Angelina Jolie’s Spiritual Quest: Understanding Her Views on Religion

Angelina Jolie is not just a Hollywood superstar; she’s also known for her humanitarian efforts and strong beliefs. Over the years, many have wondered about Angelina Jolie’s religion and how it influences her life choices.

In this article, we will delve deep into her spiritual journey, exploring her beliefs, practices, and the impact they have on her philanthropic work.

Early Life and Upbringing

Angelina Jolie Young

Angelina Jolie was born on June 4, 1975 in Los Angeles, California to actors Jon Voight and Marcheline Bertrand.

Her father was Catholic while her mother was originally Catholic but later explored Buddhism. As a child, Jolie attended Catholic school while growing up.

Teenage Years and Hollywood Career

Angelina Jolie began her acting career as a teenager in the 1990s. She had small roles in films such as Lookin’ to Get Out and Cyborg 2 before her career-defining role in Hackers (1995). In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Jolie starred in several major Hollywood films that launched her to stardom, including Girl, Interrupted (1999), Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), Wanted (2008), and Salt (2010).

She became known for her action heroine roles in films like Tomb Raider, as well as for her wild and rebellious persona during this period. Jolie won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Girl, Interrupted. Her films during her early Hollywood career propelled her to become one of the highest paid actresses in the world.

Marriages to Actors

Angelina Jolie married British actor Jonny Lee Miller in 1996 after meeting on the set of their movie Hackers. Their wedding featured Jolie in black rubber pants and a white shirt with Miller’s name written in blood on the back. The marriage ended in 1999, with Jolie later stating she was too young and rebellious at the time.

In 2000, Jolie married actor Billy Bob Thornton. The two met on the set of Pushing Tin and bonded over their shared “dark sense of humor”. Neither Thornton nor Miller shared Jolie’s growing interest in Buddhism and spirituality during their marriages. The couple divorced in 2003.

Humanitarian Work and Activism

Angelina Jolie Faith

Angelina Jolie became a UN Goodwill Ambassador in 2001. She has used her fame to bring attention to humanitarian crises around the world, especially the plight of refugees. Jolie is known for her activism for refugees and women’s rights. She has visited refugee camps in over 30 countries and met with refugees and internally displaced persons. In 2012, she was promoted to Special Envoy to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Jolie has lobbied governments to provide more funding for refugees and create policies that are more welcoming to refugees. She also co-founded the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague in 2012 to combat the use of rape as a weapon in war. Through her humanitarian work, Jolie has become an influential voice on refugee rights and women’s issues globally.

Adoption of Maddox from Cambodia

In 2002, Angelina Jolie adopted her first child, Maddox Chivan, from an orphanage in Battambang, Cambodia. Jolie was filming Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in Cambodia at the time, which exposed her to Buddhism and sparked her interest in the religion. While visiting local Buddhist temples, she felt drawn to the country’s culture and people, especially after meeting Maddox.

Jolie decided to adopt Maddox as a single mother, beginning the process in 2002 when he was 7 months old. The adoption was finalized in March 2002 when Maddox was 1 year old. Raising Maddox exposed Jolie even more to Buddhism and Buddhist practices, which she incorporated into his upbringing. Her experience adopting Maddox from Cambodia was life-changing for Jolie, leading her to adopt more children from around the world and take on humanitarian work.

Exploring Buddhism

Angelina Jolie began studying Buddhist texts and practicing meditation in the early 2000s after becoming interested in Buddhism on the set of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, which was filmed in Cambodia. She started identifying herself as Buddhist around 2004. Jolie has said that Buddhism “is a religion of the mind” and that she doesn’t “think of myself as following it, just learning more about how to live life”.

She was especially drawn to Buddhist teachings about letting go of negative emotions and finding inner peace. Meditation became an important part of her daily routine as she went through difficulties in her personal life in the early 2000s.

UNHCR Work Exposes Her to Other Faiths

As a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Angelina Jolie has travelled to many countries with Muslim-majority populations like Pakistan, Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon. Her work with refugees exposed her to the Islamic faith and Muslim culture. During a 2016 speech on World Refugee Day, Jolie spoke at an interfaith Iftar dinner in Virginia with 50 Syrian refugees. She has also criticized political rhetoric against Muslim refugees, speaking out against Donald Trump’s proposed Muslim travel ban in 2016.

While Buddhism has influenced Jolie’s spiritual views, her humanitarian work has kept her open to learning about other faiths like Islam. She believes in respecting all religions and supporting refugees regardless of their background.

Tattoos Relating to Buddhism

Angelina Jolie Religion

Angelina Jolie has several tattoos relating to Buddhism. She has a Buddhist pali incantation tattooed on her right shoulder blade that translates to “May your enemies run far away from you. If you acquire riches, may they remain yours always. Your beauty will be that of Apsara. Wherever you may go, many will attend, serve and protect you, surrounding you on all sides.” This tattoo highlights her Buddhist beliefs in luck, virtue, wealth, and protection.

Additionally, Angelina has a large Bengal tiger tattoo on her lower back representing strength in the Buddhist tradition. The tiger is a symbol of inner strength and fearlessness in Buddhism. Her tattoo likely represents her drawing inner strength from her Buddhist faith.

Raising her Children

Angelina Jolie has 6 children – 3 adopted and 3 biological with Brad Pitt. She has focused on providing her children with exposure to various religions and cultures. Jolie has said “I think [religion] is an important part of a child’s life. I value it…We have Buddhist in the house, we have Christian in the house, we have atheist children, we have everything”.

However, Jolie has emphasized Buddhist principles and practices in raising her children, like meditation and mindfulness. She wants her children to find spiritual fulfillment, saying “I just want my children to be aware and responsible about the world they live in. And I want them to be full and happy in their lives”. Jolie exposes her kids to various faiths while instilling Buddhist values at home.

Current Religious Views

Angelina Jolie does not consider herself exclusively Buddhist, but she does identify with Buddhist principles and incorporates them into her life. Jolie has said “I don’t consider myself Buddhist and I don’t think I ever will, but I do try to put into practice some Buddhist principles”. She finds Buddhism’s emphasis on mindfulness, compassion for all people, and inner peace very appealing.

Jolie exposes her children to Buddhist teachings and tries to instill values of mindfulness and kindness in them. However, she also wants them to learn about other faiths and remain open-minded. She has stated, “I think you should take a little bit of everything that speaks to you and your faith and your principles and create your own faith”. So while Buddhist principles are important to her, Jolie does not limit herself or her family solely to that religion. She remains open and willing to continuing learning from all faith traditions.


Angelina Jolie’s religion is a complex tapestry of influences, reflecting her openness to different spiritual traditions and beliefs. While she does not adhere to any specific religious doctrine, her spirituality plays a profound role in shaping her worldview, values, and actions.

From her Catholic roots to her exploration of Buddhism and other spiritual paths, Jolie’s journey is a testament to the power of faith, compassion, and human connection. As she continues to make a difference through her philanthropic work, her spiritual beliefs will undoubtedly continue to guide and inspire her.

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Robert Davies

In my early twenties, I set out on a journey to find these answers, not just within the confines of Christianity, but by exploring the world's myriad faiths. I sought to understand what we, as a collective of human beings, believe in, and why.

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