Zappa was raised as a Catholic, but later became an atheist.
"When Dweezil was born, Gail decided to have 'natural childbirth.' At that time, the only hospital in Los Angeles that would allow this process to occur with a Dad in the delivery room was Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital. When it was time for the Big Delivery, we experienced a slight delay -- we had to fill out a mass of papers before they'd let us in, riddled with irrelevant questions like: "What religion are you?"
Gail looked at me and said, "What do we put?" I said, "Musician."'' (FZ in The Real Frank Zappa Book, page 216.)
Zappa was very critical of organized religion and the power and influence it has on politics and people. During the 1980s he wrote several satirical songs about the Moral Majority and televangelists like Jerry Falwell, Robert Tilton, Pat Robertson, Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart.
"They tried to make me go to Catholic school, too. I lasted a very short time. When the penguin came after me with a ruler, I was out of there. (...)I still went to church regularly, though, until I was eighteen years old. Then suddenly, the light bulb went on over my head. All the mindless mobidity and discipline was pretty sick – bleeding this, painful that and no meat on Friday. What is this shit? (...) Well, I think it was possible to do what I've done only because I escaped the bondage of being a devout believer. To be a good member of the congregation, ultimately you have to stop thinking. The essence of Christianity is told to us in the Garden of Eden story. The fruit that was forbidden was on the tree of knowledge. The subtext is, All the suffering you have is because you wanted to find out what was going on. You could still be in the Garden of Eden if you had just kept your fucking mouth shut and hadn't asked any questions." (Frank Zappa. Interview in Playboy, 1993)
But, despite his objections against organized religion and the fact that he didn't believe in God or Jesus, he tolerated religious people.
"One of the misconceptions about evangelicals in the U.S. is that they're all as extreme as Swaggart, Falwell and Robertson. They're not. Most of them just want to worship at their local church. They don't give a shit about those guys on television -- they think they're clowns and that what they do cheapens everyone's religious experience. On this, we definitely agree." — Frank Zappa, The Real Frank Zappa Book.
Songs about religion or referencing religious topics
(Not included are songs with occasional exclamations or swear words like "Good God", "Oh my God" or "goddamn".)
- Jesus Thinks You're A Jerk
- Catholic Girls
- Cucamonga (The Track): "Near a Holy-Roller Church"
- Jewish Princess
- Church Chat
- Your Mouth: "Your mouth is your religion"
- The Idiot Bastard Son: "All the time he would spend/at the church he'd attend"
- The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing
- A Nun Suit Painted On Some Old Boxes
- Dumb All Over
- 200 Years Old: "Like she had true religion/Just like she had true religion."
- Penis Dimension "Weird twisted anxieties that could force a person to become (...) a Jesuit monk."
- Dancin' Fool and Stick It Out: "What, you're Jewish?"
- A Token Of My Extreme
- God Bless America
- Blessed Relief
- Be-Bop Tango (Of the Old Jazz-Men's Church)
- The Christian hymn Bringing In The Sheaves is quoted in Friendly Little Finger and Wino Man - With Dr. John Routine.
- The Poodle Lecture mentions God
- Sofa mentions God
- Nasal Retentive Calliope Music: "God. It's God. I see God."
- The Adventures Of Greggery Peccary: "What had God wrought?"
- Muffin Man: "Nothing so exalted on the face of God's grey earth as that prince of foods: the muffin!"
- Soft-Sell Conclusion: "Worshipping together in the church of your choice".
- The Rejected Mexican Pope Leaves The Stage
- Hot Plate Heaven At The Green Hotel
- A Few Moments With Brother A. West
- Dummy Up: "A true Zen saying. Nothing is what I want."
- St. Alphonzo's Pancake Breakfast
- Father O'Blivion
- Cosmik Debris: "He said for a nominal service charge/I could reach nirvana tonight!" and "what kind of a guru are you anyway?"
- Strictly Genteel is sang like a prayer asking God to have mercy on various kinds of people
- What Kind Of Girl Do You Think We Are?: "My church plugged into the gravy train" and "we wouldn't blow you just because you know God".
- The Massive Improve'lence
- When The Lie's So Big
- Tears Began To Fall: "Tears began to fall and fall and fall down the church, down the church".
- Religious Superstition
- The original title of Eat That Question was "Eat That Christian".
- Have You Ever Heard Their Band?: "I just thought that before we just thought of these things . . . ya know, like just off the wall and out of our heads. No, that's religious superstition."
- Church of American Secular Humanism
- Church of the SubGenius
- The Holy Land
- Once A Catholic
- Holy Rollers
- Holy Terror
- The Last Temptation Of Christ
- Salvation For Sale
- The World Church
- Keith Moon plays a nun in 200 Motels (The Film)
- A nun can be seen in the music video of You Are What You Is (The Track)
- Dio Fa
- Anti-Defamation League Of The B'nai B'rith
- "Congress Shall Make No Law . . ." features tracks with titles referring to the Ten Commandments.
- Mother, Mary 'n Jozef
- Hare Rama
- Brown Moses
- The Garden of Gethsemane
- Ave Maria
- The Devil (CC)
- L. Ron Hoover
- Quentin Robert DeNameland
In The Real Frank Zappa Book, in the chapter "Church & State", Zappa printed several quotes by famous people who claim they don't believe in God or believe that Church and government should remain separate.