Russell Brand

Surely not since hardened Pharisee St Paul had his vision on the road to Damascus has there been quite such an unlikely convert to the Christian faith.

Russell Brand announced this week that he has become a Christian, and was baptised last weekend. The Apostle Paul was baptised in Damascus whereupon the ‘scales fell from his eyes’ and his blindness was cured. The disgraced comedian’s experience was apparently rather more prosaic: he says he was fully immersed in the notoriously dirty River Thames.

Russell Brand
Russell Brand

The Mail has learnt that the embattled Brand’s spiritual rebirth — if that is what it is — has been mirrored by an upturn in his earthly fortunes. Thames Valley Police has closed its investigation into allegations by a woman that he stalked and harassed her between 2018 and 2022.

A Thames Valley spokesman said: ‘We have conducted a thorough investigation. There are now no new lines of inquiry, unless any new information comes to light.’ Brand remains the subject of a parallel inquiry by the Metropolitan Police over various allegations of sexual offences.

He has been accused by four women of rape, sexual assault and emotional abuse alleged to have been committed during a seven-year period from 2006 to 2013 when he was at the height of his fame and working for the BBC and Channel 4 as well as acting in Hollywood films.

Russell Brand announced this week that he has become a Christian, and was baptised last weekend. He says he was fully immersed in the notoriously dirty River Thames

Russell Brand announced this week that he has become a Christian, and was baptised last weekend. He says he was fully immersed in the notoriously dirty River Thames

All Saints, an Anglican church near Brand's home in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, seemed a likely candidate to have baptised him - yet the Church has denied doing it

All Saints, an Anglican church near Brand’s home in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, seemed a likely candidate to have baptised him – yet the Church has denied doing it

Brand has strenuously denied the allegations, insisting his relationships were ‘always consensual’.

His interest in Christianity, nevertheless, appears to have increased markedly since he was embroiled in the accusations in 2023. Brand said he got baptised as he saw it as ‘an opportunity to leave the past behind’ and ‘leave behind the sins’.

Reaction to news of his baptism has been mixed. Some Christians have welcomed him into the faith, citing Luke’s Gospel on God’s greater joy over a single sinner who repents than over 99 people who remain righteous.

Others are sceptical, some suspecting a publicity stunt to burnish his reputation and others doubtful about a man who promotes many New Age ideas and philosophies, and who appears to have a pick ‘n’ mix attitude to religion.

He previously said he was a Buddhist, and hours after his baptism he posted online a video in which he discussed predicting the future with tarot cards.

Brand claimed ‘a lot of Christians would say tarot and even yoga is a kind of heresy’, but — indulging his pretentious and not always convincing passion for long words — asked whether people could follow ‘hybrid modalities’ in their beliefs.

Brand has had a crucifix tattooed on his right arm dating back to at least 2019 which suggests his interest in Christianity isn’t entirely fabricated.

He told his four million Instagram followers that his baptism was an ‘incredible and profound experience’.

He said: ‘This is my path now. And I already feel incredibly blessed, relieved, nourished, held.’

However, Brand, whose wife Laura (daughter of golfer Bernard Gallacher) is Catholic, was strangely vague about into which church he has been received.

And one would have thought any cleric baptising as notorious a delinquent as Brand — who has spoken openly about his previous womanising and drug use — wouldn’t hesitate to say so. But investigations by the Mail around Brand’s home near Marlow, on the Thames in Buckinghamshire, found that nobody, even from a church he has attended, could offer any clue as to who baptised him or where.

Reaction to news of Brand's baptism has been mixed. Some Christians have welcomed him into the faith while others are sceptical that it's just a publicity stunt to save his reputation

Reaction to news of Brand’s baptism has been mixed. Some Christians have welcomed him into the faith while others are sceptical that it’s just a publicity stunt to save his reputation

In March, Brand said he’d visited Anglican and Catholic churches and was considering Orthodox ones. He has made repeated references to Catholicism in his online missives and recently used a rosary to pray. He says he has used a Catholic prayer app, Hallow, and watched the videos of a YouTube Catholic priest, Father Mike Schmitz.

However, Catholic canon law states that except in ‘necessity’, baptisms should take place in a church or oratory. Catholic sources have said it is most unlikely the ceremony was carried out by a Catholic cleric.

Brand has also said he has investigated Anglicanism, taking the evangelistic Alpha course.

Anglican churches sometimes perform river baptisms including in the Thames, as do Pentecostal ones. According to Brand, he plucked petals from a flower to decide which church would baptise him, reciting: ‘Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist, Pentecostal…’

A river baptism sounds like classic Brand — not for him a simple splash of water from a church font, it has to be melodramatic.

But the Mail visited churches and spoken to clergy and church officials across Henley-on-Thames and Marlow and none confessed to the deed. Dennis Harwood, warden at St Peter and St Paul’s Church in Medmenham, near Marlow said ‘We’re totally traditional in the Hambleden valley group and use fonts in the church and that’s it.

‘No churches in the valley participate in that sort of service.’

One church leader said: ‘We do do baptisms but we do them here in the church, but that’s not theatrical enough for him.’

Most churches baptise only at the font. One exception is All Saints, an Anglican church in Marlow that also runs Alpha courses and which Brand has attended in the past, according to a photo on social media. It seemed a likely candidate yet All Saints also denied doing it.

Father Calvin Robinson, the Old Catholic priest and conservative commentator, posted on X (formerly Twitter) last Friday urging people to ‘please keep Russell Brand in your prayers. As he approaches his Baptism, and immediately afterwards, he is going to be under heavy attack from the enemy. There will be those who tempt him, doubt him, resent him, trip him up, fight over his denomination’.

But of the baptism, he says: ‘It wasn’t me but it is a very good thing. I am praying for him.

A nd where might Brand have been baptised? Brand’s own garden at the pretty thatched house he bought for £3million in 2015 leads directly down to the river.

But no neighbours noticed a baptism. One pointed out that though the river looks calm, it’s quite choppy as it is near a lock.

One elderly neighbour laughed and said: ‘I can’t believe he’d have been baptised in this part of the Thames — he’d have been washed away and never seen again.’

Brand famously upset the locals when he bought The Crown Inn, in the hamlet of Pishill in south Oxfordshire, and turned it into the base for his internet broadcasting career. The Mail reported in January that despite being ‘cancelled’ over the sexual offences allegations, he makes millions from ‘ranting conspiracy theory videos’, recorded in the converted pub for the social media platform, Rumble.

But Brand seems popular with his neighbours, who say he chats to them when he’s out jogging or walking the dog.

Some were taken aback by news he had been baptised.

Shepherd Sam Horner said: ‘The thing is he’s a big advocate of not going in the river because it’s filthy.’

Another stifled a laugh when told Brand had been baptised in the Thames. ‘He’ll have caught a few bugs in there. That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard. I’ve not seen Russell for a long time. That’s pure comedy.’

Brand likes to raise a laugh but that can’t have been the response he anticipated over his watery admission to the Christian faith.

Additional reporting: Stephanie Condron and Ross Slater

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