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What we may have in common with 'Two and a Half Men' actor
Angus T. Jones, left, in an episode of "Two and a Half Men."
November 29th, 2012
03:12 PM ET

What we may have in common with 'Two and a Half Men' actor

By Michael Martinez, CNN

Hollywood, California (CNN) -In the introduction to the TV sitcom "Two and a Half Men," actor Angus T. Jones morphs from boy to teen before our eyes. Now we're watching the actor venture into adulthood and the complicated moral questions that come with it.

This week in posted Internet videos, Jones announced his ethical and religious awakening by condemning as "filth" the CBS show that made him rich and famous.

Jones isn't alone in facing his crisis of conscience. His experience, though dramatic, is universal in how many job holders struggle to reconcile work and spiritual values, experts say.

"At some level, all of us, probably not publicly, ask the hard question that he's asking," said David Miller, director of Princeton University's Faith & Work Initiative.

"What is the honor and dignity and meaning and purpose of (our) work? Is our work for making a good buck and has no ethical or moral or societal value, or should our work have a more noble dimension to it?" Miller said. "As we look at him afar, he's doing a service by raising the same question."

Clearly, we all can't make such loud declarations about our jobs. But Jones enjoys privileges.

‘Two and a Half Men’ actor’s criticism of show shines light on Seventh-day Adventists

He's a millionaire Hollywood figure on one of television's most successful shows. And he's only 19 years old.

"What he's displaying is the kind of passion that commonly infects the newly converted or those that have just found religion," said Paul Root Wolpe, director of the Center for Ethics at Emory University. "It's also a very easy thing to do in that he's already become wealthy and famous for how long now - nine years."

The hard question

Jones poses a hard question, encountered by all who believe in a supreme being, Miller said.

"Instead of saying, 'What do I want to do with my life?' he's asking, 'What would be pleasing to God?' And that's a very different metric," Miller said.

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Such moral conflicts play out in many professions, with physicians and abortions, pharmacists and the morning-after pill, and financiers and greedy strategies, say ethicists and other experts. In Jones' case, the actor seems at odds with the "artificial environment of show business," Wolpe said.

The answers fall across a spectrum.

"So what do you do?" said Miller, who, before joining academia, was a business and finance executive. "Do you walk away from the question mark, or do you stay and try to change within the question mark?

"Maybe he'll stay in Hollywood and try to find work more in line with his values. Or will Hollywood spit him out?" Miller said.

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The actor has apologized for any offense to the cast and crew of "Two and a Half Men," where he's worked since 2003.

He said in a statement: "I apologize if my remarks reflect me showing indifference to and disrespect of my colleagues and a lack of appreciation of the extraordinary opportunity of which I have been blessed. I never intended that."

But in an online video earlier this week, Jones repeatedly urges viewers not to watch the show, in which he plays an only child growing up amid male adult antics in a Malibu beachfront house.

"I'm on 'Two and a Half Men,' and I don't want to be on it," he said. "You cannot be a true God-fearing person and be on a television show like that. I know I can't. I'm not OK with what I'm learning, what the Bible says, and being on that television show. You go all or nothing."

Jones also references "the enemy's" deception, an apparent allusion to the devil, and asserts "There's no playing around when it comes to eternity."

Seventh-day Adventist

In June, Jones joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church, a Protestant faith with 1.1 million members in North America. The church says it's not involved with Jones' online testimonials nor with video host Christopher Hudson of the Forerunner Chronicles, whose website emphasizes Judgment Day and the Bible's Book of Revelation. Hudson couldn't be reached for comment.

It's too early to discern what impact Jones' testimonial will have on the sitcom and his career. Jones won't appear in the two remaining episodes now being taped before the holiday break, sources close to production told CNN. His absence was scripted well before the videos' release Monday, the sources said.

Almost two years ago, "Two and a Half Men" was embroiled in another controversy centered on a prominent cast member: Charlie Sheen, who was fired after public rants that included invectives against producer Chuck Lorre.

Wolpe wonders if Jones went too far.

"Interestingly, that show plays on exactly the kind of immaturity he plays on," Wolpe said. "The show itself has an adolescent, prurient sense of humor.

"This show is deeply kind of misogynistic and very male - it's like a fraternity in there with a revolving door of women," he said. "So it's not surprising that he expresses dissatisfaction and estrangement from the show in a way that was equally immature.

"I don't know if he can recover from this or not," Wolpe added.

Jones' passion reflects how ethics vary among the faithful.

"You have to keep in mind that it really means different things to different people," said Diana Cates, a University of Iowa professor of religious ethics. "Even within a given religious tradition, there's so much diversity. There are people on the edges who identify with one tradition or blend traditions."

Frequently, a conversion or awakening such as Jones' renounces the past.

"In terms of radical conversion experiences, the life that one has immediately, previously led is often denied or criticized severely," said Joseph Price, a professor of religious studies at Whittier College in California. "The life itself is not denied - but the lifestyle is," he added. "It often results from a crisis of conscience or a perceived revelation of some kind."

Price likened actors to athletes and recalled how baseball player Billy Sunday was a "rabble rouser and carouser" around the turn of the 20th century. Then, after a religious experience, Sunday quit baseball and became a preacher who fought to make alcoholic beverages illegal, he said.

"When persons find authenticity in a lifestyle that embraces the good, it often prompts them to make shifts in their own lives in profound ways," Price said. "If that's the case here, we'll be able to see how it affects the long run of his nonacting life and his presence in the series and in television itself."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Money & Faith • TV • Work

soundoff (1,088 Responses)
  1. neewomm89

    The worst thing about that photo is he has a deployment patch but not a unit patch. Nice job Hollywood you cant even get a uniform right.

    November 30, 2012 at 12:02 am |
    • Good Christian

      Who cares? The Coast Guard is old news, anyway.

      November 30, 2012 at 12:13 am |
    • whatev

      Well if the kid feels this way, then he should donate every cent he ever made from the show to his church. Don't just talk the talk, walk the walk.

      November 30, 2012 at 12:13 am |
  2. ACE

    If he doesn't like it he should just finish out his contract and then leave! That and the producers need to fix that uniform hes wearing! Combat patch on wrong and not wearing a unit patch JEEZ!!!

    November 29, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
    • Rich

      Im glad i wasnt the only one who noticed the uniform! Im a former 3rd ID Dog Soldier and i noticed the Combat Patch wrong right away! Rock of The Marne!!!!

      November 29, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
    • Nostalgia1

      Yeah....so bad he continues to cash his $350,000 checks from this "filthy show." WHATEVER!!!!

      November 29, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • David

      Fire the little jerk. When he gives the millions back then talk about it.

      November 30, 2012 at 12:03 am |
  3. PhillyGuy

    If that's how he feels now, why should he give the money back? He made his money honestly in a legitimate profession. What does how much money he made on the show before he decided to be a christian make the money bad now? Money is amoral. It changes it's morality depending upon the intentions of the person that is handling it.

    Acting was his profession before he became a christian, so there's nothing hypocritical about him keeping the money that he worked for. Would you give back all of your salary after working for Budweiser if you all of a sudden stopped drinking? Your own moral decisions don't change the fact that you earned an honest living beforehand.

    The difference now is that Jones is telling you that he has now made a decision as an adult to not go along further with the show that he's been employed to for some years. Would you people say the same thing to lawyers, or doctors that feel differently about how they practice their profession? Not at all, some of you are the real hypocrites.

    November 29, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • Doc Ock

      He is calling the show filth and asking people not to watch it, so if he really feels that way he should stop accepting money for it both for current work and future royalties. According to his words the show profits from sin. If the devil is making you rich and you accept the money, then what does that say about you?

      November 29, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
    • Nostalgia1

      Has he left the show since finding "Jesus?" Will he stop cashing in on royalties from re-runs of the show? I'm guess NOT! He is a typical full of BS over paid actor who needs attention. Yes, that makes him SUPER HYPCRITICAL!!! and a sad P.O.S who has no SELF ESTEEM beyond his paycheck. Shallow P.O.S.

      November 29, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
  4. David Claytor

    It doesn't matter how much money Angus makes, that is not an issue. What really needs to be discussed is the "filth" on TV that masquerades as "entertainment" and thereby "ok" to be viewed. Let's talk about the filth not how much money Angus makes.

    November 29, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • Doc Ock

      Familiar with a lot of the filth on TV are you? Hmmmmm....

      November 29, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
    • sam stone

      david: got one of them TVs without an "off" button or a channel changer?

      November 30, 2012 at 2:31 am |
  5. Wendy

    I am thrilled that a Hollywood actor has spoken out about this show and its negative message that it preaches to the world like so many other shows do. Whether this actor has recently found God in his life or if this is something that he has been pondering for awhile at least he voiced his concern. It has nothing to do with his financial status, but it has everything to do with his spiritual status and his convictions. He was respectful to the producers of the show in what he said. He had to be honest with them and with himself. As believers it is a matter of 'what would be pleasing to God?' not "what would be pleasing to myself". He is on the right path and wherever this path leads him he will be successful. Who really cares if it is success by Hollywood standards?

    November 29, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
    • Doc Ock

      His financial status has a lot to do with this. If he truly believes that the show is "filth" and he is worried about eternity then he needs to address the money he has earned by being involved with said filth. Give it to charity, sick kids etc. then his words mean something. If the show is wrong and he is telling people not to watch it then he most certainly would be wrong in continuing to accept money for his involvement would he not?

      November 29, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
    • sam stone

      he called the show "filth". is that respectful to the producers of said "filth"?

      November 30, 2012 at 2:33 am |
    • sam stone

      also,wendy, the show is for entertainment, not preaching.

      November 30, 2012 at 2:35 am |
  6. Jeff

    Most of these comments are completely vicious and insensitive. Shame on you.

    November 29, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
  7. davia55

    How much does Angus T. Jones make per episode of Two and a Half Men? $350,000 making him the highest paid young person on television. $350,000 per episode translates to $8.4 million per season!

    November 29, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
  8. davia55

    oh quit your whinning

    November 29, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
  9. NorCalMojo

    Just a kid being a rebel. Religion is the new punk.

    November 29, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
  10. Doc Ock

    Pretty simple kid; quit the show and take the millions of dollars you have earned from "filth" over the years and donate it all to needy children. Otherwise you're simply another religious hypocrite telling people not to watch a "filthy TV Show" that has made you, and continues to make you, a multi-millionaire. Can't keep the money given to you by the Devil right?

    November 29, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
  11. PaulC

    I think he should be written out of the series and spared the "FILTH".
    He could find a spot on the Bennie Hinn show.

    November 29, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • sam stone

      .....or a Kirk Cameron production

      November 30, 2012 at 2:38 am |
  12. Boris

    Angus, if you regret your involvment with the "filthy" show, are you still going to keep all the money they paid you for being there?

    November 29, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
  13. you2

    This summer I read that Angus thought he would quit acting after Men, and get a degree in something. I found respect for his statement. Now, he is talking exactly like a 19yo who just found religion. Still a kid! Many of us shudder to think of the beliefs we had at 19. But few cared what we said. He's still young enough to think we care what he thinks.
    I always thought Angus had the best job in Hollywood. All he had to do was show up and act dopey. He had good timing, and the adults did the heavy lifting.

    November 29, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yup. And like most kids, he doesn't realize how lucky he is to have had a chance to do what most kids only dream of doing. I am pretty sure he'll live to regret his actions.

      November 29, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
  14. jake

    finally, a well written article on CNN. I couldn't help but click, and glad I did.

    November 29, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
    • greg

      yup.

      November 29, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
  15. Anne S.

    Funny how tthings change...who's fault is it in the first place? His parents that's who. Why leave him star on such a show. They probably were enjoying the money he was raking in. And now that he has grown up and got religion and rolling in dough he is finding it offensive.

    November 29, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • Saraswati

      He says in the video he attended 'Christian school', so it may not have been that big a leap for him or his parents.

      November 29, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
  16. wakeuppeople

    This kid should show some respect to the show that pays him $300,000 per episode. It's just a show, it's adult humour. If for whatever reason your fairytale religion doesn't want you to watch funny sitcoms, by all means, don't watch it. This kid should be worried less about fairytales, and more about tapping miley cyrus, cause she looked fantastic and extra yummy in that episode. Boing!

    November 29, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • Ash

      @wakeuppeople...They pay him this amount because of losers like you!

      November 29, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • Brad

      @Ash: Wow. That was pathetic...

      November 30, 2012 at 8:53 am |
  17. June

    Poor baby, I feel so bad for him! Being sucked into a Satan worshipping cult is a terrible thing. I hope his family is helping him become aware of the danger he is in and works with a good christian group to take him away from the cult before they hurt him and his family. There are groups that deal wtih the terrible brainwashing and damage groups like this do but until, like an addict, they realize they are evil, they refuse to do anything about it and just push that evil on others. I wonder if he will start raping children like the other Seventh day adventist David Koresh did. I hope Angus doesn't go the same way their leader did!

    November 29, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • Steven

      Koresh wasnt an SDA, June. He was a Branch Davidian, which is a group that was thrown out of the SDA church. Wikipedia explains Seventh Day Adventism well. Check out the truth!

      November 29, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • sam stone

      Watching the pious turn on each other like sharks in a blood rage is kind of entertaining

      November 30, 2012 at 2:42 am |
  18. jt

    another religious hypocrite. what else is new

    November 29, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • jerry

      a religous bigot ha ha what a joke first of all i dont believe in religion and secondly i could care less what you call me this garbage thjat is on tv today is nothing but filth

      December 1, 2012 at 4:05 am |
  19. jerry

    the sad thing is, is that he recanted what he said thats the sad part why appologize for speaking the truth about something, i coulnt agree more with what he sai\d about the show and that it is pure filth and garbage just like all the other sit coms that are on tv today pure GARBAGE and FILTH

    November 29, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • sybaris

      That channel changer thingy does work ya know.

      November 29, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
  20. Reasonably

    "What I'm doing is bad and I'm saying something about it!"
    "Oh wait, I could lose my cush big $$ job"
    "I take it back"
    And the beat goes on...

    November 29, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
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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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.