Know Your Right Wingers
Stephen Baldwin is the star of such films as The Sex Monster, Threesome, and Bio-Dome, and such culturally enriching TV shows as the UK version of Celebrity Big Brother and I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. Despite his acting career, the role Baldwin really relishes is that of born-again Christian trying to lead a young flock with the lure of extreme sports into his youth ministry. Baldwin’s newest venture is XPAC, the new subset of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) for the young, Facebook-savvy, conservative. XPAC and CPAC kick off today in Washington, D.C.
Stephen Baldwin is the youngest of the Baldwin clan, and lives in the acting shadow of his older brother, Alec. He was born in Massapequa, New York, in 1966 to Carol Newcomb, a breast cancer survivor who founded a breast cancer care center at the University Hospital and Medical Center at Stony Brook, and Alexander Rae Baldwin Jr., a high school teacher and football coach. He has three brothers – Alec, Daniel, and William — each famous in his own right, and two sisters. Baldwin married his wife, Kennya, in 1990, and has two daughters.
Early in his career, Baldwin led a morally questionable Hollywood lifestyle—drinking excessively and doing cocaine, but a month after the attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, Baldwin was baptized and became a born-again Christian. His spiritual transformation was inspired by his wife’s earlier embrace of Christianity, who in turn was inspired by the vibrant faith of their housekeeper.
Since then, he’s embarked on several attempts to bring young people into the fold of the conservative movement by giving it a cool factor with extreme sports, loud music, and a just-one-of-the-guys attitude. To accomplish this, he founded the Breakthrough Ministry, which he describes as “hardcore,” bringing the world of “Xtreme” sports together with a Christian ministry. The ministry brings sports stars across the country on “AsSalt Tours” to cities and communities to get them interested in Jesus. The website, with little mention of God, Jesus, or Christianity, even has the tagline “Adrenaline Central.”
The charming and goofy Baldwin tells his story in his 2006 book, The Unusual Suspect, published by the niche publisher Faith Words. Since then, Baldwin has been the celebrity staple at conservative events like the Family Research Council’s Value Voters Summit and CPAC. He’s put his two cents in on politics, endorsing Mike Huckabee for president in the last election, then John McCain, even going so far as to declare on Fox that if Obama won, he would leave the United States. He hasn’t.
Baldwin also talks about conservatism and Christianity on his radio show with Kevin McCullough, a conservative talking head, with whom Baldwin is co-sponsoring the XPAC venture. XPAC is another attempt to get kids interested in conservatism as though it is something “Xtreme,” with a contest based on changing your Facebook “Profile Pic,” and a series of “Epic Nites,” a series of discussions culminating in “Conservative Awards” night, which plans to honor conservative "investigative journalist" James O’Keefe, who has recently been arrested by the FBI for charges of illegally tapping the phones of U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
All this glitz and rubber, these attempts to make following Jesus seem akin to a video game is pretty weird, and feels like a bait and switch (here, look at this incredible BMX rider, oh wait, join the church). But Baldwin is nothing if not a showman, and has always loved sports and adventure. There’s definitely a sense on his website that he truly embraces that macho “Xtreme” vibe.
Baldwin’s career has been more bizarre than his "Xtreme" ministry. While he’s been embracing Jesus and trying to spread the word, he’s also been clinging to his pitiful amount of Hollywood fame by participating in reality TV shows like The Celebrity Apprentice, Celebrity Mole, Celebrity Big Brother, and—perhaps the most embarrassing—I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here. At the Christian conservative Family Research Council’s Values Voters Summit in 2008, Baldwin went on a rampage about Gossip Girl and its irreverent advertising campaign. He raged against the breakdown of culture due to Hollywood’s disgusting choices, and declared that there will be no America in thirty years, “if this keeps up.”
As Baldwin speaks to audiences at conferences, on his radio show, and in TV interviews about culture needing to be saved, he clings to the image of “Stevie B,” the offbeat Baldwin brother, hobnobbing with reality TV stars who don’t lead Christian lifestyles, just so that he can still be an actor and maintain his celebrity status. Reality TV shows contribute to the so-called cultural breakdown that Baldwin rails against. Gossip Girl can’t be worse than much of reality television.
When Baldwin met Miley Cyrus and showed her some of his tattoos, she suggested he get a Hannah Montana tattoo. If he did it, she would get him a guest spot on her show. Baldwin did just that, burning an “HM” tattoo into his skin soon after. The guest spot on her show has yet to materialize. His pathetic attempts to cling to celebrity status don’t seem to be doing much good: Baldwin slid into bankruptcy last summer.
In His Own Words:
“What is freaky to me is the media and Hollywood is so convinced that Middle America and mainstream America cares what it thinks.”
"Why do they say that four more years of McCain is four more years of Bush? That’s the most stupidest thing I’ve ever heard in my life."
“You’d do far more good if you just preached the gospel of Jesus rather than trying to get rid of third world debt relief.”
“Not a lot of individuals get to refer to the Lord in their prayers as ‘Dude,’ but he’s doing a new thing with me.”
Rebecca Foerg-Spittel is a staff writer for Campus Progress. She attends the College of Holy Cross.
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