A-list actor Matthew McConaughey has strong opinions on the state of religion and politics, which he generally keeps to himself. However, he recently shared in an interview what he referenced as the "bastardization of religion," calling it how it differentiates from its true origins.
Throughout his acting career, McConaughey, 46, mostly has kept his personal views private, however, his idiosyncratic characters have been opinionated, reports TWC Central. Ever since his early career-defining role in Dazed and Confused, the actor often chose oddball characters for his roles.
As Fenton Meiks in Bill Paxton's 2001 thriller Frailty, McConaughey's character's father becomes infused with religious fervor, which makes him a "righteous killer" of sorts, prompting allegorical connections to killer saints and biblical vengeance.
McConaughey also likes metaphysically challenging roles, such as Mud in 2012's Mud, his skeptical prosecutor in Bernie, or his time-hopping astronaut in Interstellar.
McConaughey's latest movie, The Free State of Jones, explores a controversial figure in U.S. History. Newton Knight generally is thought of in morally ambiguous terms. The Confederate Army defector, who turned pro-Union booster, led an armed rebellion of Southern Unionists and freed men from the swamps of Mississippi. Once led merely by libertarianism, Knight found inspiration in the Bible. Equally stirred by the eye-for-an-eye approach as the love-thy-neighbor concept, the rebellious man's most powerful legacy seems to be in stirring others to stand up for human equality.
McConaughey's character remained true to the literal roots of the Biblical spirit, which he told The Daily Beast he found refreshing: "if you look up the Latin root, 're' which means again, and 'ligare,' which means to bind together. It [religion] means exactly the opposite of what and how we are often practicing it these days!"
"It is my personal belief that mankind has bastardized religion," he said.
In 2014, McConaughey surprised everyone during his acceptance speech for his role in Dallas Buyers Club. During the speech, Time reported that McConaughey thanked God "because that's who I look up to. He's graced my life with opportunities that I know are not of my hand or any other human hand."
Although other actors have referenced God and religion in their Oscar speeches, some championed the actor as a Christian Hollywood icon.
McConaughey appears skeptical of the current divisiveness of religion in America.
Unlike his character, Rusty Cohle in True Detective, who notes that "certain linguistic anthropologists think that religion is a language virus that rewrites pathways in the brain. Dulls critical thinking," the actor has a more of a personal connection to religion.
Raised in Longview, Texas, by strict Methodists, McConaughey told the New Zealand Herald his mother forbade him from shortening his name. She insisted "your name is Matthew, I named you after the Bible. It is not Matt, do not ever answer to Matt in your life.' It was like 'Yes mam', so that's one of the things when people go 'Matt', I say 'Matthew, please'."
Regarding his own take on spirituality, McConaughey seems generally optimistic about the progress made in the United States since its beginning: "I'm not saying everything is just as they should be."
"But our ambition and our diligence to march forward for change, to test it out, to not give in to every new idea...Where do we hang onto tradition, and where do we progress with new ideas, and ones that will hopefully stand the test of time? That excites me about our country."