Dolly Parton ‘Grown Up in a Terrible Environment’ Fearing Religion: ‘God Was a Monster’


Dolly Parton has been very open about her relationship with God. Many of his songs are inspired by the gospel. But his radical upbringing was far from pleasant. In fact, the “9 to 5” singer says it was often terrifying and depressing.

Dolly Parton | Mark Metcalf / Getty Images

Dolly Parton grew up in fear of religion

Young Dolly grew up in Prayer House, a Church of God in Sevierville. His grandfather, Jake Owens, was a preacher.

“I remember he preaching hell fire and brimstone and how I used to be Real it scares me and i think it inspired me or sad I’m written into all these sad, mournful songs,” Parton told Rolling Stone in 1977, as recorded in the book dolly on dolly. “You grew up in a dreadful environment fearing religion. We thought that God was a Demon in the sky.”

But the church wasn’t all bad. Parton would sit in the last cup and the neighborhood boys would scratch the window hoping that she would come out with them.

“Sometimes I would go to church to see who would take me home,” she said.

‘Daddy was an old-time preacher’

Dolly Parton Thought It Was ‘Definitely Possible’ She’d Be A Preacher Besides Singing

The quote about Parton’s grandfather may be familiar to fans of the Queen of Country. It sounds like his song “Daddy is an Old Time Preacher Man”. Parton co-wrote the song with his aunt, Jake Owens’ daughter, Dorothy Owens. So it was Dorothy’s father who was actually an old time evangelist, not Parton.

The song was famously released in 1970 by Parton and his partner Porter Wagner.

He told people about the need to pray
He talked about God’s wrath and the Day of Judgment
He preached about the great eternity
They preach hell so hot you can feel the heat

“Daddy Was an Old Time Preacher Man” by Dolly Parton and Dorothy Owens

Today, Dolly Parton ‘She’s Not Religious’

Parton prays every single day; She talks to God regularly. But that is not what she would call religious.

“I’m not that religious, but I’m very, very spiritual,” she wrote in her 2020 book, Dolly Parton, songwriter: My Life in Lyrics. “I grew up in a very religious environment. I grew up with a biblical background, and I’m glad I did. I know my biblical stories, as I refer to those stories [‘The Master’s Hand’]”

Dolly Parton Wrote ‘The Seeker’ When She Was Deciding ‘Whether She Wanted to Be a Christian’

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

“I get it all,” she wrote. “And I do not condone the honesty of anyone’s faith.”



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