Photo credit: Kevin Abosch

Long before Britney Spears shaved her head, there was Sinead O'Connor.

Like Spears, the Irish-born O'Connor has generated her share of controversy. A Grammy Award-winning singer best known for her hugely popular 1990 hit "Nothing Compares 2 U," O'Connor created a furor when she ripped up a photo of Pope John Paul II on "Saturday Night Live" in October 1992. Although she is herself a Catholic, O'Connor declared that John Paul, who died in 2005, was "the real enemy." Since then, although O'Connor has put out a number of records since her breakthrough 1990 album "I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got," she has not had enjoyed continued success in the United States. All that may change, however, with her new release, "Theology," a two-CD set consisting of an acoustic and full-band version of 11 songs, most written by O'Connor herself, and based on passages from the Old Testament.

O'Connor recently spoke to Beliefnet about her fascination with the Rastafari movement, the other religions that appeal to her, and the problems she has with Catholicism.

Listen to Music from Sinead O'Connor's 'Theology':
Something BeautifulIf You Had a Vineyard

You've had a very interesting faith journey.  How do you define your spiritual life now?


Well, I would consider myself Catholic, by birth and by culture and by blood. But I'm extremely inspired by a number of other religious traditions and also extremely inspired by the Rastafari movement. 


What do you identify so closely with Rasta?


What I admire and love the idea of is that they see themselves almost as soldiers for God. They have this concept of the idea of rescuing God—from all kinds of situations--and they have a tremendous excitement about God. They use music as a priesthood, and that's very appealing to me. I was interested in them because they were the first people I learned from that God and religion are two different things. I admire them and the idea of God needing to be rescued, from religion, for example.


Are you more of a God person or a religion person?


Well, I would say much more of a God person, but I love religion. I've been studying all kinds of religions since I was a child, literally all my life. I adore religion and love it. Obviously, like anything, it has all sorts of negatives sometimes, as we all do. But, I'm much more of a God person.