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How COVID Impacted Religion and Spirituality for People in Camden

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The COVID-19 pandemic altered the way many people lived their lives, from financially to socially, but what about religiously?

Although raised in a Baptist Christian household, Melissa Bonilla is no longer affiliated with any religion. The 21-year-old who lives with her family in Sicklerville, used to attend church every Wednesday when she was 12.

After meeting her boyfriend in high school, she began attending his church for two years.

“My parents were always religious,” Bonilla said. “They didn’t force us to go to church but they always had the views of it, so we always had a Jesus [painting] on the wall.”

Bonilla’s parents were both from Honduras. She began leaning on religion and the church when her mom passed away in 2017. The views that the church had on the LGBTQ community was the reason Bonilla left the as she began questioning her sexuality. She also didn’t like the judgment placed on other religions and practices within her church.

“I was at my ex’s church and at this point I was so into it trying to be the perfect girl, you know, but that day the pastor was talking about how being gay or bisexual was a sin and they won’t go to heaven. I started bawling.”

Bonilla left that day knowing she couldn’t go back to church and felt free. “I felt like I was trapped in religion,” Bonilla said.

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Faithfully Magazine is a fresh, bold and exciting news and culture publication that covers issues, conversations and events impacting Christian communities of color.


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