California Catholic Daily reporter, Mary Rose, visits a California college each week and asks students about God, good, and evil. Interview with Valentina, who is studying nutrition to be a yoga instructor, outside the Campus Center East at Chaffey College on January 15, 2020.
Do you consider yourself religious?
Valentina: Not really. I have been. My parents are very religious, they’re Christian, Catholic, they kind of did both, they were Mormon at one point. I think I just had a bad connotation because they forced me into it and I had other views in terms of being gay and all that. They just didn’t like it. Then I associated religion with being not as liberating as I wanted to be. The church I went to was really crooked. I remember one time after Mass at St. Mary’s in Fontana, they showed a video of a lady stealing the collections. I was like, “Why would they show this after church? This is bogus, I’m never coming to church ever again.” I was like thirteen, and seeing that, I was like, “Why am I here?” And then my parents were forcing me to come so it wasn’t really my choice and I think that’s what backfired on them. So now it makes we not want to go. I liked the messages. It was mostly about forgiveness and life lessons. I can’t really remember it all but there’s always a bad connotation with churches especially because of the abortion laws that a lot of the youngsters don’t agree with or the gay thing. Those are just two things that some religions touch upon but other than that, it was mostly good, like things that I learned in yoga, which I like.
Do you believe in a higher power?
Valentina: I do. I’m trying to find a religion where I feel comfortable. So I’m not entirely not religious, I’m trying to find a religion where I feel like myself and I can express that love for God.
Do you believe God has revealed Himself to us?
Valentina: Himself or themself, yes, I think so because I do yoga a lot and I meditate. In my head I sit down and I pray and I thank God for whatever has been given to me and I think that’s pretty religious, right? I just don’t think of myself as belonging to any association.
How did your parents switch from being Mormon to Christian?
Valentina: We moved away and we just stopped going to that church, but we still wanted to go to church so we just went to one that was local and we really liked it and it was a Catholic one. Then we moved again and we had to stop going to that church and we pretty much just went to the church that was close to us. It wasn’t really, “Oh, we don’t want to be Catholics anymore, we don’t want to be Christian anymore.” It was just what was more available to us.
How would you explain your disagreement with your parents’ views on abortion and gay marriage?
Valentina: I wouldn’t say if it’s right or wrong, I think it just depends on the person. I think it’s just up to the individual to do what they feel is right and agree to disagree. But I know that something like abortion is kind of different because there are lives at stake. But everybody’s situation is different and if abortion became illegal, they’re just going to do it themselves and more lives are going to be lost.
Do you think abortion ends the life of a human being?
Valentina: I’m going to tell you something very personal, but I was in a relationship with somebody who was way older than me and it was my fault, I was very naïve, I was sixteen, and he was older than me. He raped me. I had no choice but to abort it. If I had kept the baby, I wouldn’t be here right now. He’s in prison right now. I would have raised it by myself and I just couldn’t have it. That’s why I can’t judge other people for being pro-choice. I know there’s different reasons, but it’s up to them. It’s not really up to me to decide. It’s up to them.
Do you think a lot of women regret their abortions?
Valentina: I know that it definitely takes a toll on them emotionally. I have a friend who had one also, and hers were for different reasons. She was going to have twins and she couldn’t have twins and she had to get an abortion. She was very emotionally distraught by it. But it’s just like, you’re not going to be completely happy. It’s a very tough decision, so I wasn’t in her shoes at that point, but I know what it felt like. I know that my quality of life improved after it because I can only imagine what my life would be like if I had had the baby. It’s really complicated. I’m not entirely pro-choice. It’s just like, for me, I have to be, because I made that decision and I don’t know what other people are going through so I can’t decide that for anybody else, to be like, “Oh no, you can’t have that,” because I don’t know what they’re going through.
Do you believe in an afterlife?
Valentina: I don’t know. I’ve been thinking about that a lot and I don’t know. I really don’t. I know there’s a lot of people saying, “Oh, I probably met you in the past life,” and that’s something completely different. I’m still trying to figure that out.
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