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In “Not Everybody Loves Patricia,” Jesse Green of The New York Times writes a lengthy profile of Patricia Heaton–the two-time Emmy Award winner for her nine-season turn on “Everybody Loves Raymond“–and her struggles with being at once a popular actress and a not-so-popular Christian.

Raised in a conservative Catholic household where “they attended Mass every day, and their taste in interior decoration ran to pictures of St. Lucy holding her eyeballs on a platter,” Heaton has come under fire for her Christian-influenced political activism. (Though her Christianity has been rather nomadic, and as an adult, her Christian affiliations have fluctuated from Catholic to Calvinist to New Age, and lately, to Presbyterian.)

She raised eyebrows on both the set and in Hollywood when she became honorary co-chairwoman of Feminists for Life. But that reaction paled in comparison to her decision to do a spot on a political ad against Missouri’s constitutional ammendment to fund stem-cell research in the last election. In the Times article, Heaton expresses intense regret for allowing herself to be talked into participating in what became one of the most controversial and reviled commercials of 2006, since Michael J. Fox did what the public regarded as the “opposing spot” in support of the ammendment. Fox news picked up the controversy about the ads and pitched things as a kind of “Patricia Heaton vs. Michael J. Fox” boxing match–and it was all downhill from there for Heaton.

But redemption awaits Ms. Heaton–if not on television, then on the stage.

In response to the whys behind her decision to forsake television for the stage (Heaton stars in the new Off Broadway production of “The Scene”), and after so much scandal with the “Heaton vs. Fox” debacle, Heaton told Green that she takes comfort “in noticing that all the people that God chose had problems and failings: David, Peter, Paul, Mary Magdalene.” Green writes that Heaton spoke these names without special deference, as if they were pals from high school glee club, while Heaton continues: “God reached out to them specifically. And I’ve always felt closest to God when I’m on a stage. I guess it’s really useful to be damaged in this business, because it makes it possible for you to express things–and get paid for it.”

“The Scene” opens January 11th at the Second Stage Theater.

You can read Beliefnet’s own interview with Heaton–in which she elaborates on her Christian beliefs and her involvement in Feminists for Life–here.

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