Just How Many Religious References Are In Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’?

“I’m a religious and spiritual person who’s obsessed with religious art… I’m obsessed with it,” said Lady Gaga in a recent interview with E! News. She was speaking of her “Judas” video, but she could be talking about her entire album, Born This Way (out today!). In almost every track on the powerful entertainer‘s new album, the pop star either hints to or overtly states her messages of love, faith and devotion through religious imagery and metaphors. Hey, what do you expect from someone who spent 13 years in Catholic school? Jump below as we go track-by-track to dig out all of Gaga’s religious (as well as political) references on Born This Way.

Artists have merged religion and pop music before — Madonna’s crucifix-donning get-up and the entirity of her “Like A Prayer” video is probably the most obvious example that comes to mind — but we can’t think of an artist who released an entire collection of music with so many references and allusions to their faith without creating a Christian pop album.

In fact, did Gaga release a Christian album? She preaches the power of prayer, devotion to a higher being and lack of judgment throughout these 17 tracks. And that alone is kind of extraordinary when most pop albums today (includingGaga’s debut The Fame) appear to be mostly concerned with going out to clubs.

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#1. “Marry The Night”
– There’s no direct religious reference in this song (which Gaga says is about “having a good time in NY with my friends, and how I would never be a Hollywood girl”) although marriage is obviously considered a religious institution. And it certainly shows Gaga’s newfound desire for commitment on this record – if this song were on The Fame, it’d probably be called “One Night Stand With The Night.”
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#2. “Born This Way” – With lyrics like “I’m beautiful in my way cause God makes no mistakes” and “A different lover is not a sin, believe capital H-I-M”, this song is basically a liberal outlook on religion – you can worship your god, but still be true to yourself, too. The tune to this song might sound familiar, but the god-heavy subject matter is pretty revolutionary for a dance-pop song.
Holy Rating: gaga-nun1

#3. “Government Hooker” – This song is “inspired by Marilyn Monroe + political mistresses”, says Gaga. If there’s a running theme besides religion on this album, it’s politics. Nothing super religious here, though the Mary Magdalene/prostitute angle certainly fits with the rest of the album.
Holy Rating: 0

#4. “Judas” –Lyrics like “Jesus is my virtue / but Judas is the demon I cling to” could be about the paradox one lives with of being god-fearing but still indulging in sinful activities. Or it could be about just loving a bad dude who betrays you. Still, the song is named “Judas.” She didn’t name it “Luc Carl” for a reason.
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#5. “Americano” – This mariachi-inspired song is more political than religious, though she does make mention of “I won’t speak your Jesus Christo” and about fighting for the freedom to love somebody. Sounds like the battle over gay marriage to us.
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#6. “Hair” – This track is about self-love and expression more than anything, though she does include a reference to praying: “This is my prayer, I swear, I’m as free as my hair.”
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#7. “Shieße” – Again, a reference to prayer – “Wish I could dance on a single prayer / Wish I could be strong without somebody there.”
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#8. “Bloody Mary” – This one has Gaga taking on the role of Mary Magdalene (much like she did in the “Judas” video). There’s references to prayer, crucifixion, Pontius, Jesus, being stoned… With the added chamber choir chanting her name, this track is definitely the most heavy with religious symbolism.
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#9. “Black Jesus + Amen Fashion” – Gaga explains that this song “about how putting on a new spirit is as easy as putting on fashion. Amen.” We’ll have to take her word for it, because the metaphor gets kind of muddy in this one. Still, if anyone is truly worshiping fashion these days, it’s Gaga.
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#10. “Bad Kids” – Nothing really religious here, though Gaga gets political again: “Just a freedom hussy / Rebel fashion junkie / And I wanna serve my country / in the best way that I could be / so don’t ask, cuz I’ll tell you I’m free.” A “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” reference!
Holy Rating: 0


#11. “Fashion Of His Love” – Could the “his” be talking about God? Well, a fashion god, at least — This one’s about Alexander McQueen.
Holy Rating: 0

#12. “Highway Unicorn (Road To Love)” - Only a bit more political talk, where Gaga declares “she don’t care if your papers or your love is the law / She’s a free soul burnin’ roads with a flag in her bra.”
Holy Rating: 0

#13. “Heavy Metal Lover” -This synth-heavy piece of techno with the entirely inaccurate title only gets a bit religious during the heavily robotized bridge: “Wash the night away with St. Jameson / Like a baptism heavy metal lovers play / Because we were born this way.”
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#14. “Electric Chapel” – First she’s marrying the night, now she’s found herself in an electric chapel. And it sounds like she’s having a white wedding: “Follow me, I need something more from you / It’s not about sex or champagne you holy fool.” Gaga says the song is “about needing to feel safe to find love”, and despite its name, it sounds more like it’s about the Monster Ball: “Pray for your sins right under the glass disco ball”.
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#15. “The Queen” – We’re not convinced that this one is not also about Alexander McQueen, particularly the line “Don’t forget me when I come crying to heaven’s door.”
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#16. “You And I” – Besides another reference to heaven (“We don’t pay rent cause you can’t buy a house in heaven”), this one just has a passing reference to Gaga’s personal beliefs: “There’s only three men that I’mma serve my whole life / It’s my daddy and Nebraska and Jesus Christ.” She serves him well with this whole album.
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#17. “The Edge Of Glory” – After two references to heaven, we get one shout-out to hell (“It isn’t hell if everybody knows my name tonight”) in this song about passing onto the other side. And Gaga does indeed believe in another side after death. You don’t need mentions of crucifixes and Jesus and Mary for a song to be deeply rooted in one’s religious beliefs. It’s too bad it took Gaga an entire album to finally find some subtle way to express her faith.
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  • X.

    I would give “Bad Kids” a cross or two because she sounds like a crazy evangelical preacher in that intro.

  • Xadax

    Can’t wait for you to release top 10 failtastic lyrics of Born This Way, The Fame & TF Monster.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rene-Arreola/100000462465887 Rene Arreola

    this album is all about 3 things, self-love, religion, and political stuff, “marry the night” its just about what she is and she wont cry shes just willing to have a great time, (self-love) “born this way” (its obvious) “the government hooker” back in time people just to say that catholic church was everybodys bitch, (theres a book called “la puta de babilonia) wich means the whore of Babylon, and the writer explains everything, “americano” illegal people in the u.s and gay marriage, “black jesus” she says “jesus is the new black (colour black its the most fancy colour and always in and fashion, according with fashion designer,), “Highway Unicorn (Road To Love)” im not sure but it seems to me like shes talking about a tranny, “the queen” shes talking about self-love once again, “you and i” its just about love, (ppl please dont make up things where theres nothing but the obvious,) and “the edge of glory” its about her grandpa” okay enough, im tired and i need to get some sleep =)

  • Liz

    Well, Gaga is taking a half-step towards acceptable for me. I think she is making religious references in her music because she feels that her message of self-love and acceptance should spread into her music. Maybe she thinks that her ‘Little Monsters’ will accept her faith.

  • http://www.timeout.com/london/ Time Out

    Read Time Out’s new Lady Gaga interview and find out how her views on religion inspired the songs on Born This Way – plus, discover why she hates the video for Telephone…http://www.timeout.com/gaga/?DCMP=Lady-gaga-bl

  • Michelle

    I agree with your review, and was wondering myself if the genre of this album is Christian Rock. I started getting hooked on her music last summer, and have seen her in concert twice since then (in different cities), but am very disappointed with the overwhelming Christian theme of this album. I believe in reality, not ridiculous fairy tales, whether they be Christian, Native American, ancient Greek, or other. None of her previous songs alluded to this direction.

    I found the God line in the Born This Way track acceptable, because it’s non-denominational, although the “capital H-i-m” line was pushing it. But the references to Jesus and praying in the rest of the tracks of the full album are too specific, too frequent, too much.

    We are going to have to put up with these songs for quite a while — her whole next tour, and if her next album is equally religious, well it’s just not my type of music.

    The Monster Ball was a fantastic experience, but if the Born This Way tour will be getting together with 15k other fans in a stadium and singing about Jesus, it’s definitely not my thing.

    I still respect her for her talent and what she’s accomplished. How much of a fan I will be in the future remains to be determined.

  • http://queer-life.blogspot.com/ Bishop Yochanan

    I’m an independent Catholic Bishop, and I love her music. She is inspirational and heavily influential. To a previous poster who criticized her’s and others’ faith, calling it “ridiculous fairytales”, please try to accept a different train of thought. We live in a world obsessed with literal interpretation, and religious texts speak from a time of allegory and symbols. Yes, there are many impossible things in scriptures – because these things are allegorical, not literal. Many things in scriptures are literal; many things are not. One needs to have a working knowledge of the context, language, and culture to understand this, so I understand your point of view. But frankly, it isn’t a fair one.

    It is only the religious Christian right (of which Gaga will have no part, mind you), that seeks to literalize everything. In Judaism, half of the things taken in fundie Christianity to be literal are taught to be symbolic. In Hinduism, almost every myth is symbolic. In Native American religion, again, the allegory is abundant. The same can be said of almost every other religion, ancient and not. Christianity, and only fundamentalist Christianity at that, stands alone.

    These are indeed fairytales, and I assure you that no sane religious person would believe in them literally. Please do not condemn Gaga’s music for religious themes. She is Catholic, although a liberal one. She should be able to express this part of herself through music, as music is, indeed, intended as self-expression.

    Be blessed.

    + Yochanan

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  • isabella and the people

    so ima bit confused the more crosses it has its bad?

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