Who hates religion in fiction?

I’m always wary about reviews that talk about how a book is “too religious.” Not even that it’s religious message fic (which sucks) but that the character has religion, or is religious at all.Sometimes I think there are people out there who are hurt at the mere mention of religion in a novel.

And I’m not talking about religious themes, or concepts, or overtones, but religion itself. What moron thinks like that? This is basic, dirt-stupid cultural anthropology. We’re somehow going to have a world completely and utterly devoid of religion? What evangelical atheist paradise is this?

I mean, heck, a world devoid of all Judeo-Christian mythos will still have pagans. Just look at L Jagi Lamplighter’s Rachel Griffin books if you don’t believe me.

But to discount religion or religious characters, there goes half of David Weber, most of Larry Correia and at least two entire series by John Ringo. Hell, there goes Terry Goodkind and his made-up nuns in The Sword of Truth. There even goes William Lehman’s books. There goes Ann Margaret Lewis, Karina Fabian, Richard Paolinelli, John C. Wright….

How about Chronicles of Narnia? Is that going into the wood-chipper too? I’m sure that Tolkein barely gets a pass, because his books were supposed to be a “pre-Christian” mythos, but he himself is Catholic.

But, heck, even the new Wonder Woman film made Ares sound like the Judeo-Christian Satan. I guess that goes down the crapper.

“I don’t like religion in my stories” … yeah, good luck with finding something completely and utterly devoid of faith. I wonder if people like this were offended by Captain America’s line that “There’s only one God, and he doesn’t dress like [Loki or Thor].” Because, you know, that was a line written by an atheist. Even Joss Whedon respects the religion of character more than some people.

But I do try to get my head around this concept or having no religion. Are we now in a position where everyone is supposed to have one, monotonal thought process of Atheism? This is, of course, excluding the idea that Atheism itself is a religion. If you don’t believe me, go out and meet the anti-theist branch sometime (THE IDEA OF GOD IS EVIL AND SO ARE THEIR FOLLOWERS), instead of the more libertarian branch (“I don’t believe, and I don’t care if you do. Next”).

I’m sorry, but I’m generally open to all ideas and all thought processes. I read Eric Flint, atheist Communist. I read John Ringo, Recovering semi-Catholic. David Weber and Timothy Zahn, who are both ministers, if I recall correctly. John and Jagi Wright. Richard Paolinelli, who believes in God, and it’s in his books. Larry the Mormon Correia.

Seriously, in order to pull something like that, I can only conclude one would have to be some sort of anti-religious SJW-zealot who hates religion in general. They’re the only ones closed-minded enough to be offended by a character who might even have a religion.

I mean, good God, congratulations, there goes Dracula, by Bram Stoker. That had the Eucharist! They’re Catholics involved! OMG! I can only conclude that this is particularly painful to read.

Even Die Hard has religious Catholics. The McClanes! It’s directly referenced in movies 1-3. Congratulations, that’s enough to be hated by this sort of person.

And anyone who hates Die Hard simply and absolutely HAS NO SOUL.

I’m sorry, wrapping my brain around a secular universe makes my brain hurt. This is in defiance of all basic cultural anthropology. Despite statements made by random philosophers, there has not now, nor has there ever been, in the history of the world, a society that is purely secular or atheistic. The closest we get in America are Deists among the founding fathers, but  that list also includes Reverends, so that’s an interesting conversation. The first person who cites Thomas Jefferson will have to justify every contradictory statement Jefferson ever made, and citing the Creator in the first line of the Declaration of Independence.

But religion is a thing. It is a part of any society. Ancient Greeks made being an atheist a capital crime — if you didn’t pray to Athena in Athens, you obviously didn’t have the interests of the city at heart, and you had to go.

Now, granted, sure, I’ve had some people make books that are religious message fiction. That, of course, can be problematic. Because message fiction is message fiction, no matter the message. The problem isn’t necessarily the message — Hell, I like the “save the whales” film, Star Trek IV, but that’s because it was funny — but the execution of story, plot and characters …. usually, that there is little to none of any of the above. But one cannot lump that in with Narnia, or Rachel Griffin or anything by John C Wright has written. To do so is BS.

Heck, even my novel, A Pius Man: A Holy Thriller (The Pius Trilogy) (Volume 1) has religious characters in it … a Jew, a Muslim, a half-dozen Catholics. Which one gets hated upon the most? Technically, the story itself isn’t religious, as it centers on a historical element. But there are priests and Popes, and rosaries, and the historical MacGuffin is around the Pope of World War II. I’m certain that’s enough to get those who hate religion to sniff and wave, “move along. Go find your own kind. To the back of the bus with you.”

As Jeffro Johnson pointed out in his Appendix N, religion in fiction goes all the way back into the Pulps, where Christianity can rout the fae, God can be a player. Heck, look at Superversive SF, which is also welcoming to God.

And then there’s SuperversiveSF, the blog. God, faith, and religion are all over the place. You can’t escape it.

And this is why I think that Superversive SF and Jeffro’s Pulp Revolution are probably the future of science fiction and fantasy. There are no gate keeping here. There’s no snobbish, anti-religious bias that I’ve seen. I don’t even think there’s an anti-left bias, as long as one avoids going full SJW, but I could be mistaken.

It’s nice that, among the SVSF / Pulp folk, there’s an open, accepting atmosphere where even a freak like me can feel welcome.

Illegitimi non carborundum

And, if you’ve done that….

The Dragon Awards are open and ready for nominations, and I have a list of suggestions you might want to take a look at. If you already  have a good idea of what you want, just click here to go and vote for them. The instructions are right there.

This entry was posted in Superversive Story, theology, writing by Declan Finn. Bookmark the permalink.

About Declan Finn

Declan Finn is the author of Honor at Stake, an urban fantasy novel, and nominated for Best Horror at the first annual Dragon Awards. He has also written The Pius Trilogy, to be released by Silver Empire Press. Finn has also written “Codename: Winterborn,” an SF espionage thriller, and “It was Only on Stun!” and “Set to Kill,” murder mysteries at a science fiction convention.

  • jwrennie

    I always chuckle at science fiction fans who are atheists or misotheists. There are no examples in all of human history of a culture that abandons its religious core lasting for very long. They all wither and die because they have lost their will to live.

    Anybody who can look at Europe today or other radically secular parts of the west and conclude we will buck that trend is simply delusional.

    No doubt aliens would be different but you need to care about posterity to survive and at least among humans atheism and secularism empirically doesn’t.