“I wouldn’t consider myself religious,” Justin Bieber says in a new Vogue interview
Though they’d met as children in 2009, their first real connection came at a service for the Hillsong Church in New York City several years later. “One day Justin walked into Hillsong and was like, ‘Hey, you got older.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, what’s up?’” Baldwin, 22, remembers. “Over time he became my best guy friend. I was running around with him as his homie, but we weren’t hanging out [romantically].”
They ultimately did date briefly. While they remain vague on the precise details of their (temporary) split, they allude to some form of betrayal. “Negative things happened that we still need to talk about and work through,” Baldwin says. “’Fizzled’ would not be the right word — it was more like a very dramatic excommunication. There was a period where if I walked into a room, he would walk out.”
The pair would cross paths again in June 2018 at a religious conference in Miami, where they connected on a romantic — and spiritual — level. Within weeks they were engaged and in September they said “I do” at a courthouse ceremony in New York City.
“The common denominator, I promise you, is always church,” Baldwin says of their union. “By then we were past the drama.”
Despite their devotion to God, Bieber, 24, is hesitant to put any labels on himself.
“I wouldn’t consider myself religious,” he says. “That confuses a lot of people because they’re like, ‘Well, you go to church.’ I believe in the story of Jesus — that’s the simplicity of what I believe. But I don’t believe in all the religious elitism and pretentiousness, like people are better than you because they come to church, like you have to go to church and dress a certain way. I get sensitive when religion comes up because it’s been so hurtful to a lot of people. I don’t want to be thought of as someone who stands for any of the injustice that religion has done and does do.”
Bieber has recently been taking a break from music in order to work on what he calls “character stuff” with his full attention and energy.
“Just thinking about music stresses me out,” he says. “I’ve been successful since I was thirteen, so I didn’t really have a chance to find who I was apart from what I did. I just needed some time to evaluate myself: who I am, what I want out of my life, my relationships, who I want to be — stuff that when you’re so immersed in the music business you kind of lose sight of.”