist and Catholic parents, but in recent years is known to be a faithful follower of Hinduism, which she divulged to Elle in 2010, where she said, “It’s unfortunate that we live in such a panicked, dysmorphic society where women don’t even give themselves a chance to see what they’ll look like as older persons…”
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“I want my kids to know when I’m pissed, when I’m happy, and when I’m confounded. Your face tells a story … and it shouldn’t be a story about your drive to the doctor’s office,” Roberts said. All three of her children have also been given Hindu names by Swami Daram Dev of Ashram Hari Mandir in Pataudi, where Roberts filmed Eat, Pray, Love.
Actor John Travolta has recently spoke against Leah Remini’s exposé on Scientology, which he says “has been nothing but helpful to me for 40 years, through all my losses of my mother, my girlfriend, my son,” he told People.
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Raised a Catholic, Travolta told BBC1, “I have never compared the two, to be honest, because, as I said, I don’t think I grew up understanding enough about [Catholocism].” He says that when he was introduced to Scientology, “I suddenly had a sense that I wasn’t just a body – that I was actually a spirit in a body. And my life changed from that moment. I knew I was going to live forever.”
Did Bob Marley Convert To Christianity?
Musician Bob Marley has been an icon of the Rastafarian movement for probably as long as his career, but there are many sources online that claim he actually became a born-again Christian on his deathbed in the ’80s. Beliefnet writes that “He was raised in the Christian church but strayed away as a youth. He drove into Rastafari and the worship of Haile Selassie and his career exploded as he toured around the nation preaching the beliefs of Rastafari.”
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As the story goes, when Selassie got word of how big the movement became and how people revered him as a deity, he sent archbishop Abuna Yesehaq to the West to set everyone straight. It was supposedly Yesehaq who baptized Marley himself.
“Empress of Soul” Gladys Knight was raised as a Baptist and has lived her life constantly seeking the Lord. But it wasn’t until 1997 that she was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and became a Mormon. It was all thanks to her children.
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She told ldsliving.com, “My son Jimmy and his wife were the first to join the Church, after his best friend shared his testimony. Then my daughter, Kenya, joined the Church. I watched their lives grow, and to see how my grandchildren were being raised and what they knew really impressed me.”
Singer and actress Nell Carter was born into a Catholic family, raised as a Presbyterian, but she passed away as a convert to Judaism. Around the age of 13, Carter began exploring Judaism after she found out one of her grandfathers had Jewish blood.
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In 1982, she officially converted to Judaism after marrying executive George Krynicki, who even tried to dissuade her from converting because as she once put it, “Jews don’t seek out converts.” Rabbi David Baron told The Jewish News of Northern California, “[Carter said] lighting Shabbat candles brought her peace and helped her deal with a lot of her addictions.”
Actor Ricky Schroder is perhaps best known for his starring role on the sitcom Silver Spoons as a child. After Silver Spoons ended, Schroder was filming a movie in Canada where he met his future wife Andrea Bernard. But in order to marry her, he had to become a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
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Schroder has said, “The greatest decision I ever made, besides marrying Andrea, was to ask with faith if Jesus was the Son of God, and if He was real … and if the Book of Mormon was true. Since gaining a testimony of our chruch and getting baptized, I can’t tell you how much my life has changed in my perspective.”
When Glenn Beck’s best friend and business partner Pat Gray suggested that Beck turn to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Beck scoffed in his face, calling his friend “freak boy.” Beck was in the lowest points of his life at the time, but it wasn’t until he cleaned up, stayed sober, and found a new wife that Beck would actually take that suggestion into consideration.
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In the late ’90s, he and his then-girlfriend Tania were looking for a new faith to follow together and settled on becoming Mormons. By 1999, not only did he end up marrying Tania, he was baptized as a Mormon by his pal Pat Gray.
NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wasn’t actually born with that name. Up until the time he was already gaining popularity for being a star on the UCLA basketball team in the late ’60s, Abdul-Jabbar was known as Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, Jr. and he was raised as a Catholic.
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Abdul-Jabbar wouldn’t go public with his new name or the fact that he converted to Sunni Islam until the late ’70s, but says that he did so over the angst and confusion he felt of being a star African-American basketball player during a time when America was still very much racially divided and after he learned about institutionalized racism after reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X.
Before he was known as the professional boxer Muhammad Ali, he was Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. who grew up in Louisville, Kentucky as a Baptist. When fighting in the Golden Gloves tournament in Chicago of 1959, Ali first got wind of the Nation of Islam and by 1962 had met Malcolm X, who became his mentor.
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The Nation of Islam initially wouldn’t let him join because of his profession, but after he won a championship in 1964, his conversion was made public. He was renamed Muhammad, which means “one who is worthy of praise,” Ali, which means “most high.”
Thurl Bailey was a former NBA player who was with both the Utah Jazz and the Minnesota Timberwolves. In the late ’80s, Bailey was hosting a basketball camp for underprivileged youth, where he met Sindi Southwick, a female basketball player for the Utah Valley State College. They married in 1994.
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Southwick was already Mormon and when his NBA career was coming to an end, Bailey surprised her by announcing that he was to convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Although he was raised as a Baptist, Bailey was baptized by his father-in-law in 1995.
Actress Kelly Packard is known for playing April Giminski on Baywatch and appearing on a number of other shows such as The Wonder Years, Blossom, Step by Step, and others. She reportedly joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while she was a teenager and was “sealed” and married to Darrin Privett in 1997.
In 2014, she appeared on Celebrity Wife Swap, where she said, “We do not allow any alcohol, coffee, tea, or tobacco in the house. We have rules. With our kids, we limit the amount of time of television they watch and what they wear. I want them to grow up as kids.”
Rockstar Alice Cooper has converted back to the faith he was raised with out of love for himself. Throughout his career, he battled serious drug and alcohol addictions and credits God with bringing him back to sobriety.
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According to CNS News, Cooper said of his becoming a born-again Christian: “I started going back to church with my wife, and there was this pastor who was just Hell-fire… he was talking to me every Sunday. Of course, he wasn’t, but he was – just nailing me. Every weekend I’d get out exhausted. I’d come out of there and be, ‘I don’t want to go back.’ It was like torture and I always came back.”
Although he was raised as a Methodist, actor Richard Gere is known for being a Buddhist, which he took an interest in while in his twenties. Gere told Lion’s Roar, “My first encounter with Buddhist dharma would be in my early twenties. I think like most young men I was not particularly happy. I don’t know if I was suicidal, but I was pretty unhappy, and I had questions like, ‘Why anything?'”
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Gere has since been practicing Buddhism and has even met the 14 Dalai Lama in India and has become one of his active supporters. Gere also takes frequent visits to the Dharamshala, which is the headquarters of the Tibetan government-in-exile.
American DJ Moby was apparently so taken by the teachings of Christ, that he is now known to be a devout Christian, or as he explained to Mother Jones, he would label himself as a “Taoist-Christian-agnostic quantum mechanic.”
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He went on to explain, “In high school I was a punk-rock atheist. Then I became what I’ll call a sort of Kierkegaardian Christian. There was a time when I was a very serious Christian. Over time, I started becoming more and more aware of the vastness and complexity of the universe, which led me away from any sort of conventional Christianity.”
Former Beatle George Harrison is known for his conversion to Hinduism amidst all of the Beatlemania he lived through. Raised in a Catholic family, Harrison was taken by India in the late ’60s, saying, “The people of India have a tremendous spiritual strength which I don’t think is found elsewhere. The spirit of the people, the beauty, the goodness—that’s what I’ve been trying to learn about.”
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Since adopting the Hindu faith, Harrison became a vegetarian and became an advocate for the teachings of yogis such as Swami Vivekananda and Paramahansa Yogananda. Harrison was a lifelong devotee of Hinduism until his passing in 2001.