Beliefnet
Rod Dreher

Look, I’m sorry that actor Stephen Baldwin is bankrupt, but this whole Restore Stephen Baldwin campaign is the ne plus ultra of Evangelical cheesiness.
Baldwin is the D-list actor who became a born-again Christian in 2002. But he got into financial trouble, and is now deeply in debt. Now this coterie of Baldwin supporters, who claim to be operating independent from the Massapequa thespian, are trying to raise money to get him out of bankruptcy. Well, look, I’d love it too if I went bankrupt, and my friends rallied to help me out. But what they’re doing here is Holy Ghost Hokey Pokey crazy.
They’re claiming that Baldwin is broke because he’s a Christian, and Hollywood blacklisted him over his faith. The Velveeta-like video clip on the RSB site actually says that if you give money to Stephen, you’ll help show those Hollywood types who look at broke Stephen and laugh at God. Restore that Baldwin or the Devil wins! More from the site:

Our vision is to see Stephen Baldwin publicly restored in front of millions. Stephen’s platform will increase allowing him to reach even more people with the Gospel and God will get all of the glory. Publicly.

You think that’s what’ll happen? Or will the millions who see this happen laugh at how easy it is to separate gullible Christians from their money for the sake of helping a washed-up celebrity who, in an earlier generation, would have been anchoring the Banana Section on “Tattle Tales” by now, resume his Hollywood lifestyle, such as it was.
Let’s go to the Q&A section of RestoreStephenBaldwin.org, shall we:

Q- Why doesn’t his family help him?
A- His family does not perceive Stephen’s predicament as a matter of spiritual warfare. They see Stephen’s outspoken Christianity as poor choices therefore they will not help.

Oh really? I doubt the poor choices that led to S. Baldwin’s bankruptcy had anything to do with God, and had everything to do with, you know, spending more money than he had coming in. Well, that, and the fact that — oops! — the Born-Again Baldwin neglected to pay over a million dollars in state and federal taxes, according to his bankruptcy filing.
Let’s say for the sake of argument that S. Baldwin was the greatest actor since young Brando — I know, I know, but let’s pretend — but his acting jobs evaporated after he came out as a born-again Christian. That would be tragedy, but worse things have happened to people. But guess what? Stephen Baldwin could have gotten a regular job like anybody else. Would it have killed him to work at Costco? That would have been honorable; having your friends beg publicly for money to restore you to celebrity income status is shameful and pathetic.
But wait, it gets better, or rather, worse:

Q- Why does Stephen need personal wealth?
A- Stephen’s influence is in Hollywood. Hollywood worships money and without it you are seen as a loser and cannot be an effective influence to this group.

What kind of Christian-crackhead logic is it that says the faithful have a duty to give alms to make a failed spendthrift actor rich once again to advance the kingdom of God? Is going broke in part because you didn’t pay your taxes really a matter of spiritual warfare? Did the Devil make poor Stephen Baldwin not obey the law? The mind boggles, the stomach turns. The funny thing is, this stunt, which will get lots of coverage, will guarantee both a) that Hollywood people laugh even harder at Christian nitwittery, and b) that no matter how rich he should become through this online telethon, Stephen Baldwin will have no “influence” in Hollywood — none, zero, gesphincto — because he’d be seen as the honor-deficient bozo who didn’t pay his taxes and got bailed out anyway by credulous born-agains.
UPDATE: Let me be clear: I don’t oppose helping someone who got into tax trouble. When Willie Nelson, for example, got his ox in the ditch with the IRS, I wouldn’t have begrudged anyone who loved Willie and his work giving him money to get him square with Uncle Sam. It’s the way Baldwin’s friends have framed this as a spiritual crusade to show up godless Hollywood that makes me ill.

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