November 28th, 2012
02:25 PM ET
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
(CNN) – The Alabama-based evangelist Christopher Hudson has posted online videos promoting his Seventh-day Adventist faith for years, but none generated the response of the one he posted a few days ago, featuring “Two and a Half Men” actor Angus T. Jones.
The video shows Jones, the CBS sitcom’s “half man,” describing the show he has appeared in for nearly a decade as “filth” and discouraging viewers from tuning in – which has attracted a crush of media attention.
Hudson, who flew to Los Angeles last week to tape the video with the 19-year-old actor, says his phone has been ringing off the hook ever since he posted the video online on Sunday.
Suddenly, reporters and plenty of others who’ve tuned into the wildly popular “Two and Half Men” want to know about the Seventh-day Day Adventist tradition, which Jones says in the online video he has recently joined, connecting his conversion to his new outlook on the show.
“I just kept learning the basic messages of the Seventh-day Adventist Church,” Jones says in the video, telling of stopping into a Seventh-day Adventist Church with a friend recently and finding himself gripped by the pastor’s message. “I just loved it.”
“Some of my family was like, 'Oh, he’s joining that SDA church – those cults' … and tried to get me to get out of there,” Jones continues in the video. “But I didn’t feel like I was being fooled. I could study it for myself.”
In a statement released Tuesday, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America says Jones joined one of its Southern California congregations in June.
“Recently, Angus made some statements concerning his spiritual journey and expressed his views concerning the television program Two and a Half Men,” the statement says. “These comments are of a personal nature, reflecting his views after having undergone changes during his spiritual journey.”
“We welcome him with open arms to the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church family and are excited about his commitment to God through his recent baptism at his church.”
Religion scholars say they were not surprised by Jones’ comments deriding “Two and a Half Men,” speculating that his remarks might speak to the zeal of a new convert and to some of the particular tenets of Seventh-day Adventism.
“Seventh-day Adventism has traditionally sought to practice a purity of life in all its expressions – leading a healthy lifestyle in all ways,” says Dell De Chant, a religious studies professor at the University of Southern Florida. “For Seventh-day Adventists, the body is God’s temple.”
“Everything from bad food to bad jokes would be considered a religious violation,” he says, referring to the raunchy humor that is a hallmark of “Two and a Half Men.”
One explanation for the abstemious Seventh-day Adventist lifestyle – which includes avoiding meat and alcohol – is a belief that we are living in the end times, and that Jesus Christ’s return is imminent.
The Seventh-day Adventist faith, part of the Protestant Christian tradition, emerged in the mid-1800s among a group of Americans who were anticipating the end of the world in a very real sense.
After the predicted date came and went – an event known to history as the “Great Disappointment” – the visions of a leader named Ellen White led to a reinterpretation of biblical prophesy and gave birth to the Seventh-day Adventists.
The tradition, which claims 17 million members around the world, takes its name from its observance of the Saturday Sabbath.
It still has an apocalyptic orientation. Hudson, the evangelist who taped the Jones video, is fond of citing the Book of Revelation, which revolves around the end of the world.
“We are sharing the gospel to hasten the second coming of Jesus Christ,” says Hudson, who contacted Jones through a California-based Seventh-day Adventist ministry.
Speaking about “Two and a Half Men," which was in the headlines last year after the very public departure of star Charlie Sheen, Hudson says, “We don’t want anything debilitating our natural capacities in our mind.”
“We have to cast off the works of darkness, from fornication to drunkenness to the things that may be a part of pop culture,” he says.
In its statement on Tuesday, the Seventh-day Adventist Church alludes to Hudson, saying the person who hosts the media ministry where the Jones interview was posted is not a Seventh-day Adventist pastor.
Hudson, for his part, says he was born into the Seventh-day Adventist Church and was baptized in the year 2000, describing himself as an evangelist who “travels around and shares the message of Jesus.”
His ministry, the Forerunner Chronicles, posted the video on its website.
On Tuesday, Jones released a statement apologizing for possibly offending the cast and crew of “Two and a Half Men” in the video.
“I have been the subject of much discussion, speculation and commentary over the past 24 hours,” Jones says in the statement. “While I cannot address everything that has been said or right every misstatement or misunderstanding, there is one thing I want to make clear.
“Without qualification,” the statement continues, “I am grateful to and have the highest regard and respect for all of the wonderful people on Two and Half Men with whom I have worked and over the past ten years who have become an extension of my family. “
The statement does not mention Jones’ newfound faith. But Hudson says he talked to Jones on Monday and that “he is certainly maintaining himself quite well.”
“I really have a great deal of respect for this young man,” Hudson says. “He is mature beyond his years.”
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team and frequent posts from religion scholar and author Stephen Prothero.