'Bachelor' Matt James on How He Handles Religious Differences in Dating (Exclusive)

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Matt James' faith is a big part of his life and will be a big part of his time on The Bachelor. The 29-year-old kicked off his season of the ABC dating show on Monday night with a prayer. 

"I've had so long to think about what I'm going to say to you all, and I'm going to take a different approach," he told the women, before asking them to bow their heads and delivering a prayer that had several women tearing up. 

As Matt explained to ET's Lauren Zima, prayer has been a source of comfort to him when he's feeling anxious or stressed out -- which is what he was feeling on Night One. 

"First and foremost, I was extremely nervous. I was shaking walking up there. I wanted Chris to walk me inside and he left me," Matt joked. "So, I'm just walking in there and whenever I'm feeling that type of way or anxious I'm just like, 'Man, let me pray about this.' And that's what I did."

"It put me at ease, and I'm hoping that the women saw that," he continued. "I just wanted them to see where I go to in my times of anguish and when I'm stressed out, so that's what that was." 

Matt isn't the first Bachelor franchise lead to showcase their faith on the show. Hannah Brown said a prayer on her first night as Bachelorette in 2019, and refused to be shamed for how one man -- Luke Parker -- thought she should live her life as a Christian woman. And the most recent Bachelorette, Tayshia Adams, ended things with one of her finalists, Ivan Hall, after realizing they had religious differences.

While faith is important to Matt, it's not necessarily important to him that his partner share his beliefs. 

"My views are my own and I would never force that on somebody, especially with those views being different within my family," he said. "My brother and I have completely different religious beliefs, and I don't love him any less. I would never want that to be something that kept me from being with somebody." 

Another major point of discussion during Matt's season is race. The commercial real estate broker is the Bachelor franchise's first Black male lead and he spoke on the premiere about his upbringing as the son of a Black father and white mother. 

"I think it's important. It's something everyone should talk about, because it's what we're experiencing. And if you're white, if you're Black, our kids are going to look a certain way, and they're going to go through what I've been through," he told ET. "So, I think it's absolutely important and something that we talked about." 

"You'll hear [the women's] stances on it, and you'll see where I stand on it as well," he promised. 

Matt's season of The Bachelor airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. 

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