Mark Wahlberg Catholic App Ads Confuse Fans and Resurface 'Racist' Past

Mark Wahlberg is popping up on people's social media feeds with ads for a catholic prayer app, but people are using it as a reason to bring up his troubled past.

People are posting screenshots of Wahlberg appearing in video advertisements for the "Catholic meditation, prayer and sleep" app, Hallow. While some react to Wahlberg's link to the app promoting religion, it has led many to bring up incidents from his troubled past.

The paid app Hallow has been in existence since 2018, and Wahlberg, whose latest movie Father Stu is out now, started to appear in ads for the brand since April 2022. His collaboration with the app was part of a promotion for the movie, as he released a series of prayers on the app.

Twitter user @metaltxt gained over 10,000 likes for sharing a screenshot of Wahlberg in a Hallow add and asking, "lmao how the f*** is this real?" In the screenshot, the subtitles suggest Wahlberg is saying "Let's do the Rosary together and stay prayed up."

Rock band The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die (TWIABP) also joked about the ads on Twitter. I just got this ad, and I can't get over Mark Wahlberg saying to "stay prayed up." Marky Mark and the Rosary Bunch," they joked.

"Mark Wahlberg once said in an interview he was terrified God would send him to hell for making "Boogie Nights" which is weird because if anything God is gonna send him to hell for beating a Vietnamese man nearly to death," wrote @jamesmurtagh on Twitter in response to a Hallow app ad.

The user is referring to an incident Wahlberg has spoken about in the past. At the age of 16 in April 1988, Wahlberg assaulted a Vietnamese-American man on the street, knocking him out with a wooden stick while shouting obscenities at him. He attacked another Vietnamese-American man, Johnny Trinh, later that day.

In 2016 Wahlberg requested a pardon for the crime, stating he has met with Trinh and apologized for his "horrific acts." Trinh also released a public statement forgiving Wahlberg.

Court documents show that as a teenager Wahlberg and friends also provoked black children, yelling abuse and throwing rocks at them.

As Wahlberg was trending on social media, @genghisbruh brought up Wahlberg's past in a series of tweets discussing violence against the Asian community in the U.S.

"Wahlberg committed many racist hate crimes that his privilege swept under the rug. A Black woman who Wahlberg threw rocks at and called the n-word did not forgive him and said "It was a hate crime and that's exactly what should be on his record forever," he wrote, while sharing a related Washington Post article.

Many other social media users drew specific parallels between Wahlberg's prayer app Hallow, and his past crimes.

"If you're Vietnamese the app pings your location for Mark," @philisit wrote in a morbid joke. "Can't wait for the one where he coaches you through committing hate crimes drops," @andrewjaye said.

Other social media users across TikTok and Reddit have offered up explainers and opinions on Wahlberg's past behavior. Collectively these videos have millions of likes and views.

The Hallow app also features collaborations with former NFL player Brett Favre and actor Jim Caviezel.

Newsweek has reached out to Wahlberg for further comment.

Mark Wahlberg and the Hallow app
Mark Wahlberg collaborates with the Catholic app Hallow, appearing in advertisements and reading prayers available on the app. He started his collaboration as part of a promotion for his movie "Father Stu." Theo Wargo/Getty Images / hallow.com