Image Credits: Demi Lovato / Instagram
As a Christian woman, it can be extremely discouraging to seek spiritual growth with so many people criticizing and judging you. For Demi Lovato, a celebrity self-described as a Christian with Jewish ancestors, being in the spotlight compounded this criticism. She recently posted photos on Instagram following a trip she was gifted to visit Israel. There, she was baptized in the Jordan River, volunteered at the Shalva National Center, visited Yad Vashem, and more. Demi is well-known for being a superb singer, but is also very vocal about her struggle with drug abuse, mental health, and body image. In a YouTube Original documentary, “Simply Complicated,” Lovato was very candid about these struggles and her story as a whole. So when Lovato captioned her Instagram posts about the “sense of spirituality and connection to God” which she found in Israel, fans and strangers alike reported on and rejoiced in her journey for “renewal,” peace, and healing. Especially after enduring so many struggles in her life, Lovato has been in the hearts of many, and Christians in particular were uplifted to know how great of an impact Lovato’s baptism and spiritual journey had on her.
Yet it wasn’t long before support was superseded by backlash by the general public and mass media, bringing Lovato to apologize for her trip. Some fans were outraged because Lovato had been given this trip free of charge, suggesting that those sponsoring her were making a political statement. Regardless of whether or not that was the case, Lovato herself did not view the trip as political (as she stated in her apology), nor did she post anything political about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But even if she had, she should not have been shamed into apology nor regret.
In the apology she posted on her Instagram story, Lovato said:
“I’m extremely frustrated. I accepted a free trip to Israel in exchange for a few posts. No one told me there would be anything wrong with going or that I could possibly be offending anyone. With that being said, I’m sorry if I’ve hurt or offended anyone, that was not my intention. Sometimes people present you with opportunities and no one tells you the potential backlash you could face in return. This was meant to be a spiritual experience for me, NOT A POLITICAL STATEMENT and now I realize it hurt people and for that I’m sorry. Sorry I’m not more educated, and sorry for thinking this trip was just a spiritual experience.”
I understand that the pressure to apologize would be hard on anyone, especially someone unfamiliar with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and unrelated to politics, but Lovato should not have felt forced to do so. Prior to backlash, she obviously did not link her spiritual trip to politics, so it is saddening to think that every time she looks back on this journey she once cherished, she’ll feel shame and confusion.
This apology is proof of how toxic polarized people can be, for Lovato was drawn into the political realm by other people, even though she was not political herself. It is very common to hear people complain about celebrities being too political nowadays, but even when Lovato avoided doing so, people forced her into political conversations. Not only that, but they made her feel as if it was her misconception for “thinking this trip was just a spiritual experience,” because the tense suggests that she now no longer views it as such.
We live in an extremely polarized world, so it is saddening to see anyone apologize after embracing unity and compassion, as Lovato did when she posted about Yad Vashem and Shalva National Center. Judeo-Christian values and cooperation tie so much of the population together and it was undoubtedly inspirational to see Lovato showcase them. Israel is home to people of all three Abrahamic religions, and to see it in such bad light is discouraging to say the least. Especially considering other countries in the Middle East, the fact that people of all religions, lifestyles, and ideologies are welcome there is an amazing feat.