Actor Johnny Depp in 2020
One ULC Minister argues that the Depp/Heard trial is idolatry.

The following guest sermon was submitted by ULC minister Christy Kirk. All ULC Ministers are invited to contribute their own sermons for consideration/publication. To submit a sermon, please email it to sermons@ulc.org.


Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re aware of the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard defamation trial.

Johnny Depp is suing his ex-wife Amber Heard, alleging that she lied about physical abuse she suffered at his hand, and that her accusations of violence cost him roles in the Pirates of the Caribbean and Harry Potter film franchises. She is countersuing. It's ugly. 

This has been an inescapable international spectacle for weeks now. It's the ultimate airing of dirty laundry by two world famous actors, playing out in the most public way possible.

But what should be far more unsettling than the details of the trial itself is the public's reaction to it.

Worshiping the Stars

Instead of shaking their heads and moving on with their lives, there are scores of Depp fans lined up outside the courthouse every day, clamoring for a chance to see their favorite movie star.

This phenomenon is emblematic of a larger problem in America: the cult of celebrity worship.

Most of us have not and will never meet Depp or Heard. There’s no real reason for anyone but Depp, Heard, and their respective families to care about this trial’s outcome. And yet, clips of the trial are unavoidable for anyone who owns a television, smartphone, computer, radio, heck – probably even a carrier pigeon.

Regardless of whether Depp or Heard comes out on top in the court of law, worshiping celebrities is not a normal or healthy thing to do. 

Fandom Gone Mad

Johnny Depp is getting a hero’s welcome at the trial, and the idolatry apparently knows no bounds.

Fans are waiting overnight just for a chance to glimpse the star. Many flew from across the country just to do so. There are alleged brawls and screaming matches over who gets one of a handful of bracelets, which allows them access to the courthouse as an observer. There’s even (reportedly) an entire black market for these elusive bracelets, with scalpers selling them at exorbitant rates.

Has the world gone mad? This is beyond simple fandom or support; it is straight-up worship.

This is idolatry today: endless coverage of the lives of celebrities on television, rows of magazines in supermarket checkout aisles filled with candid photos of famous people, and social media feeds showing us the lifestyles of superstars.

The Bible instructs us not to hold any idols above God. As a society, we care more about the relationship between two Hollywood personalities than we do our own relationship with Jesus Christ. Why do we clamor to know the intimate details of the lives of celebrities? A healthy society would refocus its attention on studying God's word, not the latest he-said, she-said from two rich elites. 

How many among us can recite ten Kardashians, but not the Ten Commandments? I pray this nation finds its way again.

43 comments

  1. Alan Meunier's Avatar Alan Meunier

    Note quite as bad as worshipping Trump (the golden statue at the RNC comes to mind) but close...

    1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      …or worshipping Biden, Pelosi, or Harris…..but then again, who in their right mind would? 🤷🏼

      🦁❤️

    2. Rev Mark D's Avatar Rev Mark D

      Absolutely right!!!

      1. Donald Richard Starns's Avatar Donald Richard Starns

        Nobody should worship anyone in public service, but we should all expect them to do their duty to the country and its people, under the law. Washington didn’t want to be worshipped. These guys are supposed to work for us, not the other way around. The cult of personality around Fat Donny is obscene.

  1. Robert Gagnon's Avatar Robert Gagnon

    It's disgusting how little people think of themselves, that they have to worship another human. In 1953 Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451. If you were to read it instead of watching the movie, you'd find a description of how empty people are today. There have been some really exceptional people that I admire, but never will I put someone above me. I worship no one! The courts could find better use of their time than wasting a courtroom, judge and jury. For What? Some rich famous, spoiled, dopers that had a hissey fit about what went on in their castle. Really? Bad enough people worship an old orange con man that that never mowed the lawn, washed a dish for mom, or changed a kids diaper. Him they send money too, the guy that steals from everyone. Him they compare to Jesus. I guess there's a sucker born every minute.

    1. Richard Darwin Richards's Avatar Richard Darwin Richards

      Yes, we all miss the Don! He is the man!!!!

      1. Catherine Ohrin-Greipp's Avatar Catherine Ohrin-Greipp

        Yeah, a real cowardly man who claimed bone spurs, called our dead vets at Arlington losers, scammed people out of their money-Trump U, Trump steaks, bankrupted casinos, planned and orchestrated an insurrection, stole money from a children's charity, lied on his taxes, lied about our fair election becuase he was afraid of being charged and convicted of high crimes. I don't miss that malignant narcissist one minute and hope he goes to prison.

  1. Joe Stutler's Avatar Joe Stutler

    Difference between Johnny Depp/Amber Heard and the primary deity of the Abrahamic mythos is that Johnny & Amber are real.

    1. Richard Darwin Richards's Avatar Richard Darwin Richards

      They are merely false gods. They are no more real than any other tabloid fake.

      1. Joe Stutler's Avatar Joe Stutler

        Yep, that's how it is with deities and such. Magic isn't real, mythologies are for entertainment purposes only.

        1. Richard Darwin Richards's Avatar Richard Darwin Richards

          We wish hollywood wasn't "real"...

          1. Joe Stutler's Avatar Joe Stutler

            Not into entertainment?

            1. Richard Darwin Richards's Avatar Richard Darwin Richards

              This is definitely entertaining!

              1. Joe Stutler's Avatar Joe Stutler

                If one had to choose, which does one favor: the bread, or the circuses?

              2. Richard Darwin Richards's Avatar Richard Darwin Richards

                One would hope bread!

  1. Dennis Michael Parker's Avatar Dennis Michael Parker

    My daughter made this point: "I dont really see it as his fans are worshipping him , they are supporting him. If you have watched any of the trial He is a victim of Domestic violence ... this trial is starting to be an eye opener to many people that woman aren't always innocent , sometimes they are the aggressor and its ok for men to come out and say they are being abused."

    1. Richard Darwin Richards's Avatar Richard Darwin Richards

      Precisely! Look at Bill Clinton and how he suffered.

  1. Alma Casas Ubias's Avatar Alma Casas Ubias

    what about trumps worshiping goons? no mention. of them!

  1. William Dusenberry's Avatar William Dusenberry

    As a ULC Bishop, with a DD, and additionally holds doctorates in theology, metaphysics, epistemology and is a Celebrant with the FFRF, I can state, with a relative degree of certainty, that “all idols are in the minds of those whose minds enable them to believe in certain idols — based on the tribe in which they were raised.

    The only real difference between a “true, idol, and a false one” just depends on the silliness of belief system that generated the idol in the first place

    To paraphrase Voltaire, “the first creator of an idol, was the first rogue who met a fool.”

    1. Richard Darwin Richards's Avatar Richard Darwin Richards

      Judaism is a good place to go if one wants to learn what a false idol is.

      1. Rev Mark D's Avatar Rev Mark D

        Oh, how's that? Don't normally think of them that way, so where would I look to understand the example?

      2. Rev Mark D's Avatar Rev Mark D

        Judaism? How so, I don't see it. What am I missing?

  1. Stewart's Avatar Stewart

    If they want to worship a celebrity their choice Christian s are not the only faith. Your hubris is a major failing reexamine your rights nowhere do they say I can make you follow My rules

  1. Jason LaBarre's Avatar Jason LaBarre

    This has been going on for years now. Johnny Depp is just one in a long line of celebrity scandals.
    Don't forget about Michael Jackson, O.J. Simpson. Ect. Yes these people are very talented and give us a few hours of enjoyment from our daily lives.
    Sports, movies, music, ect. Are wonderful to enjoy for a short while. But when the lights are turned off, and everyone goes home. Who are these people. There the same as you and me. Just ordinary people trying to make a living, raise a family, and live there lives in peace and harmony. Not just do fans of the above mentioned worship them. They also worship and give star power to the most despicable among us! Like Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, the night stalker, and BTK. Again ordinary people trying to make it in this world. Yet they do the most horrific thing's. And some people worship them like God's.

    My grandparents, and great grandparents, called, radio and t.v. the idiot box. Now we have the internet, web, and social media, YouTube, tick toc, ect. That are just as bad if not worse. When did Americans stop thinking for themselves and start letting a box with light and sound start thinking for them? When we took prayer out of school's.
    That's when!

    1. Richard Darwin Richards's Avatar Richard Darwin Richards

      Amen!!!!!!!

    2. Rev Mark D's Avatar Rev Mark D

      Amen!!!

  1. Douglas Robert Spindler's Avatar Douglas Robert Spindler

    What’s a false idol? Hollywood stars are made to be idols, that’s why they are stars.

  1. Dennis Michael Parker's Avatar Dennis Michael Parker

    My daughter made this point:"I dont really see it as his fans are worshipping him , they are supporting him. If you have watched any of the trial He is a victim of Domestic violence ... this trial is starting to be an eye opener to many people that woman aren't always innocent , sometimes they are the aggressor and its ok for men to come out and say they are being abused."

  1. Nicholas J Page's Avatar Nicholas J Page

    The way I have seen on YouTube Amber Heard is an actress and exposed as a fake with her TV bruise kit Jonny Drops former partners have said he is a gentle soul Karna comes round to whoever's lying on oath Which appears to be Miss Heard she wants her 5 minutes of fame She was unknown as an actress here in the U.K.It was only the fact she marrying Jonny that people know who she is.

    1. Richard Darwin Richards's Avatar Richard Darwin Richards

      I see both sides of this argument!

  1. Rev Wayne Steven's Avatar Rev Wayne Steven

    Yes I totally agree with you. Real question is where does it end when you get into faults gods you can kind of go on and on and on personally I think the concept of false gods is even going into the seven deadly sins which they have become some of the false gods anyway that's something for us always think about please have a blessed day Reverend Wayne

  1. Richard Darwin Richards's Avatar Richard Darwin Richards

    They can't help it. They don't have the ability to think for themselves.

    1. Rev Mark D's Avatar Rev Mark D

      I wouldn't rely too heavily on that sentiment in your case.

  1. Rev Mark D's Avatar Rev Mark D

    Good luck with that title, good way to get your website shut down

    1. Joe Stutler's Avatar Joe Stutler

      Gonna cast a spell?

      1. Rev Mark D's Avatar Rev Mark D

        Ok. Booga Booga.

  1. Gwendolyn Lord's Avatar Gwendolyn Lord

    Guilty of excess, both parties. Tired of the "drama".

  1. Nicholas J Page's Avatar Nicholas J Page

    Remember Depp and Heard are actors.Thsts what their to do act.

  1. Richard Lee Cornell's Avatar Richard Lee Cornell

    That fan base are the ones who put money into the bank accounts of these stars. They might get a picture with one of them that they can post and say wonderful things about their idol. Like their mothers in the past they will be fans until a new idol appears and they will adore that person. That is what fans do.

  1. Richard Vincent Price's Avatar Richard Vincent Price

    We are bombarded hour by hour by social and news media stories of many famous people's daily problems only because they are famous.

    All of us have problems in life that don't get discussed on public forum and don't want our dirty laundry or hard times discussed, so we choose to keep ours as quiet as possible as we can and go on our journey of life.

    Just have a look back in time at our history before social and news media lightning speed of information when famous people kept their dirty laundry under tight wraps from being aired, but still people talk, and the dirty laundry gets soiled even more by misinformation and untrue statements and also true statements by people in close proximity.

    We can't help being the one to cast the first stone at glass houses when our own house is also made of glass, everyone has secrets that they don't want talked about directly or indirectly, but it seems we will go to any extreme to dig up dirt on someone and forget about our own dirt.

    We are all God's children, and sure we all have faults, that's why we are here, God is testing us every day, God gave us the Ten Commandments, and the ability and option to repent our sins, talking and spreading lies and misinformation can ruin our own reputation.

    Placing someone and following their every move and their voice commands, worshiping their existence because of fame, money or political desires as if they were an apostle of God is very wrong, distorted, warped, and sinful, this is called brainwashing to be used for evil purposes by evil people.

  1. Laura McAllister's Avatar Laura McAllister

    I think when actors give up and getting a Divorce they should keep it to their self. Besides it isn’t anyone Business. I don’t get why they have to put their trash to the world. They were married shared a life together that should count for something.

  1. Etha L Moore's Avatar Etha L Moore

    I am a 'fan' if Jihnny Depp and have watched the entire trial. My second passion in life has been Law and the justice system. This trial us by no means the only trial I have followed. I have found watching the trials live is the only way to obtain true information and even then you best be able to read between the nuances if each attorney. But this 'hobby' is not so removed from my ministry as some would think. To me, it's an opportunity to try to understand the human condition. If I sit on top of my mountain and dismiss people because THEY are rich, spoiled actors who live a life of luxury and pettiness and their lives are not worthy of my, ho hum, interest...what does that say about who I am ? Or what I believe is my purpose in life? They are still human beings and God loves them as much as anyone else. Yes, there are those fans that have unhealthy addictions to the people they idolize. But most of the Depp fan comments I've read seem to be rational individuals who are mostly focused on the moral and ethical issues, or lack there of, this trial has exposed. And in the end, those involved in the trial have mothers, fathers and children who are affected by the actions of the claimant and defendant. I try to be less judgemental than I was in the past, less biased. Anyone can be abused and lied about, their reputation ruined, no matter their financial situation. And those people deserves me caring about them. It seems to me anyway. I know it's certainly not easy, I have not been able to summon much sympathy for the obvious psychopaths like Jeffery Dahmer. In fact, I believe it could be spiritually harmful to expose ourselves to that much horror. Because I'm one of those who believe in demons and their powers to possess and/or influence. I leave them to God. But learning about narcissism , greed, abuse....these are conditions that we all are familiar with and can help us when others come to us needing help. Whether they are rich and famous or destitute or somewhere in between. We are all human beings.

  1. Etha L Moore's Avatar Etha L Moore

    "Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass."

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