Man on a Mission
Stephen Baldwin, youngest brother of the famous Irish American acting clan, became a born-again Christian in the aftermath of 9/11. Since his conversion time he's written a best selling book about his experiences and has lead a national campaign to bring Christianity to one of the most unwilling audiences of all - American teenagers. CAHIR O'DOHERTY talks to a man who describes himself as the first "psycho" for Christ.
STEPHEN Baldwin was back in the headlines a couple of weeks ago when Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin appeared on Saturday Night Live and informed the American public that he was her favorite Baldwin brother.
It was hardly a surprise, since both the candidate and the actor share more than a few opinions. They're also linked to right of center evangelical Christian organizations that are often as brazenly political as they are religious.
But for Stephen Baldwin, a staunch supporter of Senator John McCain's candidacy, it didn't start out that way. As recently as 2001 he was a dissolute celebrity actor often more famous for his off screen antics than most of his films.
Then, in a move that seems to be happening more and more frequently to former wisecracking bad boys, he gave up all of his hard partying and found God. But not just any God, the my-way-or-the-highway God of the Old Testament, the one with the notably short temper who'd plague you with frogs and locusts as soon as look at you.
"For the year previous to 9/11 my wife had been experiencing her walk of faith," Baldwin tells the Irish Voice. "It wasn't too long after she began that I became curious and started pursuing it as well.
"For myself it was a curiosity, so to speak. It was 9/11 that was the wake up call for me in my adult life that made me say, 'Wow this event is a demonstration of something bigger going on.' It made me think about life and what my priorities were. It quantum leaped me into my faith experience."
Growing up in Massapequa, Long Island Baldwin loved the close-knit Irish American community that surrounded him. "Even with that small percentage of Irish in me, of my entire heritage it's the one I brag about the most, which my wife finds to be quite humorous. She's a full-blooded Brazilian and she often says to me, 'Honey, you shouldn't claim to be Irish when it's just 10% of your background.
"I reply it's a very dense 10%. Long Island, New York was flooded with the Irish and the history of the Irish and their history here is just awesome. I'm proud of the little Irish in me. As for Ireland itself, to make a film there some day would be a dream of mine."
In America, when celebrities undergo dramatic conversions, they rarely choose to keep it to themselves. But even by Hollywood standards, Baldwin's conversion and the fuss he then made about it in his books The Unusual Suspect and The Death and Life Gabriel Phillips of are more attention grabbing than usual.
The youngest of the Baldwin acting clan - his older brothers are Alec, Billy and Daniel - he's a veteran of more than 60 films, including The Usual Suspects and television shows like Celebrity Mole and Fear Factor.
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