For a family often charged with provoking the end of Western civilization, the Kardashians have always been surprisingly religious. Matriarch Kris Jenner hand-picked the pastor for the family’s evangelical church in Los Angeles, Kim has said has said she tithes 10 percent of her income, and the family is often photographed attending Sunday services together.
Now, Khloé Kardashian has shared the story of her own religious journey in a 1,000-word essay published in Lena Dunham’s newsletter, Lenny. Titled “My Relationship With Spirituality,” it’s a revealing text for observers of both the Kardashians and of contemporary American religious practice.
The essay takes the form of a spiritual autobiography, a genre so capacious that it has room for both Puritans and Kardashians. Khloé’s father was a devout Christian, she begins, and she grew up attending Presbyterian and Catholic schools. “We went to church every Sunday, religiously,” she writes—which is funny if she meant to say that and funnier if she didn’t. She remembers trying to take communion at Mass with her Catholic class, despite the fact that non-Catholics are not welcome to do so. She cried when she was told she couldn’t, but her father explained that “I was dedicated to the Lord and that was all that mattered.”
The anecdote, in which Khloé brushes off traditional strictures to find peace through a do-your-own-thing approach, establishes the theme of her journey. Khloé has attended Seders with Jewish friends, dated a Muslim, and prays every day. She has learned from books like Embraced by the Light about near-death experiences and likes reading about theology, Buddhism, and Islam. She uses a daily devotional book with Bible verses and brief prayers and reads affirmations to her “glam squad” every day.
The essay is sprinkled with the clichés of contemporary American spirituality: “I don’t think a church necessarily makes you religious”; “I don’t judge people for their beliefs”; “I believe that every person serves a purpose and that they have chosen their path.” And she cannily includes some material for gossips, too, writing that while she is at peace with her decision to divorce Lamar Odom (who she doesn’t name) and feels “that I kept the serious vows I made in front of God with every inch of my heart, which is why I am still honoring them today even though my relationship with my ex-husband is in a different place.” Khloé also writes about how her faith helped her find peace after her father’s death, when she was feeling profoundly angry.
She never explains what exactly that faith is—a sort of hazy belief in a benevolent “higher power,” it seems—but it’s clear that religion has remained a touchstone throughout her chaotically #blessed life:
I’m very conversational with God and spirits. I talk to myself and to them but sometimes unconventionally. I’ll be lying in bed and just say out loud, “Lord, thank you so much for keeping my brother and sisters healthy!” … I just don’t believe praying has to be so structured. Sometimes I’ll just ramble. And I pray more when I’m thankful than in times of need. It’s a time of self-reflection. I like to give praise and gratitude. I know how fortunate I am.
The Kardashians’ religious practice has sometimes looked comically incongruous at first glance: When the family attended church last Easter, Kourtney wore a see-through lace turtleneck, and Kendall worshiped in an off-the-shoulder crop top, ripped jeans, and stiletto sandals. But what’s more American than taking a tradition, tossing out what you don’t like, and remaking it in your own image? As a wise woman once tweeted, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone.”