Created By: Dragonmouth on May 28, 2012 Last Edited By: Dragonmouth on March 2, 2013
Troped

Churchgoing Villain

A person who is evil and religious but not evil because they are religious.

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This is a character who goes to church on Sunday but commits immoral acts every other day of the week. This is a person who follows the rituals of religion but performs acts that are clearly against that religion.

One reason a writer might create a Churchgoing Villain is to examine religious hypocrisy. The character often views religion as a set of rituals that he follows out of habit. He rarely applies the teachings of his religion to his everyday life and generally does not think deeply enough to see how irreconcilable his faith and his actions are.

Sometimes the Churchgoing Villain may be portrayed more sympathetically. The image of a human being trying and failing to resist his sinful nature resonates with Christian teachings, which makes this version of the trope more common in Western fiction.

This trope does not include religious extremists. Religious extremists do evil because of their religious beliefs. Churchgoing Villains are religious but their evil acts are not connected to their beliefs in any way. It also does not include people who are members of a Religion of Evil.

Finally, this might be done simply for the sake of realism as a vast majority of the human race belongs to some religion.

As most of the human race belongs to some religion, this is of course Truth in Television. That said, No Real Life Examples, Please!.

See also: Straight Edge Evil, Family Values Villain, Punch Clock Villain, and Raised Catholic.

Examples

Anime and Manga
  • In the Lupin III movies \'\'Castle of Cagliostro\'\', one of the Count\'s henchmen is moved to cross himself when he sees a Catholic church official arriving.

Comic Book

Film
  • The Corleones and other crime families in \'\'The Godfather\'\' were pretty devout Catholics, and ruthless racketeers.
  • Frank Lucas in \'\'American Gangster\'\'. He\'s a drug dealer, gangster, and murderer but takes his mother to church every Sunday.
  • The gangster villains in \'\'The Boondock Saints\'\', who are Catholic and disgusted at the murder of a priest.
  • Mr. Rooney, the villain of \'\'Road to Perdition\'\'. He\'s a gangster but frequently prays in church and realizes that he will not go to Heaven.
  • Moses from \'\'Beyond Reanimator\'\', a religious prisoner who nonetheless succumbs to his cannibalistic urges from time to time.
  • Lt. Kendrick in A Few Good Men.
  • Bill the Butcher in Gangs of New York, or for that matter most of the characters, in one way or another, such as Bill\'s Irish Catholic underlings who stab Amsterdam in the back.
  • John Doe in Se7en.
  • Warden Norton in The Shawshank Redemption.
  • In Nuns on the Run Charlie is a practicing Catholic. Not sure how "evil" that is though; he's a low-level mook in a criminal organization.
  • Predators: Cuchillo and Mombasa are both seen praying at different points in the movie, but the former is a Mexican cartel enforcer and the latter a Death Squad officer in the RUF.
  • Robert Hanssen in Breach

Literature

Live Action TV
  • Eco and Sayyid in Lost are kind of the Anti-Hero version of this, especially if Sayyid were actually any good at torturing.
  • In the TV show OZ, most of the Christian gang is this, especially William Cudney and Timmy Kirk. One is a vindictive child murderer, the other is a complete monster and ex-Irish gangster.

Mythology and Religion

Tabletop Games
  • In the Eberron campaign setting of D&D there's no requirement for clerics to match their deity's alignment. The Church of the Silver Flame in particular has a problem with corruption.

Video Games
  • The mafiosi of FX2. They were finding stolen religious artifacts with the intent of giving them back to the church.

Visual Novels
  • Kirei Kotomine from Fate/stay night, who gets bonus points by actually being an ordained priest, he's not a villain per se, but he is quite and evil person who actually delights in the suffering of others (down to the point that he's also The Gadfly), it doesn't help that the church actually trained him to become a Church Militant exorcist

Western Animation
  • Frollo in \'\'The Hunchback of Notre Dame\'\'. A religious official, he is still governed by his lusts, hatred, prejudice, and revenge and driven to attempted kidnapping and murder. In the original story he is also an alchemist and sorcerer.

Other
  • In the Robin Hood mythos one of the bad guys is an abbot.
Community Feedback Replies: 78
  • May 29, 2012
    Dragonmouth
    Frollo in The Hunchback Of Notre Dame. A religious official, he is still governed by his lusts, hatred, prejudice, and revenge and driven to attempted kidnapping and murder. In the original story he is also an alchemist and sorcerer.
  • May 29, 2012
    Dragonmouth
    The Corleones and other crime families in The Godfather were pretty devout Catholics, and ruthless racketeers.
  • May 29, 2012
    Dragonmouth
    Comment removed -OP
  • May 29, 2012
    TrustBen
    ^ Ha ha ha.

    On that note, this would probably be a good trope for the No Real Life Examples warning.
  • May 29, 2012
    Earnest
    Contrast Religion Of Evil. See also Hypocrite.
  • May 29, 2012
    Dragonmouth
  • May 29, 2012
    Bisected8
    If you don't mind me suggesting a title; Pious Villain might be better (to make it clear that the religious aspects supposed to be positive)?

    This character will probably indulge in As The Good Book Says.
  • May 29, 2012
    fulltimeD
    Pious Villain is a better name. "Religious But Evil" sounds like a protestation, and could be considered too dialog-y
  • May 29, 2012
    Dragonmouth
    In the Lupin The Third movies Castle of Cagliostro, one of the Count's henchmen is moved to cross himself when he sees a Catholic church official arriving.
  • May 29, 2012
    NimmerStill
    If we go with Pious Villian then that ties it specifically to villains; not all evil people are villains. So be careful.
  • May 29, 2012
    Bisected8
    You're thinking of antagonists. An evil person in a work of fiction is a villain by definition.
  • May 29, 2012
    NimmerStill
    Maybe that's the convention in This Very Wiki (I haven't been here that long), but in the film industry "the villain" refers to the antagonist, and not to any evil main character, and especially not to characters capable of both good and evil. The Other Wiki shows "villain" and "antagonist" as basically synonymous. I suppose the existence of the trope "Villain Protagonist" shows what usage is intended here, but such a person is not a villain at all in the industry sense.
  • May 29, 2012
    Dragonmouth
    What about "Pious but Evil"?
  • May 30, 2012
    Bisected8
    Well, Wiktionary and the my copy of the OED both just give the (relevant) definition as "someone who does something bad in a work of fiction". The former (and wikipedia) note that they're usually the antagonist, but don't have to be and the OED just says (following on from a broader definition of "a person capable or guilty of a crime or wickedness"); "(in a play or novel) a character whose evil actions or motives are important to the plot; a pantomime villain." not bringing up the issue of whether they're an antagonist at all.

    Both those two definitions (and wikipedia) support my point; a villain is simply an evil character ("The villain usually is the antagonist" is far from saying the terms are synonymous). If the film industry (which one?) always considers the villain the antagonist, good for them, but those three definitions would indicate that doesn't seem to be the convention for all fiction.

    Besides, I doubt people would have any problem understanding what was meant by villain.
  • May 30, 2012
    NimmerStill
    Wikipedia also says 'A villain (also known in film and literature as the "antagonist," "bad guy", "black hat", or "heavy")', implying synonymy.
  • May 30, 2012
    Dragonmouth
  • May 30, 2012
    Bisected8
    Which goes against the other two sources (one of which is affiliated with wikipedia and the other being...well, the OED). Furthermore, "also known as" doesn't mean that they're perfect synonyms, just that they could be reasonably used most of the time in the same context.
  • May 30, 2012
    NimmerStill
    Either way, a villain has to be completely evil. An Anti-Hero may be partly evil, but wouldn't be considered a villain. So it should be decided how much pure evil the trope is meant to cover.
  • May 30, 2012
    Dragonmouth
    • In the Eberron campaign setting of D&D there's no requirement for clerics to match their deity's alignment. The Church of the Silver Flame in particular has a problem with corruption.
  • May 31, 2012
    Arivne

  • June 8, 2012
    Dragonmouth
    Another suggested title: Even Bad Men Love Jesus

    Also, I'm noticing a lot of gangsters on this list. Maybe Religious Gangster should get its own page?
  • June 8, 2012
    robinjohnson
    The use of "despite" in the laconic description (and even "but" in the title) is possible flame bait - I like Even Bad Men Love Jesus, though equating religion with Christianity might be a problem there
  • June 8, 2012
    fulltimeD
    I really think any title that implies that religious people are or should be expected to be more moral than non-religious people is a mistake and frankly is offensive to the many moral nonbelievers out there. "Religious but evil" might sound like an innocuous title... if you are religious. If you're not religious, however, you don't necessarily equate belief, piousness, or spirituality with morality, and then the title sounds like a slap in the face.
  • June 8, 2012
    fulltimeD
    Am I correct in assuming that characters who belong to anything established in-universe as a Religion Of Evil would not count as examples of this trope? IE, the Guardian in "The Tribe" was a villain and a Sinister Minister of a violent, oppressive cult (The Chosen) that worshiped a fallen warlord. He shouldn't count as an example of this trope because the religion he espoused embraced violence, slavery and coercion as its highest values.
  • June 8, 2012
    SaltyWaffles
    I don't understand this trope--how is someone less likely to be evil simply by being religious? Even in a setting where there's a Religion Of Evil, "religious but evil" wouldn't make sense.

    In addition, Religion Of Evil would not work with this trope--as being religious does not specifically refer to a particular religion.

    Further, this trope carries a whole slew of Unfortunate Implications. Being religious does not make one more "good" or "bad", even in a setting where gods and supernatural entities exist.

    An evil character that happens to be religious would be a different trope. "Religious But Evil" is saying "evil despite being religious"--which is pure Unfortunate Implications and just plain incorrect.
  • June 8, 2012
    LemonBonBons
    John Doe in Se7en, maybe?
  • June 8, 2012
    Hertzyscowicz
    How about Gangsters In Pews?

    Anyway, I occasionally get the vibe that "church-going" is considered a sign of a generally moral individual in the west. I'm not saying there is any basis for this, or that it is even particularly wide-spread these days, but this might be tropeworthy. Just be damn careful with the unfortunate implications re unbelievers and morality.
  • June 8, 2012
    NimmerStill
    I'm atheist, and I'm not offended by the idea or the name. Most religions preach at least some behaviors that are universally viewed as good, and this trope would be about violating *those* maxims.

    Such as: stealing, unjust killing, victimizing the weak, etc.

    It's not for behaviors that some consider "evil" but are arguably adhering to the religion, such as (YMMV on both evil and adhering) working to keep same-sex marriage outlawed, crusading against unbelievers, etc.
  • June 8, 2012
    raven2785
    Why not use the old biblical idiom for a name: A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing

    Edit: just thought of an example:

    • Kirei Kotomine from Fate Stay Night, who gets bonus points by actually being an ordained priest, he's not a villain per se, but he is quite and evil person who actually delights in the suffering of others (down to the point that he's also The Gadfly), it doesn't help that the church actually trained him to become a Church Militant exorcist
  • June 8, 2012
    JohnDiFool
    Warden Norton in The Shawshank Redemption.
  • June 8, 2012
    Bisected8
    What Nimmer Still said; while I don't equate being religious with automatically being good, most mainstream religions generally boil down to "be nice" (as an atheist, it's people assuming that religion is the only source of morality that bothers me, it clear seems to work for some people). Hence why I thought "Pious" made more sense (since it makes the fact that they're evil despite being religious in a positive manner, rather than being an evil zealot or an adherent to a Religion Of Evil, clearer).

    @raven2785: That's a bit broad a term, isn't it?
  • June 8, 2012
    NimmerStill
    "Pious" works for me too.
  • June 8, 2012
    fulltimeD
    ^agreed
  • June 9, 2012
    LOAD
    Scarecrow's Great Grandmother.
  • June 9, 2012
    JonnyB
    From a believer's POV, I also agree with what Nimmer said, and it might be a good idea to put his explanation in the description.

    I also second a possible second related trope, Religious Gangster.
  • June 9, 2012
    randomsurfer
    • In the Robin Hood mythos one of the bad guys is an abbot.
    • In Nuns On The Run Charlie is a practicing Catholic. Not sure how "evil" that is though; he's a low-level mook in a criminal organization.
  • June 9, 2012
    Shrikesnest
    I actually really like Gangsters In Pews. It gets the point across while avoiding all of the issues that the other names have.
  • June 9, 2012
    TropeEater
    How 'bout Religious Rogue?
  • June 10, 2012
    PaulieRomanov
    Here's another example

    In the TV show OZ, most of the Christian gang is this, especially William Cudney and Timmy Kirk. One is a vindictive child murderer, the other is a complete monster and ex-Irish gangster.
  • June 10, 2012
    Bisected8
    @Trope Eater: That just makes me think of a particularly spiritual Loveable Rogue, personally.
  • June 10, 2012
    Sligh
    As somebody else already stated, being religious does not give you any kind of moral high ground, therefore this trope makes no sense. It's a lot like proposing a trope called "Thin But Evil". It just doesn't have to do with anything.

    If the idea is to list people who are both religious AND scumbags / hypocrites, then this is gonna be a LONG list, since most people are religious anyway...
  • June 10, 2012
    Bisected8
    Notwithstanding what I (and others) have stated in response to that; just because that's the case doesn't mean a work of fiction won't portray it as true, which is what makes it a trope.
  • June 10, 2012
    NimmerStill
    @Sligh, as was countered, that just isn't true. Being religious doesn't *automatically* give you moral high ground, but religions *do* preach a moral code, hence there is an inherent contrast between being devoted to a religion and ignoring moral codes. It does make sense, and a lot more than "thin but evil".

    And obviously it's not for the most people who are religious in Real Life, but for people who are portrayed in the work as being both particularly religious and particularly evil.
  • June 11, 2012
    Sligh
    Religions DO preach a moral code. Whether this moral code is mostly good or mostly evil is open for interpretation (I'd particularly lean on mostly evil most of the time, but that's just my opinion and it's also a gross generalization).

    My point is: Why should it be expected of a work to portray someone religious as particularly good (or evil)? And if it should, why is it so?

    My point is that this definition is just arbitrary or rather, specifically conservative. It's as if I'd propose a trope called "Religious, But Reasonable". It just sounds less 'weird' duo to the way society is currently organized. Your title is starting from the preconception that religion is something good or desirable. And that has Unfortunate Implications.
  • June 11, 2012
    Speedball
    Oh, man, I know, Derek Sagan from this one... semi-Star-Wars-like outer space soap opera book. He's the book's Darth Vader analogue, having hunted down most of the other Blood Royals who can wield lightsabers and use magic mental powers, but he also regularly performs his rites as an ordained priest of a religeon that he himself helped to outlaw.

    I just can't remember the name of the book!
  • June 11, 2012
    Arivne
    ^ @Speedball: Derek Sagan is from the The Star Of The Guardians series by Margaret Weis. The books in it were:
    • The Lost King
    • King's Test
    • King's Sacrifice
    • Ghost Legion
  • June 11, 2012
    robinjohnson
    Even if you don't agree the title is offensive (it is), you can at least see from this discussion that it's severe flamebait.

    Pious Villain gets rid of the 'but', and doesn't imply that 'pious' and 'villain' are opposites.
  • June 11, 2012
    nitrokitty
    Yeah, the Unfortunate Implications are bothering me a bit. Especially the "in spite of" bit, which implies that being religious makes somebody virtuous, and religious values are always good. I think religion and virtue are two completely separate things, so this trope doesn't make much sense to me.
  • June 11, 2012
    NimmerStill
    This is severe Political Correctness Gone Mad. It's quite clear what the trope means: people who *most people* can agree are evil, because of behaviors *most people* would agree are bad behaviors, despite adhering to a religion that prohibits *those behaviors*.

    And yes, most mainstream religions do advocate against behaviors that are universally considered evil. (Secular views on morality do too, but that's not the point.)

    If that part's up for grabs, then evil in general is too, and we might as throw every The Villain or The Hero based category into YMMV, as well as every An Aesop trope, etc.

    That said, "Pious" is fine too, but since that's already been said, what's with the continued arguing?
  • June 11, 2012
    NimmerStill
    Also, don't forget, the relevant question is whether this is a trope *in the media*; that is, is it often enough that this is portrayed by the media as a contrast; is it a subversion of a general expectation, also in the media, that religious characters will be generally good, or at least inoffensive. Again, the answer is yes.
  • June 11, 2012
    surgoshan
    • The mafiosi of FX 2. They were finding stolen religious artifacts with the intent of giving them back to the church.
  • June 11, 2012
    Sligh
    No, this is not Political Correctness Gone Mad it just looks like it because we've lived under Nations that were either explictly non-secular or just implicitly so for to long. I'd also like to point out that:

    1- *Most people* believing in something (such as that some specific behavior is good or bad) does not make it so. Specially when more Genre Savvy people might disagree.

    2- *Most* mainstream religions advocate against behaviors that are *universally* (not so universally as conservatives might think) considered evil as much as they also encourage behaviors that are *universaly* (again, not so universally... but universally among the people that I'll call libertarians duo to the lack of a better term) considered evil.

    So in the end this assumption hides a political prejudice, as much as my "Religious But Reasonable" trope(and mind you, it would even be an usefull entry from my point of view...) would. But I don't presume to create it, because I don't want to create Flame Bait OR allow Unfortunate Implications to take place.

    3- As for the other tropes dealing with good or evil... I might very well dispute some of these if it comes to that. And most An Aesop trope are already considered YMMV.

    And the arguing is continuing because you refuse to understand the prejudice against secular thinkers that your title implies (and thus change it and be very carefull when writing the entry).

    PS: The current entry looks a bit christian-centric to me, when you say "fornicates". Not all religions presume to restrict your sexual freedom, yoy know?
  • June 11, 2012
    jatay3
    It is a tendency of religions have sexual rules whether or not all of them do and they are often reasonably similar. Nothing "christian-centric" about it.
  • June 11, 2012
    robinjohnson
    Also, if 'fornication' is one of your examples of evil, you haven't thought this through. If 'evil' is supposed to be a non-religious, univerally-agreed evil here, you couldn't have picked a worse example: "sexual morality" is probably the area of morality that secular and religious thinkers differ on the most.
  • June 11, 2012
    NimmerStill
    @Sligh, you address my posts as if I'm the sponsor. I'm not. Check the names more carefully.

    1. When it comes to good and evil, especially in the media, *most people* believing it had better make it so, because there's no other criterion that you can base it on.

    2. As I said above, my understanding of the trope is that it simply *does not apply* to those behaviors that religions encourage but which are considered either. That still does not diminish the applicability of the trope.

    And the correct analogy is not to "religious but reasonable" but to something like "scientific but irrational", since science specifically encourages rationality the way religion encourages (what it considers) good behavior. "Religious but reasonable" wouldn't work no matter what your prejudices, because religions don't specifically encourage unreasonable behavior.

    And as I said before, I am a secular thinker who does not perceive a lick of prejudice from the title. Plenty of alternatives have been proposed, so your continued argumentation against one particular point is indeed puzzling.
  • June 11, 2012
    Blork
    ""Religious but reasonable" wouldn't work no matter what your prejudices, because religions don't specifically encourage unreasonable behavior."

    Believing in things based on faith, arguments from authority based on scriptures, ritual behaviours. You may argue as to how "unreasonable" these things are, and individual religious people vary on how much they follow them, but that's the point people have been making about this title. "Religious But Reasonable" works - you just need to start with the assumption that religion in general is unreasonable, in exactly the same way that the current title needs to start with the assumption that being religious somehow makes you a good person.

    "Pious Villain" on the other hand gets the message across clearly without making it sound like there's some sort of inherent contradiction in the idea of someone being pious and a villain, and also without sounding too much like the character is doing evil because of their religion.

    Also, an example: The closest thing to a Big Bad in Bastion is A missionary who betrays the protagonist and tries to destroy the Bastion after learning that the Caelondian government caused the Catastrophe.
  • June 11, 2012
    NimmerStill
    "in exactly the same way that the current title needs to start with the assumption that being religious somehow makes you a good person. "

    Except that it doesn't need to assume that at all.

    I don't care if it gets changed to "pious", but let's keep the record straight. The trope does not need to assume that being religions makes you good. If it did, how could there be exceptions at all? It only needs to assume that there is a perceived contrast between being religious and being bad, which there clearly is, because religons *preach* that you should be good.
  • June 11, 2012
    Dragonmouth
    OP here. I've altered the description by adding the following.

    "This trope is about people who do evil things and are religious but do not do evil things because of their religious beliefs."
  • June 11, 2012
    Sligh
    Nimmer, you are seemingly just distorting Bjork's argument now. OF COURSE not even the most biased religious bigot could assume that EVERY religious person is good (or at least I hope so).

    What Bjork actually said is that "Religious But Evil" implies that religious people tend to be good, are mostly good or somehow have a higher moral ground or something along these lines. And that's very questionable.

    The exact same way "Religious But Reasonable" would implie that religious people tend to be unreasonable (which although in my opinion is true to an extent is far from something that should be said or implied within a trope), but not that ALL religious people are unreasonable (otherwise it couldn't really make any real sense and would be just People Sit On Chairs within the realm of its on distorted point of view).

    I do think that there's a trope here somewhere, one that's free from such blatant religious bias. But the current title is plainly full of Unfortunate Implications. And the current discription is similarly biased in equating "chaste" to "moral" and/or speaking as if all religions preached this.

    Also...

    0 I apologize for mistaking you for the OP.

    1 Yes, there is. Qualified opinions will always be more relevant than Wild Mass Gessing. That is why I'd like a lawyer to defend me if I ever get charged of something instead of just uniting all the people I know and have them vote for which defense is the better one. But either way, my point is that the trope shouldn't make any assumption about religion being good or evil.

    2 That's not really that clear-cut. You can't fix what's fundamentaly wrong with the trope by saying "if you don't think this is evil, then it doesn't apply".
  • June 11, 2012
    Sligh
    My take on this trope would be something along these lines:

    PIOUS VILLAIN (or Religious Villain)

    "A character who is both extremely religious and extremely evil."

    Generally religion is not central to characterization in most media, be it because it is Serious Business, because the author wish to avoid a Broken Base or just because most authors usually just use socio-political matters as background unless the work is specifically ment as social, religious or political comentary.

    But sometimes authors WILL include religion as a very fundamental part of the characterization of a cast member. When this happens, this could be used to reinforce how moral and devoted to his faith a character really is or - specially in more contemporary works - as a way of showcasing and explaining the tenents of some specific religious background, without necessarily make a statement about it.

    There is, however, an alternative to both of these. Sometimes, the religious character will be extremely imoral and do all kinds of nasty stuff. This trope is about when a character is depicted as both very religious and very willing to Kick The Dog. This is not your regular The End Justify The Means Knight Templar. This is reserved only for the most vicious Hypocrites.

    This trope can be invoked for several reasons. It might be that this is just a character trait ment to showcase and enhance some villain's evil motivations and willingness to lie and deceive, but this could also be the author making political comentary, criticizing some specific (real or fictional) religion, religion as a whole or rather how religions are structured in a particular setting. If poorly executed, this could turn out to be just a Straw Character.

    If you're wandering what might be the case for the use of this trope in some specific place you should probably look at how MOST religious people are portrayed instead of just the more vicious or pleasant examples displayed on the work.

    This trope does not cover religious extremists. This trope is about people who do evil things and are religious but do not do evil things because of their religious beliefs.

    For obvious reasons, No Real Life Examples Please for this trope. Also, remembering the Rule Of Cautious Editing Judgment is never a bad thing.
  • June 12, 2012
    nitrokitty
    ^ I like the hypocrisy angle. Also, consider that some evil characters may follow a religion strictly (barring a Religion Of Evil of course) as some sort of selfish attempt at "redeeming their souls" or some such. For example, they might think that even though they go around kicking puppies all day, they're still a "righteous soul" in the eyes of the Lord, so it's fine. Naturally, this is hypocrisy of the highest order, and serves to make the character look worse. Nothing's nastier than someone who goes around doing evil deeds, then spends Sundays praising love, friendship, and devotion.

    And for those who don't understand where the secularists in this argument are coming from, let me try to put it in perspective. The title "Religious But Evil" implies that the default state of religion is goodness and virtue, and therefore the lack of religion is non-virtuous and bad. This may seem like a stretch to you, but it's a VERY common stealth prejudice attitude against secularists, hence the Unfortunate Implications.
  • June 12, 2012
    NimmerStill
    @Stigh, that sounds quite reasonable, and I like your reworking. It can probably be combined judiciously with Dragonmouth's description. The hypocrisy angle is indeed what I was getting at. Although with this trope, the hypocricsy is not often specifically pointed out; people don't tend to specifically call the mafia don out on violating the 5th commandment when they order a hit, or the 6th commandment when they sleep around. But the hypocrisy is still there.

    A couple of points though. First, your #1, good vs. evil is emphatically not the same as the law. The law much more clear-cut, laid out explicitly by fiat authority. So the analogy to an expert lawyer doesn't apply. Although even there, your ultimate fate is indeed usually decided by vote, albeit not by people you know, but by people you are supposed to not know, i.e. the jury.

    1. 2, It's not "if you don't think this is evil, then it doesn't apply", it's that if the evil is actually condoned by the religion, it doesn't apply. (That's a different trope, Religion Of Evil.)

    And third, I don't think I distorted Blork's argument at all. He said that the trope assumes that religion "makes you good", and that's exactly what I disputed. But I'd dispute it on your wording too; the trope does not even need to assume that religions people *tend* to be good, or have a moral high ground. It only has to assume that there's a perceived contrast between being religious and being bad.

    Finally, @nitrokitty, assuming that it does imply that the default state of religion is goodness and virtue (which I still think the trope description doesn't imply), why would it therefore follow that lack of religion was non-virtuous and bad? There is no logical connection there.
  • June 12, 2012
    Sligh
    I'm aware the hypocrisy is not always specifically called out neither my description was ment to make it appear so. Sorry if it comes across as that. I simply tried to rework the trope on a more detailed and less biased way.

    1- Yes, the law is much more clear-cut and yes, the analogy is not perfect. But I'd still rather have an expert painter to make me a picture or an expert writer to write me a story and so on. Also, the tribunal of the jury is very rarely used outside of anglo-saxonic cultures. On my country (Brazil to whom it may concern), for instance, it is only used for intentional crimes against life. But that's beside the point.

    2- You see, "if the evil is actually condoned by the religion it doesn't apply" might be very problematic because I might or might not agree with some specific tenent of a religion and, even if I do, religion do not tend to be clear-cut to the point that I could automatically say if something is or not condoned by it.

    For instance: "religion X disapproves killing" but a character kills in the name of it. Can I automatically apply the trope? Then about 99% of all religious characters would qualify and I guess that's not what we are aiming for here. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to write in all these religious characters as hypocrites (specially since, ultimately, they are to some extent), but that's serious Flame Bait, so I'd like the trope not to have this breach.

    That is why I think it must be changed to apply only to VERY EVIL and VERY RELIGIOUS people who are not evil BECAUSE they are religious (at least not directly because) AND ALSO directly go against their own religion, DESPITE what judgement we make of the religious tenents in and of themselves.

    Finally: The current title DOES clearly imply that the default state of religion is goodness and virtue. AND although it does not AUTOMATICALLY mean that the lack of religion is non-virtuous and bad from a logical standpoint, it does lead people to that conclusion. People who WILL fall victim to the exactly logical fallacy you are pointing us to. SPECIALLY when this is already what most (or at least a VERY significant number of) religious people believe to be true in Real Life.
  • June 12, 2012
    NimmerStill
    I didn't mean to imply that you implied (hehe) that the hypocrisy was always called out. I just wanted to point out a contrast between this and general hypocrisy.

    @1, Fair enough.

    @2, second paragraph, I think that would be a different trope. Not sure which.

    I agree about your restriction to very evil and very religious.

    @Finally, I still disagree about the "default state" thing; I still say all it implies is that religious people are *supposed* to be good and virtuous, or at least try to be, and as you said, this trope is probably for people who don't even try to be.

    You're right about people often falling victim to that logical fallacy, but why not teach them not to?
  • June 12, 2012
    Sligh
    Fine, I'll settle for "it implies that religious people are *supposed* to be good and virtuous" but I also believe this is not something that should be implied either. What it COULD imply (because it's actually very close to a non-objectable truth) is that religions have tenents and their followers are expected to follow them. Let's leave the moral judgements about said tenents for the viewers.

    It's also not a problem if the trope implies or outright states on the discription that most people consider religion to be good, because it's also (sadly) truth.

    I think we should teach people not to fall victim to that (or any, really) logical fallacy, but it seems to me that the current title enforces it, rather than correct it.
  • June 12, 2012
    NimmerStill
    We could leave it at the idea that *among* the tenets followers are expected to follow are universal-ish morals such as not stealing and not killing, and it is *those* that characters falling into this trope violate.

    And yes, the reason why this is in fact a media trope is because many people, i.e. the viewers, view it as an exception to a general idea that religious people are good, while they may really not be.

    As for the logical fallacy, why not correct it somewhere in the description, something like "of course, in addition to the fact that this is Truth In Television (plenty of religious people are evil), the converse is also true (plenty of non-religious people are good)"?
  • June 12, 2012
    Sligh
    Well, then if we got a religion that doesn't explicitly says something against killing or stealing (most of the ones we have today do, but the same ones didn't in the past and we must also account for fictional religions and so on...) the trope would not apply?

    No, I mantain that my previous wording (VERY EVIL and VERY RELIGIOUS people who are not evil BECAUSE they are religious AND ALSO directly go against their own religion, DESPITE what judgement we make of the religious tenents in and of themselves) as the less biased and Unfortunate Implications free.

    Your wording has the aditional problem of not accounting for atheists or detractors of specific religions adding characters that follow some religions simply because they don't follow every little rule (specially since in most real religions this is virtually impossible as there are all sorts and contradctions and so on...).

    FALLACY: We could and should very well correct the fallacy on the description, but not all people will read the description, specially if they know what the trope is by the title (which would be a sign that we got a good title anyway), so it is better if the explanation comes along a non-biased title (for example "Pious Villain").
  • July 11, 2012
    Dragonmouth
    Changed the name to "Churchgoing Bad Guy." This is meant to avoid more value-loaded descriptors like "religious" or "pious."
  • July 11, 2012
    fulltimeD
    ^That's a much, much better title
  • July 12, 2012
    Nithael
    I think many mafia or gang members are examples of this.

    • Predators: Cuchillo and Mombasa are both seen praying at different points in the movie, but the former is a mexican cartel enforcer and the latter a Death Squad officer in the RUF.
  • July 12, 2012
    Cider
    In Jewish Tradition, Asmodeus.

    Would that fall under Mythology, Religion and Folklore or Literature?
  • July 12, 2012
    moriwen
    Robert Hanssen in Breach (and his real-life counterpart).
  • July 12, 2012
    Blubble
    This trope is interesting in that the opposite is quite frequent. If a character is evil and an atheist, his or her evilness will be portrayed as closely linked to their lack of belief, at least in American cinema.
  • July 22, 2012
    Nekojin
    The trope confuses me a little bit. Would Cardinal Richelieu from The Three Musketeers be a good example, or not?
  • July 22, 2012
    captainsandwich
    Cider, My understanding is mythology is a term for religions not in use anymore. Mythology is the study of myths or a group of myths. People might annoyed/offended if you call their religion a myth, on account of the word being synonymous with fiction, especially if they sincerely believe their religion. If the Asmodeus thing was by word of mouth until recently it would best go in folklore or religion. If it was written down a long time a go it would go into Literature or religion. If Mythology tag is combined with another category like how religion and folklore are in your question, I think people would more likely let it slide.
  • July 22, 2012
    captainsandwich
    Is this trope related to Punch Clock Villain cause I have a feeling there is going to be a bit of overlap?
  • July 26, 2012
    pospretrito
    Captainsandwich, "Mythology, Religion and Folklore" is all one category, IIRC.

    I think this trope is interesting and distinct enough to merit an article, although it is probably going to be a fairly common trope (I got here via someone saying Mexican narcotraficantes would apply...?).
  • July 27, 2012
    TBeholder
    so... "religious" or "church-going"? =)
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=bwuggb5ll6003vmhna6h85sh&trope=ChurchgoingVillain