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AFTER hitting rock bottom with a devastating emotional collapse, Britney Spears has become a born again Christian -- thanks to an emergency intervention by her family.
The startling about-face in the pop star's life came after her family took her 55-hour marriage disaster as a "wake-up call" and confronted Britney to stop her from spinning wildly out of control, say sources.
With her dad hugging her tightly and tears streaming down her cheeks, the 22-year-old pop princess walked down the aisle at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, Calif., on February 1 and rededicated herself to Christ in front of the Faithful Central Bible Church's largely black congregation.
Her surprising appearance at the service climaxed the tremendous upheaval that followed her spur-of-the-moment wedding to a childhood friend.
"Following the worldwide press her marriage received, Britney suffered an emotional collapse," revealed a source close to the family. "With her father's guidance, Britney knew she had reached a spiritual low -- and that God was the only answer.
"She realized she had to go back to the Christian church in order to get her life together."
While the hard-partying performer's sudden change is surprising, friends insist it's a sincere return to her roots when she sang in the choir at Kentwood's First Baptist Church, attended services regularly, and even performed a Christian hymn when trying out for her big TV break.
After her surprise wedding chapel marriage to old pal Jason Alexander on January 3, her schoolteacher mom Lynne rushed to Las Vegas and arranged an annulment and her father Jamie, a devout Baptist, set up the family intervention, which included her 26-year-old brother Bryan.
"They told Britney that they loved her very much but they couldn't stand idly by and watch her destroy her life and her career," the close source told The ENQUIRER.
"Her family told her that she needed to get her feet back on the ground and return to traditional values . . . and that included Christianity."
Britney took their sober sentiments to heart and agreed to attend the Faithful Central Bible Church's two-hour service on February 1 -- and stand with her father to rededicate herself to Christ. In an exclusive interview, an eyewitness to the stirring ceremony told The ENQUIRER:
"Britney arrived with her father, who had his arm around her. She seemed very focused, and her eyes were teary.
"Britney was weeping during most of the service, and her father comforted her by hugging her, or leaning over and kissing her cheek."
Dressed conservatively in a mid-calf burgundy dress and a long-sleeve sweater, the mega pop star rocked back and forth to the music and dabbed her eyes as the choir sang the same hymns she'd grown up loving.
When the pastor, Bishop Kenneth Ulmer, invited everyone who wished to recommit their lives to Jesus Christ to come forward, Britney, her eyes tearing, walked down the aisle with her father.
As the pastor summoned more people forward, Britney leaned on her father's shoulder at the front of the congregation. Her dad hugged her and softly whispered in her ear. Near the end of the ceremony, the pastor tapped Britney on the head -- signifying she had found Jesus.
After the service, Britney and her dad shook the pastor's hand before leaving.
Deeply moved, Britney returned to the service the following week. Friends note that while the singer is sincere, her rebellious streak has not completely vanished. Shortly after being born again, she bought a gag belt emblazoned with the obscenity "(Bleep) You."
But Britney has also been spotted wearing a crucifix and reading a book of spiritual guidance, "Conversations with God."
Concluded an insider: "She'd like to regain some of her innocence and is hoping to find it in the power of prayer." -- MICHAEL GLYNN, ROBIN MIZRAHI, PATRICIA SHIPP and ELLEN GOODSTEIN