Making people 'Beliebers'

If Twitter is any indication of fame, Justin Bieber has nearly 13 million followers to prove his popularity. He's the subject of countless books, and a Laguna Beach author has added one more to that list.

In March, Cathleen Falsani was eating sushi with friend David Vanderveen when the idea struck her to write a book on religion and the teen idol.

"We were chatting about book ideas I was tossing around," she said. "At some point in the conversation he just sort of mentioned, 'I think you really should do a book called "The Gospel According to Justin Bieber." ' "

The former Chicago-Sun Times religion writer thought it was a brilliant idea. Two weeks later, she had a book contract.

Falsani's book, "Belieber! Fame, Faith and the Heart of Justin Bieber," which came out Sept. 27, investigates the role of religion in the pop star's public dialogue.

Falsani used TV interviews, social media and Justin's latest film, "Never Say Never," to point out the singer's religiosity and the way it influences his public image.

"As someone who studies popular culture for a living, focusing particular attention on the busy intersection of culture and faith, when I spot a phenomenon as multifaceted and powerful as Justin and his Beliebers, I tend to think there is something more going on. Something spiritual," she says in the book's first chapter.

Falsani was fascinated by the 17 year-old's rise to fame — from living with his single mother in subsidized housing in Ontario, Canada, to becoming one of the biggest names in the world.

"It was literally like a fairy tale," she said. "He was discovered out of nowhere, overnight."

She's also studied his outreach. The implication of having 40 million Facebook fans and what that means is hard for the public, let alone Justin, to grasp.

"Justin's reach is far more immediate and global than the Beatles were able to do at the time," Falsani said, comparing his cultural influence to Beatlemania.

Due to Twitter, "his fans feel like they have a chance that he'll see what they say to him and he does," she said.

The book points out how his mother, Pattie Mallette, wants Justin to be surrounded by people with good values, many of which are Christian.

On Twitter, Justin regularly marks tweets with hashtags such as #pray, #blessed and #grateful. He also encourages his fans to #killemwithkindness and #payitforward.

However, Falsani noticed that although his Christianity is public, many "Beliebers" don't know.

"He's not beating people over the head with a Bible," she said.

Falsani never had the chance to talk to Justin but did try to contact him. Falsani said she doesn't think the book would have turned out much different either way.

She said she did not create anything but instead intended to "paint a picture" for her readers.

"I wanted to provide something that might explain why they are fans," she said of his Beliebers. "It's a reflection of what any other fan might know."

For more information, visit or follow Falsani on Twitter @godgrrl.

Twitter: @joannaclay

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