The Rushmore Report: The Faith and Politics of Sylvester Stallone

Sylvester Stallone has shifted from Catholic to a non-affiliated Christian. He was baptized, and grew up a Catholic, but temporarily stopped attending church after he became a successful actor. Still, by some accounts the Rocky films, which were written, directed, and starred in by Stallone, are some of Hollywood’s most religious mainstream films.

In 2006, Stallone stated that the Rocky films were based on Christian ideals: “This is a story of faith, integrity and victory. Jesus is the inspiration for anyone to go the distance. You could compare his courage to that of David, who as the epic underdog, defeated the giant Goliath in battle.”

That sounds accurate as Rocky II has: an in-church wedding, a scene where a priest blesses Rocky, an anti-condom joke. Rocky’s “thank you to God” speech after winning the fight and additionally, Rocky wears a cross throughout the film.

Stallone began attending Catholic mass again in 1996 – upon the birth of his sick daughter Sophia. As of 2006, Stallone was still attending mass regularly and identified as a practicing Catholic. But as of a 2010 interview, Stallone said, “I’m certainly not an atheist. I was baptized Catholic, but I don’t belong to a structured church. I have no opposition to it. I think there’s great nuggets of knowledge in there, some wonderful rules to live by.”

On the political front, Stallone has officially endorsed every Republican presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan. In 1985, Stallone personally met with Reagan, who endorsed Rocky IV and Rambo: First Blood II, for its being an inspiration to and symbol of the U.S. Army. A portrait of Ronald Reagan can be seen in Stallone’s office within the film Cobra, a film that has been described by critics as the right-wing version of Dirty Harry. This film demonstrates Stallone’s conservative views on law enforcement within the American legal system.

Stallone, along with Chuck Norris, popularized the patriotic American versus Communist action films of the 1980s. Rambo: First Blood II, Rambo III, and Rambo IV focus on an American veteran fighting against various Communist dictatorships. Rocky III was considered to be so conservative and anti-Communist that Ronald Reagan actually condemned it. Similarly, Rocky IV criticized Communism and the Soviet Union. Stallone has voiced support for strong anti-Communist foreign policies.

Rocky II and F.I.S.T. seem to take negative views on labor unions. Rocky II has Rocky getting fired because of inflexible union regulations and F.I.S.T. links unions to crime syndicates.

However, Stallone has also demonstrated a few liberal views. He has contributed campaign funds to a few Democrat politicians, including Bill Clinton, who Stallone defended during the White House sex scandal. Additionally, in 2013, Stallone stated that he opposes personal ownership of assault weapons: “I know people get upset and go, ‘They’re going to take away the assault weapon.’ But who needs an assault weapon? Like really, unless you’re carrying out an assault. You can’t hunt with it. Who is going to attack your house – an army?”

Stallone has stayed quiet on all other political issues; the rest seem open for debate.

About the Author

John Muller is an American television journalist. For the past five years, he has worked for ABC News as an entertainment anchor. Prior to taking the ABC position, Muller was a reporter and anchor in Georgia and Florida. A native of Tinton Falls, New Jersey, Muller is a graduate of New York University.

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