Christian Bertrand / Shutterstock.com
  • Faith: Christian
  • Career: Musician
  • Birthday:  July 17, 1977

Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam, also known as M.I.A., is a British rapper and singer. Though born in London, M.I.A.’s family moved back to their native Sri Lanka when she was a baby. There, her father fought against Tamil oppression, moving his family from Jaffra to Madras in India. When M.I.A. was 10, her family fled to London as refugees, where her mother became a Christian. Her father was an atheist who saw religion as a “form of control.”

M.I.A. said that though she always maintained an affinity for Hinduism, her mother’s Christian faith never interested her — until she saw Jesus, an experience that she told The Guardian gave her an “existential crisis.” She said, referring to one of the many deities in Hinduism, “In my time of need, the God that turned up to save me was not Shiva. It was Jesus. That is the truth, and I have to say that.”

Though she’s still figuring out the details of her faith, the artist said, “the only clear thing I can say is that even when I had no belief in Jesus Christ and Christianity, and even when I was 100 percent comfortable in Hinduism, it was a Christian God that turned up to save me,” she said. “And I think there is truth in that. I’m so new to it,” she added. “It’s not like I can recite all the verses of the Bible and stuff like that.”

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