General Question

Judi's avatar

What is Lawrence Odonnell's religion ?

Asked by Judi (40025points) December 2nd, 2011 from iPhone

Last night in his show, Lawrence Odonnell said he had never had a drop of alcohol in his life. I’ve never really known anyone to have that kind of commitment without a religious motivation. Does anyone know What his religious persuasion is, or if not because of religion, What his motivation to abstain from alcohol is?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

22 Answers

thorninmud's avatar

He’s Catholic. That doesn’t go far in explaining his aversion to alcohol, obviously. Don’t really know how he comes by that.

I know that my father never knowingly touched alcohol in his life, and religion wasn’t a factor. He had seen it ruin his brother’s life and so wanted nothing to do with it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I really don’t think that’s so uncommon. People just might never be interested in that kind of thing. I used to drink when I was younger and I never drink now. I have no religion and I don’t care if others drink. I just don’t get why I have to drink to ‘relax’ or ‘have fun’ or ‘loosen up’ or ‘be social’ of any of that. I literally see no point to alcohol unless you use it to self-medicate.

Judi's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir; That is totally understandable to me. You tried it, it didn’t do anything for you, so why bother. But to get to his age and never even try it must come from some inner conviction. @thorninmud could be right. He may have seen it ruin someone’s life when he was younger.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Judi Maybe but why would that come from religion, necessarily? My partner never smoked a cigarette in his life. He’s an atheist.

zensky's avatar

Muslims are not supposed to drink alcohol. Unless you’re a rich sheik from Dubai. Make that only poor Muslims aren’t supposed to drink. Wait til they finally peek behind the curtain and see the wizard with a chivas. Ahh, the wasted centuries.

Mariah's avatar

I am not religious, but up until very recently I had never touched alcohol either. I know it’s hardly comparable since I’m only 19. But I just have to agree with Simone that that conviction could easily have come from elsewhere, not just religious beliefs.

Judi's avatar

I’m open to the idea that it could be something other than religious.
Just curious what it is. Maybe I’ll try to “friend” him on Facebook and ask.

linguaphile's avatar

I know someone who refuses to touch anything mind-altering, not because of religion, but because her dad taught her how to roll a joint at age 2. Growing up with parents who were never in their ‘right mind’ gave her conviction to never touch alcohol or any other kind of drugs. She even considered quitting caffeine when she realized it was technically a drug. but settled for only consuming caffeine in naturally occurring forms (coffee, tea, chocolate) not man-made forms (cola, energy drinks, etc).

tedd's avatar

I am agnostic at best, and I have never had alcohol in all of my 26 years. This despite going to a college with a well known reputation for being a party school, and frequenting parties and even bars with friends, as well as hosting parties and spending money on alcohol for said parties.

I have no qualms with alcohol, in fact I think the drinking age should be lowered significantly and we should educate people to be smart drinkers. It’s just not for me.

cazzie's avatar

Why does it have to be a religious thing at all? I know plenty of people who don’t or can’t drink and it’s not because of religion.

fundevogel's avatar

Guys, local word nerd here. What we have here is the perfect opportunity to use a rare word, “teetotaler”. Someone for instance could add O’Donnell to wikipedia’s list of famous teetotalers from which his name is absent.

zensky's avatar

Just curious: what is “agnostic at best?”

saint's avatar

Don’t know. But the name O’Donnell sounds Irish. I bet I know what his grandparents were. My best friend thinks religion is just ancient nonsense, and he has never touched alcohol. Not sure there is a connection.

fundevogel's avatar

@zensky At worst an atheist.

JLeslie's avatar

@Judi If I had to guess, based on stereotypes, and actual statistics of ethnicities prone to alcoholism, he probably had an alcoholic in his family, and never wanted to risk it. You know, O’Donnell and all. But assumptions are never good, so I could be totally wrong. I agree it is unusual to never had tried a taste.

zenvelo's avatar

I know of a few people who have never had a drop to drink because of growing up with an alcoholic. Being the child of an alcoholic tends to encourage drinking or to completely discourage it. And both poles may be found amongst siblings.

Nullo's avatar

Drinking is neither an obligation nor a sign of maturity. Some people just don’t.
Not terribly uncommon. I know a guy who has never bought alcohol in his 40+ years.

Buttonstc's avatar

Donald Trump is a teetotaler and afaik the only way he could be considered “religious” is that he worships the “gods” of money and power :)

But, seriously, he has often spoken about his older brother who was a severe alcoholic and died early because of it.

And he has also mentioned, in a rather pontificating way (IMHO) that if he sees business associates getting drunk at social functions that he immediately loses all respect for them.

So I assume that if he saw the same in any of his employees, they’d soon be receiving a pink slip forthwith. (But I guess adultery and multiple marriages are fine since that’s the domain of the boss :)

And let’s not forget Gene Simmons, rather an anomaly in the atmosphere of “sex, drugs, and rock n roll”. But good for him for sticking to his guns about it.

Has O Donnell been a lifelong abstainer? There are tons of recovering addicts and alcoholics who don’t touch a drop now but more than made up for it in previous years.

People abstain from alcohol for a wide variety of reasons, many of which have nothing at all to do with religion. Strictly speaking I guess I couldn’t technically call myself an absolute teetotaler but on a practical level, I can literally count the number of times I’ve had anything at all to drink in the last ten years on the fingers of one hand. Basically a few sips if I’m at a New Years party or at a dinner party with friends. I grew up in an Alcoholic family and I really can’t tolerate hard liquor at all.

JLeslie's avatar

I always think of Gene Simmons as being like me, because I don’t think there was alcoholism in his family? I once saw Joy Behar say that if someone doesn’t drink it must be they are alcoholics, everyone drinks. That pissed me off for several reasons. I say this realizing at the same time I guessed O’Donnell probably had alcoholism in his family; “not a drop,” is different than saying, “I don’t drink.” But, I never got hi, so maybe it is the same?

My mom never drank, there isn’t any alcoholism in my family, in any generation or relation that I know of, except that in my dad’s retired years he took up drinking wine, which bothers me actually.

I don’t mind if someone gets drunk once in a while, sounds like Trump has no tolerance for it, but someone who drinks every day, or even every weekend, or every time they go out, I find that annoying. There are many many people who don’t drink or rarely drink. It is difficult sometimes for some people to realize it, because if they are drinkers they tend to be around drinkers.

@Buttostc When you say you have no tolerance, do you mean you get drunk fast? Or, that you can’t watch others drinking?

Judi's avatar

@Buttonstc, he said he had NEVER HAD A DROP of alcohol in his life.
I don’t drink but I can’t say I have never indulged.

Buttonstc's avatar


I was specifically referencing hard liquor (as oposed to wine or the frou-frou drinks with umbrellas or those which taste more like melted ice cream or dessert).

I vividly remember a small family party I was at with the secretary at our school to celebrate the safe return of her soldier son from his tour of duty in Vietnam. They had a bottle of super expensive Premium Scotch (or whiskey or whatever) and she was insisting I try just a little bit. So she poured about ½ inch into an 8 oz. glass and told me to put in Ginger Ale and ice as necessary. So I filled up the glass to about halfway with soda and ice and took a small sip. It tasted exactly the way a cigarette ashtray smells. I had to fill it up to the brim with soda just to be able to tolerate a few small sips when they did the toast. And the rest of that glass remained untouched for the remainder of the time I was there. To this day I still don’t get why ANYONE would spend significant amounts for the “premium” version of this stuff so they can have the “privilege” of drinking the liquid equivalent of cigarette ashes.

Hope that clarified what I meant by no tolerance :D

In order for me to enjoy any alcoholic drink, it has to taste the least like alcohol if that makes sense.

I also remember when I was about 10–11 years old going on the hunt for my Mom’s secret stash (she preferred vodka since she was under the delusion that since it didn’t have any taste that people couldn’t smell it on her breath and tell she had been drinking.) WRONG. And it’s not as if there weren’t plenty of other clues also.

Anyhow, I found it and, just prior to dumping it down the sink, decided to find out what the big irresistible attraction seemed to be. So I took a big swig and promptly spit it out.

I guess it doesn’t have as much flavor as other types of booze, but it tasted absolutely wretched and I honestly couldn’t see what the big attraction was and still don’t.

I’ve never developed a taste for alcohol and considering the family history, I certainly don’t feel deprived in the least.

I just have felt that for me, personally, being an absolute teetotaler wasn’t really all that necessary since the few types of drinks I can tolerate and the times when occasions arise are so infrequent, it’s just not a big enough deal for me to avoid it totally. It’s just kind of pointless.

I guess I’ve got a natural aversion to most types of alcohol either due simply to taste issues or past associations so it just doesn’t occupy any significant amount of my time or attention.

For the past two years I’ve been taking medication for my arthritic knees with no cartilage left so that precludes any alcohol at all. I havent had anything to drink for two years, so it’s basically a moot point at this time.

Buttonstc's avatar


I belatedly realized that after re-reading your post.

Hard to know why that was his choice. Different people have different reasons.

I have tons of friends who specifically don’t drink for religious reasons (with Bible verses to back it up) so I can certainly undestand you wondering if that were his reason as well.

I just don’t happem to see it the same way that my friends do but it’s never really that much of an issue with us. The Bible primarily cautions against drunkenness but really doesn’t have much to say otherwise and Christ did turn water into wine at the wedding, so…

And if anyone decides to totally abstain for any reason at all, I’m certainly not going to do anything other than applaud their decision. Lack of alcohol never harmed anybody or any situation I’ve ever encountered that’s for sure :)

If you ever do get an answer from him be sure to update here. It would be an interesting little factoid to know.

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther