Dolly Parton Says She’s ‘Not That Religious, but Very, Very Spiritual’

Dolly Parton‘s music is littered with gospel themes. She’s one of the few artists who’s had gospel singles become major hits. But, according to the Queen of Country, though she is a highly spiritual person, she’s “not that religious.”

Dolly Parton performs onstage during MusiCares Person of the Year honoring Dolly Parton at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Dolly Parton | Michael Kovac/Getty Images for NARAS

On religion and spirituality

“I’m not that religious, but I’m very, very spiritual,” she wrote in her 2020 book, Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics. “I grew up in very religious surroundings. I grew up with a Bible background, and I’m glad I did. I know my Bible stories, like the ones I mention in [‘The Master’s Hand’].”

Parton is glad that, throughout her life, she’s “been exposed to other people’s beliefs.”

“I ‘get’ all of it,” she wrote. “And I don’t condemn the sincerity of anybody’s faith.”

Dolly Parton talks to God and God talks back to Dolly Parton

Parton has a song, “God’s Coloring Book,” about how God speaks to her through nature.

“‘God’s Coloring Book’ expresses my spirituality and explains my connection with God,” she wrote. “When I see nature’s colors, that’s when I am closest to Him. I think that I am at my best when I write songs that are connected to God, as I see Him.”

It’s all connected for Parton — songwriting, God, and nature. She needs all three.

“A lot of people think that because I look so artificial, I never spend time outside. But I would never live anywhere but on a farm,” she wrote. ” I love to be out in nature. I have to smell the flowers. I have to touch the trees and the leaves. I sit under trees to write songs. I listen to God’s voice through the wind. I have to have that. I have to be part of that, and I am.”

Parton was surrounded by nature growing up in the mountains of East Tennessee. It’s been a life-long love affair.

“Growing up in the mountains, like we did, we were a part of the birds and the bees and the trees and the flowers,” she wrote.

Dolly Parton prays ‘a lot’

Parton began praying when she was a girl. Her grandfather was a preacher, so “God, faith, and all that” were instilled in Parton and her siblings from a very young age.


Young Dolly Parton’s Uncle and Boyfriend Made Her Take Down Her Trailer Decor That Signaled She Was a Sex Worker

Throughout her life, Parton has used prayer as a sort of compass.

“I pray a lot,” she told Southern Living in 2014. “I pray that God will show me what to do and will guide me and lead me. And I try not to answer His prayers. I try to keep myself wide open to recognize what it is that I’m supposed to know and to see. I may not always like a route that something’s taken. I might prefer it to be something different. But I think, ‘Well, this is what I’ve got.’ So you gotta make the most with what you’re supposed to be doing.”