Arts & Culture

Stephen Baldwin tried to convert me… twice

You don’t start every day in the green room with Stephen Baldwin. Yes, that Stephen Baldwin. The youngest of the acting Baldwin brothers. You know, the one that became a born-again Christian, has his own punk ministry, and writes books … Read More

By / December 2, 2008

You don’t start every day in the green room with Stephen Baldwin. Yes, that Stephen Baldwin. The youngest of the acting Baldwin brothers. You know, the one that became a born-again Christian, has his own punk ministry, and writes books about Jesus. That Stephen Baldwin. A few weeks ago, Baldwin was out promoting his latest tome

(maybe he should guest blog on Jewcy for a week?) on the same local morning show that I was, Good Day Atlanta. I actually mention Stephen in my book (in a positive light) and, being that we were both on the show that morning, the interviewer asked me what I thought of him.

 

 

Anyway, after my interview was up I went back to the green room and bumped into Baldwin. He wasn’t going to be on the show for another hour so we got to chatting. He seemed shocked when I told him that I spent a year going to 52 different churches and not once did someone try to convert me. And just about everybody knew I was Jewish. "How much time we got until my interview?" Baldwin asked his publicist. "About an hour," she responded." "OK … I got 60 minutes to convert you, Ben." Stephen was taking this challenge as a badge of honor – that somehow he would be the first Christian to not only try and convert me, but to succeed. The ensuing hour ended up being a fun theological conversation with a cast-off of Celebrity Apprentice. He even suggested we promote our books together on the road with the "Stephen and Ben Show." Later that day, I decided to pop into Baldwin’s book signing at a local Borders store. When he saw me walk in, he grabbed the microphone and told the crowd: "My Jewish friend Ben just walked in. Let’s see if I can convert him." I went to bed that night thinking that only Stephen Baldwin would do something like that. I was wrong. Most of you know Kirk Cameron from his seminal role on the 1980’s sitcom Growing Pains, but nowadays he’s something of an evangelical icon. He recently made headlines for turning a tiny Christian independent movie about a fireman (filmed on location here in Georgia) into a blockbuster hit. Cameron has transformed from teen idol to running nothing short of a Christian empire. As I write in the book: "His ‘Way of the Master Ministries‘ is a small media empire with books, speaking engagements, a radio show, DVDs, and an evangelical television show that’s seen in seventy countries. Even Growing Pains isn’t seen that far and wide." And so I guess it was inevitable that the day would come when I would get interviewed by that very radio show – Way of the Master Radio. It’s hosted by Todd Friel, a well-known evangelist. I assumed the interview would be a lot like the time I was on a Catholic radio show when a priest and I both shed a little light on the funnier aspects of our respective religions. The interview opened with some traditional Jewish music, funny for an evangelical radio show, so I assumed this interview would be light like the others. But soon after we got started, it turned into a theology lesson and conversion effort. The truth is I don’t mind. Todd’s faith tells him to reach out to the unconverted. I respect that. I just find it strange because I spent an entire year going to church and not once did someone try to convert me. Until Stephen Baldwin and this guy. Here’s a clip of the radio interview with Todd. Despite the efforts to have me jump over the proverbial fence of faith, I had a good time. Sit back and enjoy.

 

 

Benyamin Cohen, author of My Jesus Year, is guest blogging on Jewcy, and he’ll be here all week. Stay tuned.