Miley Cyrus' Small Bible-Belt Hometown: "The devil has got to her"


Miley Cyrus has been branded the ‘devil’ and ‘disgusting’ in the small bible-belt American town she grew up in.

The 21-year-old former Disney star has never been more popular, topping the charts all over the world.

However when MailOnline visited her hometown of Franklin, Tennessee, this week the mood was far from celebratory.

In fact most are shocked by her antics with one fellow parishioner at Miley’s family church going as far to say she fears she’s been possessed by the devil.

Judy Reynolds, 64, a volunteer secretary at Franklin's People’s Church told MailOnline: 'It appears that way, that the devil has got to her. Her actions on stage show me that she's lost her way.

'It's sad, very sad because she's apparently bought the message of the world... sex and drugs and that's the wrong message. She's not following a life that is being directed by God, she is not seeking God in her life. The bible tells us that it is very clear the devil is here to seek and destroy.

'Drugs destroy people. Anything in your life, be it sexual immorality or drugs that are not good for you… it can be the way of the devil.

'People are worried and we are praying for her.'

Judy has been attending the evangelical Southern Baptist People's Church for more than 30 years and is a pal of the pastor Rick White who baptized Miley there in 2005 when she was aged 13.

Grandmother-of-four Judy remembers Miley as a sweet young girl who attended children’s camps at the church.

She said: 'Miley is clearly giving the wrong message right now. One of the ladies in my Sunday school class taught Miley in church camp when she was elementary school age and she said to me "we need to pray for her". We’re just sad because we would not want our own kids to do some of the things she has done.'

Asked what had been most offensive to the parishioners, Judy cited Miley’s X-rated twerking and foam-finger dance with Robin Thicke at the VMA Awards in August.

She said: 'Her appearance on the award show (the VMAs), I didn't see it I just saw it on the news afterwards. My reaction was horror, if it was my own children or grandchildren I would be mortified and I'm sure her parents are experiencing some of the same at the moment.

'It was the dress, the performance all of the above. She’s not listening to the Lord – that’s pretty apparent and it’s sad to see her not portraying the values she came from.

'My little granddaughter liked Hannah Montana when she was small, then when she started turning her parents were like "oh dear, we do not need her as a role model anymore".

'She has a good voice, it's just disappointing because there's so many other ways.'

Despite Judy's fears, Miley still claims God is an important influence in her life.

In a new interview with Cosmopolitan this week, Miley told how 'this is the best time of my life', adding God helped her get over her break-up with fiance Liam Hemsworth.

She said: 'I'm not going to look back on it and be like, "I wish I hadn't been dwelling over a breakup," you know? Because that's not what God wants my life to be about right now. God wants my life to be about being successful and being happy and blessing other people being blessed.'

However at Miley's church they are finding it difficult to recognize the angelic choir girl that once attended there.

Another elderly lady who attends the church, but declined to be named, said: 'I've gone to church here for 32 years, she was here in Sunday school just a little before she was in Disney, she was just a little one running around, she sang in the children’s choir. We have her in our prayer list at the moment.'

Pastor White declined to be interviewed when asked by MailOnline.

Although Miley and her family mostly live in LA now, Billy Ray still owns the huge 500-acre farm in Franklin and the family spend time there when they can. Locals speak warmly of the country music icon, that famously sang Achy Breaky Heart, but a neighbor close to the sprawling farm told MailOnline that Miley’s behavior was ruining their reputation.

Miley5 Miley6

She said: 'When she was younger my grandchild would watch her TV show (Hannah Montana) and I thought she was really cute, now I think everybody living here is kind of disgusted by her. She's not someone I would want my grandchildren to idolize anymore. She has fallen in the eyes of people round here. She just seems to be not real grounded.'

Miley’s pre-school teacher Kim Cotton agreed that the star’s values are now totally out of sync with sleepy Franklin, which has a population of 66,000.

Kim, 49, who taught Miley at Fourth Avenue Church of Christ pre-school in Franklin back in 1996, said: 'Franklin has a southern Christian atmosphere, you know conservative with white picket fences and all that.


'Quite frankly when Miley decided to get on that wrecking ball I don’t think she was going "oh I shouldn't do that because it’s going to hurt Franklin, Tennessee". I think that was probably the furthest from her mind.'

Recalling the three-year-old Miley, Kim, whose daughter Kelsey was later on the same cheerleading team as the star, said: 'She was sweet as can be, smiled all the time, in fact I think that’s how she got her name, they started calling her that, "Smiley Miley". She was very outgoing and just a good girl.'

Asked about Miley’s current behavior, Kim said: 'You just don’t know how people handle things. I’m concerned and hope that she doesn’t wander off the beaten path but I think she will find her way eventually, she’s just experimenting with some things.

'I think at this point she’s just trying to find herself, she’s a young adult. She’s got so many things surrounding her that a lot of young girls her age don’t have to deal with.

'She’s making her own way and it can’t be easy, it’s gotta be hard.

'It’s (her controversy) really bumped her so you can’t fault her for that I suppose.

'Really I would consider them (the Cyrus family) more as Californian’s now, I mean they moved to California when she was doing Hannah Montana.'

Lydia Norman, 55, who also worked at Fourth Avenue when Miley attended, was less generous about their former pupil, she said: 'The mainstream values of most of the people in Franklin are different from what you see about her right now in the news.


'It's much more conservative here, Christian churchgoers, strong family values… a lot of people move here to raise their children to protect them from things they don't want their families exposed to.

'I think she’s left us far behind. But I think all young people have to find their own way.

'I'm very thankful my daughter does not have the same value as she does.

'They are not the values I would want my daughter to have, but that's her choice.'

Asked what her advice to Miley would be now, Lydia added: 'One thing I say to my kids is remember who you are and where you come from. If you were raised on good values and your faith then remember that and come back to it to go down the right path.'

And it's not just the older people in town who are angry at Miley.

Charity Henry, 24, who works in a local Starbucks, was equally indignant.

She said: 'My husband has little sisters who watched her show and it was a healthy life-giving show that had good morals.

'She had a lot of young people looking up to her but now she’s gone off the deep end. She’s loose with her values and I think it’s mostly sad for her and reflects badly on her. She claimed to be a believer in Jesus so it’s sad to see her caught up with bad things in the world. I think she has got caught up in Hollywood and in the fame she’s looking to find life in places you can’t find life... she's been led astray.

'She doesn’t even know what she’s doing, she’s just looking in all the wrong places and we just want her to find the truth and the right way. You will find yourself when you’re walking with the Lord.”

Miley Childhood Pal Defends Star

While sleepy Franklin appears to have turned against its former golden girl – Miley's childhood cheerleading pal spoke out to defend her.

Madi Wells, who was on the local Premiere Tennessee All-Stars Cheerleading team with Miley from aged five to 13, thinks her old friend is brave for turning her back on Franklin’s stifling conservatism.

She said: 'I think she’s brave for doing it. She went for it and it’s working for her. She’s so big now and I feel proud of her. I think she’s doing great.

'It is raising eyebrows around here it really is, it’s a small town.

'I just hope the people that did know her know she has a good head on her shoulders and she’s fine, she’s having fun and she’s just getting her face out there.

'She had to break out sometime from Disney and she just broke out really big. People who didn’t know her, know her now.'

Madi, 19, isn't worried about her old friend's ability to handle fame.


She said: 'I know that her and Liam just broke up and stuff and that’s hard but I don’t worry the way she's acting is a mental thing. I know her mum and her mum would just be "snap out of it" if it was.

'I think she’s in control and she’s pretty smart.'

Asked about Miley’s naked Wrecking Ball video, Madi said: 'She’s definitely brave for doing it. I wouldn’t do that, but she pulled it off and she doesn’t show her lady parts in it… She looks great.'

Miley never drank, smoked or took drugs when Madi knew her and she blames the excesses of stardom for her friend’s recent change in behavior.

She said: 'No I never knew her to do that, not at all. But she’s in LA and LA is ridiculous for that kind of stuff. A lot of famous people do that
'But the kind of stuff she’s doing is what any normal 20-year-old does, the older people don’t realize how many young people do ecstasy or smoke weed, even if you don’t do it yourself you know someone who does.'


Madi is also an admirer of Miley’s twerking ability, she said: 'Miley twerks pretty good. She never did it as a kid but she was always a good dancer…

'When we were cheerleading she wasn’t scared to get sweaty and dirty.

'People definitely overreacted, regular people act like that all the time in nightclubs.

'She was just being a regular person but since she’s so big when people find something to bash her with, they’re going to bash her.'

However Madi thinks her old pal should ditch her new habit of sticking out her tongue all the time.

She said: 'I think the tongue thing is just a phase… that’s kind of new, she never did that when we were younger. I think she’ll grow out of it.'

Madi and Miley’s 20-strong cheerleading team would travel out of state each weekend to competitions and won several trophies.

Miley left at 13 to concentrate on Hannah Montana, regularly doing sell-out concert tours alongside acting in the show.

Showing off never-before-seen pictures of them together as youngsters while describing what Miley was like growing up, Madi said: 'Oh my gosh, she’s always had the biggest attitude, she used to be so sassy all the time, that’s what we loved about her.

'She would crack jokes, she was sarcastic, she was a fun person to be around. She’s literally always been like that, she always had that expression she has in the pictures.'

The girls would have sleepovers together while listening to the Spice Girls and eating beanie weenies (an American dish of baked beans and sausages) and ice cream.

Madi said: 'We would eat ice cream and dance around. She was just fun, she liked to dance around the room.

'We liked Disney Channel, she was pumped when she made it there.'

Madi, who is studying to be a nurse, is delighted by Miley's success and thinks she’s destined for greatness.

She said: 'They should leave Miley alone and let her be herself, she’s talented and it’s working for her, don’t be a hater.

'She’s telling kids they can express however they want to express and she’s literally saying "I don’t care about what people think about me".

'People change, they grow up, they figure out themselves. I definitely support it, good for her.

'I think she’s come a long way and I think she’ll go on to be one of the biggest singers in the world.'