California Catholic Daily reporter, Mary Rose, visits a California college each week and asks students about God, good, and evil. Interviews with Rayanna, who is pursuing justice studies, near Sweeney Hall, and with Irene, who is studying early childhood development, outside Clark Hall at San Jose State University on October 22, 2019.


Do you consider yourself religious?

Rayanna: No. When I was a kid, I was raised in a Catholic home. A lot of bad things started happening and nothing was really getting better and I just stopped believing. My family still tries to force me to go to church a lot. I’ll go to make them happy but I don’t really actually pray or anything. When I was really young, my Grandpa died. I was like, “I was praying for him to get better.” So that was part of it. I got bullied for a lot of things in middle school and I kept praying and praying “Please, help make it stop.” And it didn’t. And then just a lot of bad things kept happening and I was like, “This isn’t working anymore. I’ve been super faithful and nothing is working so I don’t really know how to continue being faithful in this.” I know the whole “God isn’t a genie,” but, as a kid, you think God’s this magical thing. But, yeah, that’s why I stopped believing.

How do you think the world came to be?

Rayanna: Science, the Big Bang and all that. I haven’t really like looked into it. I don’t care.

Do you believe in an afterlife?

Rayanna: No.

Do you have a moral code?

Rayanna: I just kind of go by whatever I believe. I guess it still comes from religion because it’s the general right and wrong like my parents taught. Because I had that Catholic upbringing, I still have the whole “be nice to your neighbor and they’ll be nice back” kind of thing. But it’s just very basic. I don’t agree with a lot of the toxic Catholicism things like the whole “abortion is wrong, gays are evil” kind of thing. I don’t believe in that, just basic human kindness. I suppose: what’s fair.

How do you decide which aspects of Catholicism are toxic?

Rayanna: I personally am bisexual and I grew up in a Catholic school so I was bullied around that a lot. I didn’t even know it at the time, it was just kind of like, “Oh, I think girls are pretty.” No one really understood that and everyone thought it was wrong. And then when I came out to my parents it was a whole mess. It was just like, “How could you not love us like this?” And, “It’s not your fault, it’s not my fault, I can’t choose.” So imagine being a little kid and liking boys and then your parents are telling you that homosexuality is wrong and they’re all going to hell and it creates mental health issues that I think could be avoided if Catholicism wasn’t so close-minded to those kinds of issues. 

In what ways do you think Catholics are close-minded?

Rayanna: I think things like abortion, premarital sex, some of those things are human needs. Or the need for intoxication. There’s a lot of books that say intoxication is another basic human need. A lot of Catholic people are very like, “drinking is bad,” but I think it’s kind of natural to be seeking out those kinds of things. As for premarital sex, I don’t see how it matters. My family is very close-minded, but it never clicked for me why it mattered so much, saving yourself. Abortion, I think we should have the choice if it’s needed. If you’re not in a financial position, or emotional or physical condition, I think you should be able to have it. Things like that. A lot of politics kinds of things.


Do you consider yourself religious?

Irene: No.

How do you think the world came to be?

Irene: There’s different stories like God created Adam and Eve or we all started from monkeys or whatever. I have questions about it, but if people ask me, I would never say, “Oh, this is the right answer.” I don’t have proof.

Do you ever wonder if there’s a God?

Irene: Yeah.

How do you decide what’s right and what’s wrong?

Irene: Just how I was raised based on what my mom said to me. What I’ve seen growing up, you have to go to school, you have to do this. I see people who are under drugs and stuff and I’m like, “I don’t want that for myself.” It’s basically my own preferences.

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