Although Jencarlos Canela performed as Jesus Christ in Fox TV's live musical The Passion Sunday evening, the singer-songwriter doesn't profess to being the typically devout, religious man in his real life. He praises peace and love, and has respect for the symbol of the cross, however said, "But sometimes when I walk into church and see the image of Jesus nailed to the cross, I wonder, do I need to constantly be exposed to that to remember what my Father did for me?"
"I was raised Catholic, but I consider myself more spiritual than religious," Canela told People magazine.
Canela, who co-stars with Eva Longoria on the new series "Telenovela," told Billboard it was interesting playing such a meaningful figure. When asked if he had reservations about taking on the role, he got into his thoughts on religion, saying: "I think for my generation, religion has such a bad name because of human error. We made the mistake of attaching the word 'God' to the word 'religion' -- the word "God" is way bigger."
"Whether you're a believer or not, this story (The Passion) is way more than that. It's about love, unity, acceptance, forgiveness, facing your fears, and being able to do anything to conquer them so you can be the best person you can. I needed to hear that message. I'm no one to preach, but when I saw the trailer, I understood and identified more than ever with this amazing story that is part of the fabric of our lives," said Canela.
The Floridian said he feels that "human error" has created a "disconnect from religion" for himself and others.
The Passion was a story about the last hours of Jesus with a modern twist -- it was set and filmed in present-day New Orleans, featuring pop songs from Céline Dion, Katy Perry and Imagine Dragons. Jesus was taken away by police officers in riot gear. Tyler Perry narrated. Hundreds of people carried a giant cross through the streets of The Big Easy, surrounded by a live audience of an estimated 25,000 to 30,000. It showcased Trisha Yearwood, Seal and Chris Daughtry.
Canela said the two-hour live, musical event presented a different, but faithful depiction of Christ's final hours.
"We can't allow anyone to tell us how our relationship with God must be," said Canela.
"We can choose our own path. And at the end of the day, all that matters is that we are on that path with a supreme being who helps us strive to become better people, a better version of ourselves."
This is not about "performing" perfectly, this is about letting the emotions take control, Canela posted on his Facebook page just before the live show. "I don't want you all to listen, I rather you FEEL. I hope you guys enjoy the message of love that it brings."
A fan, Dusan Daniel Radusin, posted Monday that he thought the show was fantastic with beautiful work done with the music and the modernization of the story. "It brought me and my wife to tears, and gave us joy at the same time, seeing people being effected by hearing about God's love for us, and the hope and power of faith in Christ! Thank you for that wonderful performance! Loved it! God bless you!"