Is he a Hindu hottie, but you're a Catholic cutie? Not sure what to get your friend for her Bat Mitzvah? Wondering about Wicca? Pastor Paul answers all your religion and spirituality questions. Send them to

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  • Check out the trascript from Pastor Paul's chat on Yahoo!

  • Dear Pastor Paul,
    My parents were never devout Christians, but I was as a child. I have since renounced organized religion and secretly become agnostic. My parents are determined to have me confirmed, and I'm trying to refuse on the grounds that I don't believe in organized religion. They believe in conformity and think that I'm simply being strange and that my opinions don't matter. Though I respect Christians for having faith, I myself can't follow Christian teachings. I don't want to insult Christianity by lying and saying I believe something that I don't, but I don't know how to get out of confirmation. Any advice?

    It sounds like you're a seeker and that, in the words of U2, you "still haven't found what you're looking for." I congratulate you on the seriousness with which you approach the questions of religion and spirituality. You are honoring the integrity of the confirmation ceremony by not wanting to approach it superficially.

    The missing figure in this equation is the priest or minister who is leading the confirmation class. What does he or she think? Can you trust this clergyperson to listen respectfully and answer you? Pull him or her aside at some point and share your concerns. Perhaps the pastor or priest may even be able to help you with your parents.

    I can't advise you to disobey your parents. But I hope they will take the time to listen to you, and allow you the time to discover what you truly believe. If they flat out require you to be confirmed, then you should know that rituals such as baptism and confirmation are only as "true" as the person's heart is truthful. It will be meaningless but will allow you the opportunity to honor your parents' wishes and may provide your parents with the conformity you say they crave.

  • Check out this piece on confirmation conundrums.

  • Dear Pastor Paul,
    I'm thinking about asking out this girl I've had my eye on for a while. I want to take her out someplace really nice, but she's Muslim, and I have no idea if there are any food restrictions. Can you help? Thanks.

    --Hungry in Havana

    Hi Havana ,
    I don't want to bring you down, but if this girl is a really observant Muslim, then chances are she might not go out with you, or anyone, for that matter. Muslim guys and gals are often not allowed to "date," in the conventional sense of the word. Make it a group outing, and she's more likely to give you the thumbs up!

    If she does say yes to a one-on-one dinner, tell her about the restaurant you want to take her to and ask about her tastes in food. This gives her the opportunity to lay out her preferences, which she can declare are faith-based or simply a matter of taste.

    FYI, there are some basic dietary restrictions within the Muslim faith. During the month of Ramadan (which is based on the lunar calendar), Muslims do not eat or drink anything from sunrise to sunset. Two other primary restrictions are no alcohol and no pork. Some Muslims choose to eat only halal meat--meat that is prepared according to Muslim law. If you're curious about this or any other aspect of Islam--express your interest over dinner. If you are polite and truly interested, she will appreciate sharing the specifics of her faith as she gets to know you better.

  • Read more about interfaith dating.

  • Dear Pastor Paul,
    I listen to Limp Bizkit and other music with cursing--AC/DC, Metallica, and others--and am a totally devoted Christian. I love the Lord with all my heart and soul; he is top number one in my life. Is it okay for me to listen to that kind of music as long as I don't repeat the curse words and it doesn't pull me away from God?

    --Lyra in Louisiana

    Rock on, Lyra!
    I'm not going to condemn you for listening to hard rock. I listen to rock music. It sounds like you are aware of the potential of moving away from God, and are maintaining your admirable devotion to the Lord. Just pay special attention that the swear words--and stereotypes--don't enter into your everyday vocabulary (it makes you sound dumb).

    Take the time to explore what about this music interests you, and see the connections between that and your faith. I know that frustration, anger, betrayal, and confusion are parts of life that hard rock explores, and that Christian leaders often avoid. Just so you know--God understands these emotions too, and is with you as you go through hard times as well as good ones.

  • From thoughts on Britney Spears to Marilyn Manson, check out the talk on the music boards.
  • Pastor Paul has worked with young people in the Twin Cities, Seattle, Sao Paulo, and New York City. He currently is a chaplain at Columbia University in New York City.