Dolly Parton Once Said She’d 'Be Just as Happy to Go to Heaven or Hell'

Dolly Parton’s spirituality plays a considerable role in her life and her music. She grew up in the church and shares her views in interviews and songs. Given this, it may seem surprising that she said she’d be happy to end up in heaven or hell. Here’s the reasoning behind this comment.

Dolly Parton says she’s more spiritual than religious

Parton grew up in the Smoky Mountains, in a primarily Pentecostal area. Her family was no different, as her grandfather, Reverend Jake Owens, led the congregation at a local church. Her grandfather encouraged music during services. This is where Parton and her siblings began performing songs.

As she grew older, however, Parton shifted from a focus on organized religion to a focus on spirituality. These days, she considers herself more spiritual than religious. She explained that she was familiar with both the “fire and brimstone” elements of religion, as well as the songs that she loved. She decided to define her faith on her terms. 

“I started to remember the things that really stuck in my mind, and I think that’s followed me through the years, things like ‘Through God, all things are possible,’” she told Interview Magazine. “I just remember the positive. I just thought, ‘I can’t deal with this s—. There cannot be a God that is that mean and cruel, and if there is then I’m too afraid to deal with Him anyway.’ So I had to decide who I was, and what God meant to me.”

She shared her thoughts on the afterlife

In her time as a musician, Parton has infused her songs with religious messages and imagery. She’s also released overtly spiritual music. Still, she affirms that it’s spirituality, not religion, that she thinks about.

“The kind of religion I grew up in, the Pentecostal holy rollers, that was exciting, because it was the music of prayer and I learned a lot from that,” she told the Independent. “I guess you always get more religious-minded as you mellow. But I don’t really think about it a lot.”

She also gave her opinion on the afterlife based on how she’s led her life.

“If I died today I’d be just as happy to go to heaven or hell as I would if I’d spent the rest of my life reading the Bible or praying, because I think God judges us with a tender heart… and if not, I should burn in hell!”

Dolly Parton thinks her actions speak for themselves

Parton has always promoted the belief that her actions speak louder than her words. She is notoriously tightlipped about her political leanings, choosing instead to behave with as much grace as possible. In the podcast Dolly Parton’s America, Parton wouldn’t call herself a feminist, though she believes she is one in practice.

“I think that’s a good way of saying it,” she said. “I live it. I work it. And I think there’s power in it for me.”

Parton also uses her songs to champion the causes she believes in.

“In my songwriting, I’ve never shied away from what is going on in the world,” she wrote in the book Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics. “I don’t voice issues publicly, myself. But in my songs, I can write about whatever I feel. That’s what I’m about.”

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