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Ellen DeGeneres is one of the most significant celebrities in modern television. She’s been very open about her life. On her show, she gives fans glimpses into everything from her marriage to her personal views.

DeGeneres occasionally jokes about God. This raises an interesting question: Does she believe in God? If so, how does she understand God?

Ellen DeGeneres with awards | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for The People’s Choice Awards

The evolution of Ellen DeGeneres’ spiritual views

DeGeneres was raised as a Christian Scientist. Christian Science is a Christian denomination started by Mary Baker Eddy. DeGeneres said she feels Christian Scientist teachings have some value, but believes in a God who is less “judgemental” than the God she was taught to believe in when she was younger.

Describing the evolution of her spiritual views, DeGeneres said “I was raised Christian Science, which is like ‘mind over matter.’ I think there is something to that. But I have a problem with a lot of the rules. I don’t believe the god that I believe in is judgmental.”

DeGeneres says she sees God everywhere and that God is the totality of our experiences. She said she views the trees outside her house as God. Though she doesn’t use the term to describe her ideas, DeGeneres’ beliefs could reasonably be described as “pantheism” – the idea that absolutely everything is God.

What does she think of heaven and hell?

Ellen DeGeneres in a red outfit | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Furthermore, DeGeneres seems to have a “live and let live” approach to spirituality. She doesn’t seem to believe in an afterlife. However, she acknowledges her spiritual beliefs could be dead wrong.

Elaborating on her views, DeGeneres opined “I think whatever works for you is right. Heaven or hell is what you create right this minute where you are. You have a choice to live in joy or not. And that’s my belief. If I’m wrong, then I’m wrong, but I’m not hurting anybody.”

The time Ellen DeGeneres almost played God

God played a role in one of DeGeneres’ early comedic monologues. In it, she imagines having a casual phone call with God. The skit seemingly paved a way for DeGeneres’ planned – and unmade – movie about God.

Ellen DeGeneres’ “Phone Call to God” skit

DeGeneres actually wanted to portray God in a film back in 2005. The film was going to be a remake of Oh God!, a 1970s screwball comedy starring George Burns. Around the same time, God was being portrayed as a character in comedy movies like Dogma and Bruce Almighty.

In the proposed remake, DeGeneres was going to play a God who is not omniscient. Playing off the biblical concept that people are made in God’s image, she wanted to play a very human God. DeGeneres hoped the film would make people ask questions about God. 

DeGeneres said the movie would be apolitical while reflecting her values. In response to concerns the film could offend people, DeGeneres said: “I also played a fish, and I wasn’t a fish.” Despite the planning that seems to have gone into it, this remake of Oh God! never got off the ground.

Also see: Justin Bieber Talks to Ellen DeGeneres About Marriage, Drugs, & Music