Kirk Cameron may be the only person in history to be born again twice. First, he found God in the late 1980s while he was starring on the ABC sitcom "Growing Pains." Now, he's found a new calling as the entertainment industry's go-to guy for inflammatory commentary on hot-button issues.
When Cameron appeared on Tuesday's "Today" show to discuss his new documentary, "Monumental," co-hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb quickly steered the conversation toward the controversy surrounding Todd Akin's "legitimate rape" comment. It was almost like a dare: Say something outrageous, Kirk.
And Cameron didn't disappoint. Despite the fact that even Mitt Romney has called for Akin to drop out of the Missouri Senate race after making the inexplicable claim that women's bodies have the power to halt the reproductive process during a rape, Cameron was all too happy to come to Akin's defense -- or so it seemed.
"This is a man who is advocating the sanctity of life through and through," he said. "He said he misspoke, and he apologized for it. I like to evaluate people based on their entire life, their entire career, all they stand for."
Dozens of news outlets pounced on the comment, running amok with stories about how Cameron had defended Akin. That same day, a post appeared on kirkcameron.com, apparently written by Cameron himself, who stated that his comments on the "Today" show had been "grossly misrepresented" by the news media.
"I did not and do not defend Akin's misspoken comments," the post said. "He admitted he misspoke, and he apologized."
Cameron has long been outspoken about his religious beliefs, including making rampant denunciations of evolution and the scientific method in general, but his public statements reached rabble-rousing status during a March interview with Piers Morgan in which he called homosexuality "unnatural ... detrimental and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization."
In response to an ensuing public uproar over the comments, Cameron told ABC News that he was being slandered by gay-rights advocates who misinterpreted his remarks as "hate speech" (as if they could be taken any other way). But for better or worse, Kirk Cameron has landed on the radar of people who care deeply about promoting gay marriage and advancing one of the key civil rights issues of our day. And news outlets caught on quickly, knowing Cameron can be counted on for an incendiary remark destined to land on Twitter's trending topics.
Cameron has said that he did not grow up in a religious home. By the age of 17, he was a teen heartthrob and the star of a hit sitcom making $50,000 per week. He was also an atheist, with hedonistic predilections that included fancy sports cars and exotic vacations. But it was a hollow existence, or so he has said in numerous interviews. Then an actor friend took him to see popular evangelist Chuck Swindoll, and everything changed.
"I couldn't get enough of the Bible," he told Today's Christian magazine in 2003. "I read about this amazing God who sees my thought life, who considers lust to be adultery, who considers hatred to be murder, who sees all the sins that I've committed that no one else knows about -- the secret arrogant attitudes."
Somewhere along the way, Cameron went from harmless born-again Christian to divisive cultural crusader. But while he seems legitimately clueless about why his outspoken antics illicit so much ire, he should get used to interviewers throwing loaded curveballs in his direction. News outlets just can't resist a good sound bite.