Chet Hanks, the son of celebrities Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, had a tumultuous childhood growing up as the child of two Hollywood stars. In a candid interview, Chet revealed the intense moment he felt “touched by God” and left atheism behind.
Actor and musician Chester Hanks, better known as Chet, described his conversion from atheism after being touched by the hand of God. Hanks, who has starred in recurring roles on TV shows such as Empire, made an appearance on the IMPAULSIVE Clips podcast, where he opened up about a time when his famous parents sent him away to a wilderness camp because of his bad behavior.
Chet, who was 17 years old when his parents sent him away, revealed at the time he was an atheist and was at a point in his life where he was very angry and very resentful before he went to the behavioral camp. One morning, the counselors woke him up and took him on a hike, and what he saw on that hike changed his life.
“I went off and sat on the edge of this cliff and was just looking out at the view,” Chet said. “As I was looking out at that view and I was looking at where I had been from an elevated perspective — because I’d been stuck in this desert for 12 weeks and it just looked ugly and boring, and there’s nothing to look at. But now I’m looking at it from an elevated perspective of the top of this mountain.”
The new perspective started to creep into his heart. “So I’m looking around, and I’m so overcome by emotion,” he shared. “It felt like I was touched by the hand of God. It was at that moment God revealed Himself to me,” he said. “All that anger, and that hate, and that resentment flipped. It inverted to just infinite hope, gratitude, peace, love.”
Chet began to weep. “It just flipped on a dime, like that,” he revealed. “And I was so overcome by emotion, I just sat at the edge of that cliff and I wept. I wept for an hour, uncontrollable weeping for like an hour. It did not cease, but tears of joy. Tears of everything, feeling every emotion at once, all the pain and all the joy.”
Chet said that the drugs he had tried up until that point didn’t even come close to the way God made him feel. “Any experience I’ve had on psychedelics doesn’t even come close to this,” he said. “That was the birth of my spiritual life. I knew there is something else out there, OK? There is a higher power, there is higher intelligence because it felt like it had just tapped me on the shoulder.”
The video interview ends there, but the Hanks family has been open about how faith has impacted their lives. “God is a part of our life,” Rita Wilson said. “Every single day, I prayed to God for I don’t know how many years that he would bring me somebody that I loved, that loved me in the same way, and he brought me Tom, so I believe in that.”
Tom Hanks’ childhood was a mixed bag when it comes to religion. The elder Hanks was exposed to different religions as his parents divorced and remarried, each with their own religious views. Tom identified with everything from Mormonism, to Catholicism and Evangelicalism. However, when he married Rita Wilson, he decided to embrace her lifelong Greek Orthodox faith.
“My parents divorced so often that I’ve seen a lot of different sort of religions down the line,” Tom told Parade Magazine. “My wife is Greek Orthodox and I’ve been converted. My kids have been baptized in the same font in which she was baptized at our cathedral in town. But I still believe in being able to leave the heavens to those who want to interpret the heavens as they see fit.”
According to reports, when Chet was battling his substance abuse and sent to the wilderness camp, Rita was battling breast cancer. In spite of everything they were going through, the couple leaned on prayer and faith to provide them the strength and hope that saw them through. While their faith has been put to the test, they still trusted that God would see them through their darkest valley, and He did.