ABC Exec Addresses ‘Bachelor’ Religion Backlash, ‘Queen’ Victoria and More

Matt James’ journey to find love is officially underway — and ABC executive Robert Mills is answering Bachelor Nation’s burning questions about season 25.

“Episode one I always view as the pregame show,” the head of ABC’s Alternative Series, Specials & Late-Night Programming began on the Tuesday, January 12, episode of Nick Viall’s “Viall Files” podcast. “There’s a lot of root-ability, but there’s some ridiculousness [this season] as well.”

The 29-year-old former football player kicked off his journey during the January 4 premiere with a prayer at Nemacolin Resort in Pennsylvania.

“I didn’t expect [the prayer] to be such a hot-button [topic] of interest. And I actually understand some of it, [when people ask], ’What if this had been someone of a different domination?’” Mills told the season 21 Bachelor. “I have heard somebody say in the prayer, like, ‘Please either bow your head in the manner you’re accustomed to or whatever.’ But this is a guy, he just met 32 women. … The fact that he didn’t tell people, like, ‘Hey if this is not OK with you.’ … He didn’t mean —”

Nick, 40, then injected, “It’s just a prayer, it’s not going to burn you.”

Religion also made headlines during The Bachelorette season 16 finale after Tayshia Adams eliminated Ivan Hall, implying there were religious differences between them.

“That’s on us for not clarifying that as much as we could,” Mills said, referring to Ivan’s sudden exit.

Ivan later confirmed that he identifies as “agnostic,” which was a deal breaker for Tayshia.

“Atheist is taking a hard stance that there is no God, and that’s not what I believe at all. It’s completely different things, but everybody confuses it. Agnostic is strictly saying, I don’t know, basically,” he explained on Kaitlyn Bristowe’s “Off the Vine” podcast in December. “I’m gonna tell our kids, I don’t know what there is, and then you can tell the kids whatever you want, and you can take them to church, that’s completely fine with me. For Tayshia, it’s something different, where she, I guess, actually wanted to date someone who is Christian. And that’s completely fine, and that’s how a lot of people are.”

While there was a discussion on social media about Matt’s opening night prayer, Nick noted that the Wake Forest alum “set the stage for whatever is important to him,” which is key for his future wife to know. “If that’s something that’s a big part of his life and he wants [it] to be a big part of his relationship, it makes sense,” he said. “It also would make sense if it does make someone uncomfortable if they’re not into it, but that’s a discussion then maybe we will have.”

The Bachelor airs on ABC Mondays at 8 p.m. ET.

Scroll through for the biggest takeaways from Mills:

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