California Catholic Daily reporter, Mary Rose, visits a California college each week and asks students about God, good, and evil. Interview with Thalia, who is studying nursing, outside Goleman Library at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton on March 11, 2020.

Do you consider yourself religious?

Thalia: No. I don’t like religion. I’m spiritual, but I’m not religious. I don’t follow a religion. I believe in God and I pray, but I don’t believe in the way they have, because their belief system is not the way I would believe it. My parents already questioned it slightly because my mom’s like, “your kid’s not going to turn into a donkey if you don’t baptize them.” And I’m like, “yeah, they believe that.” Because a lot of people still believe that you need to bless your child because they are born of sin. And so I’m like, “no, I don’t believe in that.” And so I just have my own belief system. I pick apart what I believe in. 

How do you decide what’s true?

Thalia: I think it’s kind of just based on my morals, but I’m not sure. I don’t really know. I just kind of go with it. 

Where do your morals come from?

Thalia: My parents. Some of them come from my parents or what I’ve seen, because then you see things on the news, and you’re like, “that’s not morally right.” Or you feel indifferent towards it, but you don’t understand why, but then you find out that for your morals that that’s not right. It goes with the flow for me. If I see something and I feel like it’s wrong, then that becomes part of my morals going forward. As you can tell, I’m really a go with the flow person.

Do your morals depend on what other people think?

Thalia: Not really, because I find that sometimes my morals don’t match society and I’m like, “Oh no.” Or my friends differ from my own opinions. So I always try to assert my opinions, but I’m like, “they’re not going to go with it.”

Why do you wear a crucifix?

Thalia: It’s part of how I connect with God. A lot of people see my crucifix and think of a certain religion and put that on me and ask me. I was once on a bus and they were like, “Oh, so you’re Catholic.” And I was like, “what?” And the whole time he just dug at me and kept saying things to me. And I’m like, “I don’t even know what you’re talking about. I’m not Catholic.” It’s really just like a journey that you take, it’s just something that represents something for me and connects me with something that is higher than me. And so I try my best to connect with him.

You were raised Catholic?

Thalia: Yeah, but they weren’t very strongly Catholic. They never forced us, but it was kind of just always there. When I was younger I questioned it because I was in a dark place. I was like, “why would He be allowing me to have this to happen?” But it’s kind of just finding your own personal connection to Him. And why.

If someone asked you who Jesus is, what would you say?

Thalia: I would say the son of God, because that’s a lot of the teachings that there are. I don’t know. I feel like people get mixed up sometimes because “our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” but they also call God their Lord. So it’s like, what’s going on? I’m confused now.

If someone asked you why you believe in God, what would you say?

Thalia: There’s things that happened in my life that showed that Someone was there. Something led me there. I believe there’s a higher power and it doesn’t have to be God. That’s another thing that my parents don’t like is that I love religion. I love it. I’m not going to practice because I can’t conform to one, but I have researched a lot of religions. I’m just open to it.

What are some of the moral teachings of the Catholic Church that you feel like you can’t conform to?

Thalia: Divorce. If somebody doesn’t want to be with somebody, then that should be their choice. Or a lot of people say you go to hell if you commit suicide. And for me, I’ve had a couple close people commit suicide. So I’m like, “why would you wish that upon somebody?” Because l when I attempted suicide, before that I talked to them about my friend passing away and they’re like, “that’s cowardice, that’s selfish, no one should ever do that. That’s horrible.” I just sat there and listened and I’m like, “okay, that’s nice to know that’s how you think.” That’s some of the morals that I don’t appreciate.

Do you believe in an afterlife?

Thalia: Yeah, I believe in reincarnation. After my grandma died, which was a long time ago – she loved hummingbirds. There’d be times I would be walking home and – hummingbirds don’t really like people and I’ve never been close with nature either. So I was walking home and I wasn’t feeling good that day. I was not happy at all. And all of a sudden, a hummingbird just came next to me, near my shoulder and just kind of flew next to me the whole time I was walking home. It’s either just like, you want to believe it’s them. Or for me, it’s just hope that one day you do reincarnate and you’re there for your loved ones. It’s just a lot of hope that goes on with religion or like spirituality because you hope for that to happen. You hope that by following a religion, you’ll get to a good afterlife. People follow religion because they think by following it, you go to heaven. 

If you enjoyed this story, consider making a donation to support Mary Rose and the Inquiring Minds column, so that we can continue to provide this insight into the religious beliefs of California college students. You can do so by visiting our Donation Page.