Interview on October 31, 2022, with Yitzel, who is studying mechanical engineering, outside yakʔitʸutʸu Hall at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
Do you consider yourself religious?
Yitzel: Yes. Catholic. God before everything, thanking Him every day when I wake up because if it weren’t for Him, I wouldn’t be here. He created life, He created me. He knew me before my parents knew me. He created me in His vision of perfect. For that, I am ever so grateful. Grateful for my parents for raising me religious. I honestly don’t know how I would have turned out if I hadn’t been raised the way I was. I’m so grateful that my roommates, as well, their vision is God before everything. I love going to church with them and just being able to feel like I belong somewhere. I don’t have to feel pressure, “Oh, you’re religious, you believe in God,” and this and that. It’s like, “Of course I do. He’s my Father.”
If an atheist asked what evidence you have for the existence of God, what would you say?
Yitzel: That’s a good question. I’ve never had someone ask me that. Honestly, there’s not much evidence, besides what the Bible says. The Bible is a book and I choose to believe that it’s real, not everyone has to, that’s perfectly fine. Solely based on the Bible, God created the earth in seven days, although I am a science person so I’ve had my fair share of, “Do I believe this, do I believe that?” But I choose to stick to my religion as closely as I can.
Do you believe in life after death?
Yitzel: Yes. Kind of. Before I got here, definitely. But now that I’m here, I’m just like, “What if there isn’t?” Definitely being here and talking to people with other beliefs has opened my perspective on things and I’m trying to be as open as possible and I’m trying to stick to believing there is life after death, and I hope there is.
Has this freshman year been a challenge, leaving your Catholic community at home?
Yitzel: It’s kind of difficult because there are a lot of evangelical Christians and they’re like, “Oh, you worship the Virgin Mary,” and this and that. “You worship saints.” We don’t worship them. We love them because Mary gave life to Jesus. That is His mother. He said, “Love my mother as I love her.” So we love His mother, but it’s not worshipping. Definitely seeing everyone’s different perspective on God is kind of weird at first, because I was never exposed to all of that, but it’s very interesting to see how everyone in their different religion somehow all connect because we all believe in God.
Do you agree with the Catholic Church’s teaching that abortion is always wrong?
Yitzel: No. I don’t agree with that. I am very pro-choice. I do not care what other women decide to do with their bodies. It is a fetus. It does not have life within those first few things, there’s no heart, there’s no beating. It’s not a baby. It’s a fetus. It’s a clump of cells. I probably would never get one, but to anyone who does get it, “Okay, it happened, it was your choice. It’s your body. You can choose whatever you want.” The SCOTUS decision was absolutely heart-wrenching. We have people deciding, to this day, what women can do with their bodies? It’s 2022. Come on. We should all respect each other and our own decisions. That’s something I will always kind of dislike about my religion: “Oh, you must get married through the Church.” If two people are happy and they don’t want to get married in the Church, why does that matter? “Abortions, they’re wrong.” Sometimes it’s like a miscarriage and they have to get it out. That is an abortion. They have to get an abortion to get the clump out. They’re not wrong. It is sad when people get abortions because their kid will have Down syndrome or something like that but, it happens. Some people can’t deal with it, emotionally, and that’s okay.
How did you develop your views that differ from your Catholic upbringing?
Yitzel: Most of my high school was Catholic but the more me and my friends talked about these issues, it was like, “Well that’s not right.” And as more we learned, like when a baby is actually alive and is actually a baby, then it’s like, “How is it life if it’s still not alive?” My friends and I were like, “We didn’t learn about it in our health class, let’s do some research.” We started looking at other perspectives and that’s what started getting me away from all that. Being here, the only thing that’s changed is that I don’t go to church. That’s basically it.