People answering the Times Orange County Poll and others interviewed for this series were asked to elaborate on their feelings about God, worship and spirituality.
Delois Landrum, 48, is an eighth-grade language arts teacher who lives in Santa Ana.
A Baptist from her earliest days in Arkansas, she regularly attends the Greater Light Missionary Baptist Church in Santa Ana.
“As a young girl, I recall my mom and my dad always serving the Lord . . . by charitable acts, attending church, praying, seeing to the needs of the neighbors. . . . There was nothing of themselves they didn’t share with those who were less fortunate. . . .
“We lived on meager fare, but from the love my parents showed to me, it made me feel rich. . . .
“I rely totally on the Lord. . . . I walk by faith, not by sight. I believe that God will supply all of my needs, whatever they are. I believe God will provide for every situation in my life. . . . And God always comes through. . . .
“I worship all the time. . . . Every morning when I first get up, I am praising and worshiping Him. That sets the tone to my day. . . . I let God totally take control of my day and everything seems to fall into place for me.
“I am like the anchor for my family. . . . If there are problems and situations needing prayer, my sisters, my brothers, my nieces and my nephews call me to get an answer. Before my son makes a decision, he will check with me and say, ‘Mom, what do you think?’
“You have to lean on the Lord. Whatever it is that is bothering me, I . . . give it to Him. . . . That is how I find peace. . . . If I didn’t have that peace, I couldn’t rest.”
Todd Pierce, 23, majors in international politics at Cal State Long Beach and lives in Garden Grove.
A former Episcopalian, he no longer claims a religious affiliation.
“Religion doesn’t play an important role in my daily life. I have friends who are ‘born-again’ Christians, but I have too many questions about religious teachings to accept what is preached as truth.
“It’s just that I haven’t established my own beliefs. At this period in my life, I need to find my own instead of having a church tell me what they are. . . .
“I was baptized Episcopalian, but I really haven’t had any religious affiliation since I was little. I probably went maybe once or twice a month until I was 11.”
Pierce recalls being turned off to the church at age 16 by the intensity of a group of young, “born-again” Christians.
“They were very condemning of most people. . . . They were very preachy, and it just turned me off. I’m not saying all ‘born-again’ Christians are like that, but these particular ones really put a bad taste in my mouth. It had the complete opposite effect of what they intended. . . .
“I know the church has done plenty of good in the world, but history shows that it has done some bad things too. At this point, I’ve decided it’s not for me.”
Sandra Martinez, 27, is a homemaker from Westminster.
She has no religious affiliation.
“I believe in God, although I have doubts. . . . Sometimes I look back on things that have happened in my life and I think, ‘There is no God.’ But then again, sometimes I think ‘How can there not be?’
“When I was growing up, my mother was open-minded about church. She encouraged us to go until we were old enough to decide for ourselves.
“But my stepfather had strong attitudes against the church. He called it a ‘monument of stupidity.’ I’m sure he believed in God in his own way, but his mother had donated large amounts of money to the church and I guess he thought that was wrong.
“I don’t attend church now. (And) I don’t like to be preached to.”
Interviewed by Times staff writer Kristina Lindgren and Times researcher Janice Jones.