Gen Z fav Billie Eilish opened up about her beliefs on her new podcast me & dad radio. The podcast is just six episodes long and features Eilish and father Patrick O'Connell discussing the music that’s impacted them both.
“I was super religious”
In episode 4, “from the start,” a discussion about one of Eilish’s favorite childhood songs, “If God was one of us,” led her to reminisce about her deep interest in faith as a kid. "I don't know if any of you know—I don't think I've ever talked about it. When I was little, when I was a little kid, I was super religious for no d*** reason," she said.
The interesting twist here is that no one in her life belonged to any faith. No parent, friend, family member, no one—her sudden interest in religion seemed to come out of thin air. “For some reason as a little girl, I just was incredibly religious.”
One day, she suddenly lost that faith: “I don’t know what happened, it just completely went away.” Now, she looks back on that time of life as a little bit strange, but incredibly impactful in how she empathizes with others’ beliefs today.
A call to open-mindedness
For Eilish, her experience with faith brought her to a place of curiosity and empathy for those with differing beliefs.
I love hearing people’s beliefs. I love talking about what people believe in, and hearing why they believe in it, and what makes them believe in it—especially if I don’t agree, you know? Because I like to listen, and I like to understand, and I think it’s really important to be supportive of all beliefs in the world, and all opinions, and not shoot people down for what they believe in.
For many members of Gen Z, her words will sound like the best possible approach to religious diversity. But for some of us, the promotion of this sort of “open-mindedness” may feel like an attack against the truth of what we believe in as Christians, an attack against the power of Jesus and His Word. But Gen Z’s culture encourages inclusion and punishes intolerance. Being “supportive of all beliefs” can feel like a way to be a good person; in many ways, they are starting from a completely different framework than some of the older generations did.
Though we do not endorse everything Billie Eilish says, it’s of course a good idea to listen to others and try to understand their point of view, even when it contradicts entirely with what we think. We’re actually more free to express our beliefs when we take a posture of empathy with others, because both sides are given the ability to connect in relationship with one another. Without an open mind to listen and try to understand a different viewpoint, there is no space to share even the gospel.
Why is this important to talk to my teen about?
Public figures like Billie Eilish are the modern-day philosophers influencing our kids’ worldviews. As parents and caring adults, we need to really understand what these influencers are saying and help our kids to work through those messages, to engage in conversation to find truth.
This may feel like a scary topic because Eilish didn’t ultimately come back to faith, she completely walked away. You may have worries like these: Could my kid do the same thing? Will they follow Billie Eilish and walk away from faith too? Will the “empathy” of this generation keep my kids from becoming confident about the truth?
But here’s the truth of the matter: as Craig Gross once said in an interview with us, “Your kids will talk to you about what you talk to them about. Your kids won’t talk to you about what you don’t talk to them about.” When it comes to tough issues like religion, LGBTQ+, racism, doubting, and more, the only way we can connect with our teens—especially when we disagree—is to meet them where they’re at. One parent shared this story with us about the power of connection:
In order for my daughter to get her driver’s license, we had to drive for 50 hours together. I have to admit that I was dreading that time—50 hours in a car with a student driver wasn’t my idea of fun. But a friend at Axis encouraged me to redeem the time, to make the most of it and start a conversation that we could continue for years.
My daughter, despite growing up in a Christian home, self-identified as an atheist, which was a struggle for me. But over the 50 days and 50 hours that we drove together, we were able to talk about meaningful stuff that really transformed our relationship and her view of God. By the time the 50 days were up she told me, “I believe that there is a God, I just don’t know if he cares about me.”
I was thrilled because who among us as believers has not said those very words! In the weeks and months after, my daughter decided to attend a Christian college and took a Bible class her freshman year that she loved. When she returns to campus this year she is going to be a teaching assistant in that very same class.
So from being an atheist to a Bible student in less than two years feels like a huge win! And I credit it to that conversation where I was challenged to redeem the time. Of course, there is more to the story, but I owe so much to Axis for helping me to get the conversations started!
A bridge between the known and the unknown
“I love the idea that there’s a God so, you know, why not? How would I know?” Eilish concludes, “Nobody knows.”
It’s tough not to feel sad at these words, but in truth, these are questions people have been asking for as long as there have been people. How can we know what truth really is? Who knows who God is? Who could dare to assume they comprehend the depths and lengths of the God of the universe? But when discussing this with our teens, we can encourage them in knowing that we’ve been given the gift of the Bible. God lovingly handed us a book that contains a glimpse into His heart, into His mission, and our purpose here on earth. So while we may never know the true vastness of our God, we do know enough of His heart to see how much we’re loved by Him.
Talk about it
With so many thoughts and opinions fighting for our teens’ attention, the world can feel like a pretty confusing place. Let’s sort through those perspectives with our kids (and be ready to disagree). Here are a few ways to start the conversation today.
- Does it surprise you that Billie Eilish considered herself “super religious” as a child? Why or why not?
- Do you think it’s important to have an open mind?
- What’s the balance between open-mindedness and confidence in one’s beliefs?
- Do you have friends with beliefs different from your own? Have you ever started a conversation with them about their beliefs?
- How can we embrace a posture of empathy with others without discarding our own beliefs?
- Have you ever felt shot down for your beliefs? How did you respond?