Created By: TheMuse on January 26, 2014 Last Edited By: TheMuse on July 18, 2014
Nuked

Ambiguously Christian (Needs more hats)

A character performs Christian customs, but their religion is never explicitly mentioned

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Trope
Due to prevalence of the White Male Lead trope in popular media, a majority of main characters are at least 'Christian acting' if not explicitly Christian. Ambiuously Christian characters may mention celebrating Christian holidays such as Christmas or Easter (especially if they happen to be Santa Clausmas or Easter Bunny Easter) reference to a Fluffy Cloud Heaven or Fire and Brimstone Hell, make some non-specific prayers to a 'higher power' or give some indication of believing or even mentioning a monotheistic (nearly always male) God, especially if he is of the Grandpa God interpretation. (variations on phrases such "The Big Guy" or "The Man Upstairs" are sometimes used) but explicit mentions of Jesus Christ (or other religious figures such as the Virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit, saints, etc.) are not used.

This is often used in media where religion is not a major focus (and could distract from the plot) or in media intended for children, as religion could be a bit too complicated for younger kids to understand and even controversial.

Compare/Contrast Crystal Dragon Jesus, where the religion is explicitly not Christianity, yet still holds elements commonly associated with it. Compare Jesus Taboo. Ambiguously Jewish is the Jewish version of this.

Examples

Comic Books
  • Superman is often portrayed as being a Christian—which would make since, considering that he was raised in a traditional American home in rural Kansas. However, in recent years, most writers tend to only imply this and leave it as ambiguous as possible.
  • Captain America has been a devout, albeit secular, Christian in the comics from day one. But this isn't the case in the movies.

Film
  • In The Nightmare Before Christmas, holidays such as Christmas and Easter are mentioned, but they are portrayed in a Santa Clausmas fashion. Particularly notable considering a overwhelming majority of the 'holiday trees' Jack finds in the woods are Christian holidays, the two exceptions being Thanksgiving and Independence day. Jack mentions God once or twice during the song 'Poor Jack' but it's done in a way that is exclamatory rather than overtly religious.
  • In Man of Steel, Clark explicitly asks his father at one point "Did God do this to me?", referring to his unique powers and abilities. Later on, he chooses to visit a priest for advice on how to handle General Zod. According to Word of God, it's heavily implied that Clark was raised Lutheran.
  • In The Avengers, when Black Widow refers to Thor as a god, Captain America, tells her, "There's only one god ma'am, and I'm pretty sure he doesn't dress like that''. Given the time period he was raised, it's heavily implied he's referring to the Christian God.
  • Frozen features Elsa's coronation being performed by a man who is dressed very much like a Christian bishop. Another scene features a portrait of the saint Joan of Arc and is outright described as such, but any details about her are not elaborated upon. Despite this, the closest the movie gets to mentioning religion is Elsa exclaiming "Heaven knows I've tried..." during the song "Let it Go."
Film

  • Bruce Almighty. Grace is a variation of this. She clearly believes in God, and the power of prayer, as she carries around a strand of prayer beads, and prays to God every night (mostly for Bruce), which Bruce ends up listening to while he still has God's powers; however, any indication of her actually being a Christian are never really brought to life

  • In This Is the End, Jay is non-ambiguously Christian, but when supernatural things are confirmed to exist, they are ones that are very Christianity influenced. The movie includes Horny Devils, The Exorcist style exorcism and a Fluffy Cloud Heaven.

Literature
  • Harry Potter.
    • The wizarding world celebrates Christianity-influenced holidays such as Halloween, Christmas and Valentine's (but in a secular way) and their big hospital (St. Mungo's) is named after a saint, but no one ever mentions/goes to church or mentions what religion they are.
    • James and Lily's grave has a Bible quotation on it. ("The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" from 1 Corinthians 15:26) But it's never identified as such in-universe and still isn't a huge indication of their religion.
    • Harry also has a god father, but his role is intended to be "raising Harry after his parents die" and is not described as 'raising Harry in the Christian faith"
  • The woodland creatures from Redwall live as a religious-type order (an abbey with an abbot/abbess, various characters referred to as brother/sister, a church named after a saint, etc). However, a supreme being is never even mentioned, let alone any sort of denomination.

Live Action TV
  • Star Trek: The Original Series. Captain Kirk's famous line to the alien impersonating the Greek god Apollo in "Who Mourns for Adonais?":
    "Mankind has no need for gods. We find the one quite adequate."
  • Marshall from How I Met Your Mother seems to be Christian. He celebrates Christmas, says Grace at family dinners, and an argument with his wife about whether they should teach their children about Santa was used as a stand-in for whether they should teach religion. However, he's never shown attending church and when he's referring to a higher power it's always "The Universe" not God.
  • Drop Dead Diva features the protagonist going to Fluffy Cloud Heaven and meeting angels (a concept not exclusive to Christianity) However, any concept of God other than a 'higher power' kind of thing is never mentioned.
  • Joan of Arcadia features the main character repeatedly communicating with a monotheistic God (that takes many forms) There isn't much description of Joan's faith or the details of God beyond that. One recurring character has Informed Judaism however.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place features mythical creatures such as 'angels' (which aren't exclusive to Christianity) but they are portrayed as secular beings. There is a bit of a subversion, however, as a viewer may see the St. Gabriel candles in the lair, and Max mentions that they go to church in one episode. Considering that they are explicitly an Italian-Hispanic family, they are most likely Christian if not Catholic.

Western Animation
  • As with a majority of other animated shows for children, Fairly OddParents plays this straight, Santa Clausmas is celebrated along with Easter Bunny Easter. Cosmo and Wanda are explicitly referred to his 'Fairy Godparents' though, but without any religious connotation.

Music
  • Not Christian Rock that doesn't explicitly mention Jesus Christ, etc. but has elements of Christian spirituality (such as biblical references) often falls into this trope.

Real Life
  • Truth in Television. Celebrating Christian holidays is pretty common in Real Life even if one is not religious/non-theistic but lives in an area where the population is mostly Christian and/or the person was raised in a Christian sec
Community Feedback Replies: 108
  • January 26, 2014
    Larkmarn
    Name doesn't make sense; they're explicitly Christian, but it's the denomination that isn't clear.

    That said, I do think "well, they seem Christian but it isn't explicitly stated" seems more tropeable. Usually I find their denominations are either explicitly stated or fairly clear. Most of the time I see the mixing of practices is when a non-religious character is trying to fit in.
  • January 26, 2014
    lexicon
    1. The example needs to say what Quinn and Joe are from.

    2. This needs straight examples to show that it's a pattern. Catholic characters are not uncommon.
  • January 26, 2014
    TheMuse
    I've changed the title and edited the description a bit
  • January 26, 2014
    Tzintzuntzan
    Do we have the supertrope for religion as an Informed Attribute? I know we have Informed Judaism, but we don't (I assume) have the supertrope that would cover both that and this one (which are distinct enough to be subtropes).
  • January 26, 2014
    AP
    Comicbooks

    • Spider Man is heavily implied to be Christian. His family gravestones are often shown with protestant crosses on them and he has made comments about God in a manner that implies both that he believes and that he is referencing the Judeo-Christian god. In fact, in The Infinity Crusade, he is alongside other heroes who profess a particular belief system.
    • Night Wing has also been implied to be a Christian. Sometimes a Bible is seen in his bedroom or he makes similar comments as Spider-Man mentioned above. Word Of God has admitted he is a Christian but it has yet to be explicitly stated in the comics.

    Film
    • Like his comic counterpart, Spider Man is implied to be a Christian in that Aunt May is seen specifically reciting the Lord's Prayer in the firt movie. Since Peter is very close to his Aunt and views her as a moral figure in his life, it's likely he shares her beliefs. In the third movie, he tells Eddie Brock that if he is seeking forgiveness (for fraud), he should "find religion".
    • In The Avengers, when Black Widow refers to Thor as a god, Captain America, reminds her, "There's only one god ma'am, and I'm pretty sure he doesn't dress like that''. Given his time period and ethnicity, he is likely referring to the Christian god.
  • January 26, 2014
    StarSword
    ^Nothing implied about Captain America. He's been a devout, albeit secular, Christian in the comics from day one.

    Live Action TV:
  • January 26, 2014
    DAN004
    Maybe Ambiguously Christian would work better?
  • January 27, 2014
    Arivne
    ^^ That episode aired 46 years ago, and the show has been syndicated everywhere. Nothing in the show is spoiler-worthy today.
  • January 27, 2014
    KingZeal
    • Superman is often portrayed as being a Christian—which would make since, considering that he was raised in a traditional American home in rural Kansas. However, in recent years, most writers tend to only imply this and leave it as ambiguous as possible.

    • In Man Of Steel, Clark explicitly asks his father at one point "Did God do this to me?", referring to his unique powers and abilities. Later on, he chooses to visit a priest for advice on how to handle General Zod. According to Word Of God, it's heavily implied that Clark was raised Lutheran.
  • January 27, 2014
    Larkmarn
    • Marshall from How I Met Your Mother seems to be Christian. He celebrates Christmas, says Grace at family dinners, and an argument with his wife about whether they should teach their children about Santa was used as a stand-in for whether they should teach religion. However, he's never shown attending church and when he's referring to a higher power it's always "The Universe" not God.
  • January 27, 2014
    xanderiskander
    These "ambiguous X" type of tropes seem to primarily be caused by Audience Reactions to me,and Audience Reactions aren't tropes. It's also rare that characters in the work or the creator indicate that it's supposed to be ambiguous. Plus most of the examples on these kinds of pages are highly debatable anyway, so it would pretty much have to be a YMMV page.
  • January 27, 2014
    Larkmarn
    This isn't an audience reaction, and I fail to see how these examples are debatable. At it's heart, this is very straightforward: the character does Christian-y things, but is never explicitly identified as Christian.
  • January 27, 2014
    xanderiskander
    ^ And I fail to see how "does christiany things but is not stated to be christian" is tropeworthy. How can you be sure that's not just incidental? Plus a lot of these would all but pretty much outright confirm the character is in fact christian. Like Nightwing which has Word Of God confirming he is. Meaning it's not ambiguous. So if it's not really ambiguous is the only requirement for a character to be listed here that they practice christian traditions, but not be stated in-universe to be that? Again how is that a trope?

    And an audience reaction can also be an opinion of something in the work that is not fully indicated in the work. This is basically caused by people putting missing pieces together from lack of information, and coming up with their own interpretation of the character.
  • January 27, 2014
    Larkmarn
    That's still not an Audience Reaction; it'd be closer to a Trivia item.
  • January 27, 2014
    xanderiskander
    ^ The Audience coming up with their own interpretation of a character's background is Trivia? It's very similar to Fanon. Sounds like an Audience Reaction to me.
  • January 27, 2014
    Larkmarn
    It's not Fanon because it's the writers skirting around the issue to keep their protagonists as generic as possible. It is a choice on their part. However, like you said it's going to be very tough to prove their intent without explicit Word Of God.
  • January 27, 2014
    TheMuse
    Title and description has been edited and examples have been added.
    • I don't understand why this can be considered particularly subjective though. There's plenty of people in Real Life or otherwise that do "christiany things but is not stated to be christian" things, especially considering the effect Christianity has had worldwide.
  • January 27, 2014
    DAN004
    So what, does it mean we should move Ambiguously Bisexual, Ambiguously Human etc and move it to YMMV? Lol :P

    Though yeah, things like official mentions are crucial in these kind of tropes...
  • January 27, 2014
    AP
    ^Nothing implied about Captain America. He's been a devout, albeit secular, Christian in the comics from day one.

    Maybe for the comics but not the movie, which implies Captain America is a Christian but does not say it.
  • January 27, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ Wait, who are you referring to?
  • January 27, 2014
    StarSword
    ^Me.
  • January 28, 2014
    Arivne
    Compare Ambiguously Jewish, which is the Jewish version of this.
  • January 28, 2014
    TheMuse
    Examples have been added + formatted
  • January 28, 2014
    SKJAM
    • Harry Potter: The wizarding world celebrates Christianity-influenced holidays such as Halloween, Christmas and Valentine's, and their big hospital is named after a saint, but no one ever goes to church or specifically mentions what religion they are.
  • January 29, 2014
    StarSword
    Since Tropes Are Flexible:

    Literature:
    • Variation: In The Privateer by SM Stirling and James Doohan, General Scaragoglu makes an offhand reference to "God and His Prophet", with the implication that he's a Muslim. This is the only hint we get to the religion of anyone besides the Mollies.
  • January 30, 2014
    TheMuse
    ^I'm not sure if that can be considered a straight playing of the trope.
  • January 30, 2014
    Bisected8
    The Harry Potter example isn't really accurate; a bible passage on Harry's parents' grave is a minor plot point, since Harry doesn't recognise it and assumes its got something to do with the Death Eaters until Hermione corrects him. To be more exact, it's 1 Corinthians 15:26;
    "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death."
  • January 30, 2014
    StarSword
    ^^Hence flagging it as a variation.

    Another possibility: I think this might be more usable if expanded into a supertrope for Ambiguously Jewish.
  • January 30, 2014
    DAN004
    Ambiguously Devout or something?
  • January 30, 2014
    StarSword
    ^Ambiguously Religious would be more accurate, but yeah.
  • January 30, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    Ambiguously Religious would be a good name for the supertrope of all "Maybe the character believes X". Ambiguously Christian is probably still splitable from that.

    ^x4 - Unless you're arguing that every Christian has memorized every line in the New Testament (meaning Harry cannot be a Christian), or that people who aren't Christians cannot quote scripture (meaning his parents must be Christian), I don't know why you disagree.
  • January 30, 2014
    TheMuse
    ^Ditto, and even if you took the use of a Bible quote meaning the Potter's were Christian, that still doesn't say anything about any of the other characters in the series.
  • February 2, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    "Characters who have been confirmed by Word of God to be explicitly non-secular Christians, Non-Theists or belonging to other religions do not count. "

    Why? Ambiguously Jewish doesn't have that requirement.

    Random thought, Ambiguous Religions may be a better name for the supetrtrope, as it would be indexing the specific religion subtropes as well as listing examples of religions that lacked a trope page on their own.
  • February 2, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ I support that.
  • February 2, 2014
    crazysamaritan
  • February 3, 2014
    Arivne
  • February 3, 2014
    TheMuse
    Much thanks ^^crazysamaritan and ^Arivne
  • February 3, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    I'm still curious about why you have this:

    "Characters who have been confirmed by Word of God to be explicitly non-secular Christians, Non-Theists or belonging to other religions do not count. "

    That sentence means if Word Of God stated a character was a religious Christian, they are no longer an example. If a character doesn't believe in the Christian god, they are no longer an example. So... This trope then doesn't apply as long as there is any Word Of God on the character's faith. Ambiguously Jewish doesn't have that requirement and allows Word Of God to confirm or refute the example without nullifying the example.
  • February 3, 2014
    TheMuse
    ^You're right. I took it out
  • February 8, 2014
    TheMuse
    Any other examples?

  • February 20, 2014
    Piwah
    The draft says the Jewish version is Ambiguously Jewish, so this trope would logically have to be called Ambiguously Christian to fit in with the other "Ambiguously" tropes. This is a good idea for a trope though, I can think of plenty of examples already.
  • February 20, 2014
    TheMuse
    Added more examples
  • February 20, 2014
    TheMuse
    ^^Good point, fixed it
  • February 20, 2014
    ShiningwingX
    Compare/Contrast Crystal Dragon Jesus, where the religion is explicitly not Christianity, yet still holds elements commonly associated with it.
  • February 21, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    This is often used in media where religion is not a major focus (and could distract from the plot) or in media intended for children, as religion could be a bit too complicated for younger kids to understand. This can also be done in a setting where Christianity technically doesn't exist, but there is a Fantasty Equivalent with customs and holidays (such as the equivalent of Christmas and such) particularly similar to Christian ones.

    Compare/Contrast Crystal Dragon Jesus, where the religion is explicitly not Christianity, yet still holds elements commonly associated with it.
    Those ideas can be merged. CDJ covers explicitly "not"-Christian
  • February 21, 2014
    TheMuse
    fixed
  • February 24, 2014
    fulltimeD
    I really don't get this. I mean, if you're watching a movie scene on a bus and some old ladies genuflect as the bus starts moving, that's a pretty clear sign they're Catholic. There's nothing "ambiguous" about it just because they're not wearing tee-shirts proclaiming their Catholicism.
  • February 24, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    Catholics aren't the only people that genuflect.
  • February 24, 2014
    oneuglybunny
    Film
    • Alex Owens from Flashdance visits a confessional twice in the course of her story: the first time is perfunctory, but the second visit has Alex in tears as she struggles with performance anxiety (no, not that kind) and self-doubt. Alex also works as an exotic dancer at Mawby's bar as a way to practice her dance moves.
  • February 25, 2014
    hbi2k
    I'd be careful with examples in which the only evidence that points to a character being "ambiguously" Christian is that they celebrate Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter which have been pretty well secularized in the Western world.

    As a rule of thumb, if you wouldn't find it odd for your atheist friend to do it, it probably doesn't count as evidence of this trope.
  • February 26, 2014
    TheMuse
    ^^Confession in an explicitly Christian (Catholic, specifically) tradition. It would be extremely strange for someone who wasn't at least 'raised' Catholic to go to confession.
  • February 26, 2014
    Lakija
    ^However, Hollywood treats confession as just a plot device. Usually any old Joe Shmoe can just walk into church on any day and walk in the booth and start confessing regardless of their religion or what day of the week or time of day it is.

    That's the way it seems to me, although I don't really know much about confession in real life.
  • February 27, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    It isn't that easy in real life, although it is supposed to be easy for Catholics.

    US law allows for all religious figures to conduct confession, and the information confessed cannot be used in court.
  • March 1, 2014
    TheMuse
    ^^Technically if one knew when confessions were held in a particular parish (regardless of their religion), they could just waltz into the church during that time, go into a confessional, confess, do penance (which can vary) and leave. (I say this as someone who was raised Catholic)

    I'm still not sure whether or not the act of going to a confession would make someone Ambiguously Christian or not...
  • March 1, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    I think the correct answer to this particular conundrum is to see if "Goes to Confession, but nothing else religious" is tropable.

    If it is, then Confession isn't an indicator of Christianity. If it isn't, then we know Confession is proof the character is Christian (of some denomination).
  • March 1, 2014
    DAN004
    So for the Christian around here: Do you have to be Christian to confess?
  • March 1, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    Legally, no: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priest%E2%80%93penitent_privilege

    What "confession" means in each religion varies: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confession_%28religion%29

    Use of a Confessional (what Hollywood often uses to show the character is seeking penance) is used by only certain sects of Christianity: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confessional

    As far as requiring that the penitent be of the same religion, that gets pretty muddy. Generally speaking, there's no explicit restriction against it. A number of Christian values can be interpreted as allowing it. But it technically falls to the individual Priest to make the decision.
  • March 2, 2014
    TheMuse
    So, who thinks that a character should be considered 'Ambiguously' Christian for the act of going to confession?
  • March 2, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    Like I said, I think the correct answer to this particular conundrum is to see if "Goes to Confession, but nothing else religious" is tropable.
  • Film

    • Bruce Almighty. Grace is a variation of this. She clearly believes in God, and the power of prayer, as she carries around a strand of prayer beads, and prays to God every night (mostly for Bruce), which Bruce ends up listening to while he still has God's powers; however, any indication of her actually being a Christian are never really brought to life - in fact, she and Bruce have lived together, and it's implied they regularly have sex, for five years, which Christianity views as fornication, which is a sin.
  • I think the examples should just be moved to the Ambiguously Religious You Know That Thing Where. No point in having both.
  • March 5, 2014
    TheMuse
    ^Last time I checked, Ambiguously Religions had only 1 or 2 (at the most) examples and a couple people had suggested that it could be Too Rare To Trope. I don't understand why making a merged Ambiguously Religions page would make sense if 95% of the examples are Ambiguously Christian.
  • March 5, 2014
    TheMuse
    ^^^I'm pretty sure only Catholics use 'prayer beads' (rosary) but that can be chalked up to the writers not doing the research. Also, some religious sects have little taboo against premarital sex (and even contraception) and even many people who belong to religions where fornication is a sin don't abstain from premarital sex because A. they don't actively practice it and/or B. they just don't care.
  • @ The Muse I don't really want to drag this into a side-discussion and such, but to clarify, they weren't real rosary beads, they were just a strand of plastic beads that her daycare kids had made that she used for prayer beads (arts-n-crafts, y'know). And yes, I'm painfully aware many people out there who belong to Christianity, or others religions for that matter, don't abstain from premarital, or even extramarital sex, though that's pretty much a sign of the times of today's decayed and corrupted society, but I digress.
  • March 5, 2014
    DAN004
    ^^ Moslems also use rosaries, FYI.
  • March 5, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    The name is "Muslim", and no, they don't use "rosaries". The term "Prayer Beads" is accepted non-denominational, whereas "Rosary" is a strictly Catholic (or Catholic-like) tool.

    Muslims use "Sibha", 33 or 99 beads. Rosaries are 5 + (five sets of )10. Seeing a character with "Prayer Beads" or a "Prayer Rope" is a good indication of religious-mindedness, but a poor indication of any specific religion.
  • March 5, 2014
    randomsurfer
    ^^^There are Christian denominations for which premarital sex is no big deal. I'm guessing that you're not from one of them. Please don't enforce the stereotype that all Christians (or all "real" Chirstians) believe that premarital sex is a sin.
  • March 6, 2014
    TheMuse
    In that case, yeah, I guess Bruce Almighty could be seen as a bit Ambiguously Christian (the established religion of the setting as well) considering it uses the monotheistic God interpreatation and some Christian references.
  • March 6, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    ^^ the troper suggesting the example claimed fornication is the sin, which even fewer denominations agree with. There's a number of references to suggest that Bruce Almighty features the Christian god, but only a monotheistic god is explicit.
  • March 6, 2014
    TheMuse
    ^So it could be considered an example of the trope?
  • March 6, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    Probably, if we're willing to accept that a singular "God" or nonspecific "Creator of the Universe" doesn't automatically mean the Christian God is confirmed. Generically Christian, however, would serve for cases where the Christian god is confirmed, without a specific denomination being determined.
  • March 6, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ In any case, it creates ambiguity, right? :P
  • March 6, 2014
    TheMuse
    Added the Bruce Almighty example
  • March 13, 2014
    TheMuse
    Any other examples?
  • March 19, 2014
    TheMuse
    If no one has any other examples, i just need hats, right?
  • March 19, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ depends...
  • March 19, 2014
    IndirectActiveTransport
    The ambiguously religious You Know That Thing Where still has non Christian examples all the same. There is no practical reason to make a page just for Christianity at this time.
  • March 23, 2014
    TheMuse
    As I've said before, the YKTTW Ambiguously Religious page only has 2 valid examples. Having a page for Ambiguosly Religious that is literally 95% Christianity and only 2 exceptions to that seems kinda pointless. I think Ambiguous Religions other than Judaism and Christianity might be Too Rare To Trope
  • March 23, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    Four examples, if you count the pages it indexes.
  • April 6, 2014
    TheMuse
    It has since been discarded though
  • Franchise
    • M*A*S*H. Both Frank and Margaret fall into this trope. In both the original novel and the original movie, Frank, in particular, is portrayed as being a religious fanatic: he constantly prays aloud in the Swamp (much to the annoyance of Hawkeye, Trapper, and Duke), reads The Bible constantly, and if somebody dies in the hospital, it's because it was God's plan (that, or a nurse or an orderly didn't do their job right). However, Frank is clearly an offender of one of the Commandments: Thou shall not commit adultery, as evident with his ongoing affair with Margaret, despite being married; in fact, he tells Margaret he's sure that God brought them together. This is also carried over into the series as well, but moreso in the first season, where Frank is frequently seen reading his Bible during his downtime, but afterwards, any indication of his being religious are few and far between. In fact, later during his time on the series, he implies the only reason he goes to church is to kill an hour; his denomination is stated in one episode as being Presbyterian. Margaret is a far more ambiguous example: it's never made exactly clear as to whether or not she's a religious or spiritual person, and although it's implied occasionally that she is, it doesn't seem to stop her from sleeping around with any able-bodied man of higher rank she can get into bed with.
  • July 3, 2014
    Madrugada
    This was in no way shape or form ready for Launching, The Muse. I've unlaunched it.

    You need to address all of the objections that have been made, and not just by saying "I disagree."

    Frank in MASH is not an example. Frank is explicitly Christian. He's also a liar, an adulterer, and a hypocrite, but there is no ambiguity about what his religion is. The same things that are said about Margaret can also be said about every other character in the show as well.
  • ^ So I take it that Daddy Rich from Car Wash wouldn't count either, as at one point, he threatens physical harm on Abdulah if he wasn't a Christian man, and although Daddy Rich is a televangelist, he doesn't preach about God or Christianity, he preaches about money, riches, and prosperity.
  • July 4, 2014
    Statzkeen
    Don't understand all the motions to discard this one. It clearly needs work, but it's also clearly a trope. I agree with Madrugada, "Is a religious guy but does bad things" isn't this trope; it's really not even close.
  • July 4, 2014
    DAN004
    We already have "Is a religious guy but does bad things".
  • July 4, 2014
    f1shst1x
    Another literature example:
    • The woodland creatures from Redwall live as a religious-type order (an abbey with an abbot/abbess, various characters referred to as brother/sister, a church named after a saint, etc). However, a supreme being is never even mentioned, let alone any sort of denomination.
  • July 4, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    Note: How To Write An Example: Examples Are Not General - there should be no "general" section. Tropes are used in specific works.
  • July 11, 2014
    TheMuse
    Revised again
  • July 12, 2014
    TheMuse
    General has been removed and examples have been added.
  • July 16, 2014
    bejjinks
    I'm a Christian and I agree with the consensus, this trope is poorly defined and described. Most people will assume that anyone who has a moral foundation "must be from my religion". Superman was never ambiguously Christian. He may have been ambiguously patriotic fighting for truth, justice and the American Way but his moral fiber was never religious.

    If we are going to have an Ambiguously Christian trope, it needs to be one in which other characters express an uncertainty about the religion of so and so. If it is only the audience or reader expressing such an uncertainty, it is probably just a case of wishful thinking such as, "I wish Superman was a Christian so I could use him as an example for my Sunday School class."

    If we define Ambiguously Christian as I suggest, than it can include the opposite as well, characters who are explicitly Christian but behave in such a way that you wonder if they really are who they explicitly say they are. Then we could include examples like Klingor from MASH who explicitly is a Christian and even when a woman suggest he have an affair, he answers, "I'm not that kind of guy." However, even though he is explicitly Christian, he cross-dresses, drinks, gambles, gets in fights, and uses magical amulets.

    I happen to read an article about Jamie Farr, the actor that played Klingor, in which he spoke about the difficulty of being a Christian in real life while the creators of MASH kept pressuring his character to be as unchristian as possible.
  • July 16, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    "Most people will assume that anyone who has a moral foundation "must be from my religion"." — That's not actually true. Try asking a Muslim if they think Superman/Clark is probably a Muslim.

    Why do you say Klinger is explicitly Christian instead of implicitly Christian?

  • July 16, 2014
    hbi2k
    ^^ I think you raise a good point: being moral and upstanding should not be sufficient for a character to be an example. However, I don't think it's necessary for other characters to wonder about their religion, just for there to be some other ambiguous evidence for their possible Christianity

    Example: Captain America's "there's only one God, ma'am" line in the Avengers. He could have been talking about Allah or Shiva or the Force, but since he's a white American, we assume he's not. We're not sure that he's Christian, but it's a reasonable assumption. He's Ambiguously Christian, not solely because he's moral and upstanding, but because he's moral, upstanding, expresses a belief in God, and was raised in a culture in which Christianity is the predominant religion.
  • July 16, 2014
    bejjinks
    Klingor specifically calls himself a Christian on a few occasions besides the fact that he is more involved in the church than just sitting in the pew. It is often Klingor that Father Mulcahy turns to for help when Father Mulcahy is going through a spiritual conflict.

    Saying most people does not imply people from most religions. Many Christians make the assumption. Some Atheists make the assumption such as assuming that Galileo or Einstein were Atheists when in fact, Galileo was a Christian and Einstein was a Deist. In some sects of Hinduism and Buddhism, it's a foundational tenet of their belief that all people are Hindu or Buddhist. This means that out of the 7 trillion people on Earth, most make the assumption that the good guy "believes the same way I do".
  • July 16, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    ^ Re: Klingor- Okay. The only religious stuff I can recall offhand is his "secret" Lebanese spirituality that he started using after nearly giving up on the dresses.

    "Saying most people does not imply people from most religions": I'm not sure what you're trying to argue here. But you've correctly identified why we are proposing these "ambiguous" tropes. The trick is to identify when it is reasonable for a nonChristian to assume a character is Christian. Captain America (MCU version) is an example of that type.
  • July 16, 2014
    bejjinks
    But would you agree with me that Superman is not ambiguously Christian or can you give me better examples of why anyone should reasonably assume Superman is a Christian. I'll accept Captain America's reference to one God as being ambiguously Christian but as far as I know, Superman never said anything similar. Or is the assumption that any good person raised in Kansas must be a Christian?
  • July 16, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    Which Superman are you asking about? Comic book Superman? He has, in the past, been made explicitly Christian, but the writers tend to leave it out more and more. In Man of Steel, as already in the draft, when he looks for advice on handling Zod, he goes to a priest. We have Word Of God for Jonathan raising Clark as a Lutheran.
  • July 16, 2014
    DAN004
    Damn, I guess examples would be highly dependent on context. Which, I believe, will be prone to interpretation and misuse.
  • July 16, 2014
    bejjinks
    ^This is exactly what I'm referring to. This trope needs a clear description to reduce interpretation and misuse. What makes something Christian behavior?
  • July 16, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    An uncountable number of traits are Christian behaviour. What makes something Jewish behaviour?
  • July 16, 2014
    bejjinks
    ^In that case, might Ambiguously Jewish be referring to Jewish nationality instead of Jewish religion. See many people of Jewish nationality are not of the Jewish religion. As far as I know, there is no such thing as a Christian nationality. Some try to claim that American nationality is the same as Christian nationality but if you look at the statistics, American Christians make up only a small percentage of total Christianity.
  • July 16, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ "Jewish nationality"? You mean Israeli?
  • July 17, 2014
    Arivne
  • July 17, 2014
    bejjinks
    No, I mean people of Jewish descent regardless of what country they live in. Like the Costanzas of Seinfeld may be of Jewish descent but there is no hint of any kind that they are of the Jewish religion. It is very easy to have a mixed nationality such as all the African-American nationality or the Mestizo nationality but nationality is not a matter of what country you live in. Nationality is a matter of who your closest relatives are. The larger the nation, the more nationalities living within it.
  • July 17, 2014
    hbi2k
    ^^ I think maybe you mean "Jewish ethnicity," which is to say "identifying as Jewish by upbringing or culture, but not currently practicing the Jewish religion." The adjective form would be "ethnically Jewish," as in, "Jerry Seinfeld is ethnically Jewish but does not practice the religion."

    "Nationality" typically refers to citizenship or place of origin. The Costanzas of Seinfeld do not, as far as we know, originate from or hold citizenship in Israel, which (AFAIK) is the only nation with Judaism as its state religion.
  • July 17, 2014
    randomsurfer
    re Klinger, there was one episode which used a throwaway joke where everyone in the operating room prayed before a delicate surgery, including Klinger.
    Fr. Mulcahey: Klinger? I thought you were an athiest?
    Klinger: I gave it up for Lent.
  • July 17, 2014
    bejjinks
    I don't want to argue about the difference between nationality and ethnicity but my use of the word was correct.

    Regardless of ethnic or national Judaism, what makes the Costanzas ambiguously Jewish. They may be ambiguously ethnic Jews, but did they ever give any clue about being ambiguously Jewish in terms of religion? Then when that question is answered, what behaviors should be counted as ambiguously Christian as opposed to ambiguously American.

    Re: Klingor, that is exactly why I think he should be included as ambiguously Christian. In some episodes, he was explicitly Christian. In some episodes, he practiced Lebanese spirituality. And now I learn that in at least one episode, he was explicitly Atheist. I'm not sure this is trope-worthy but if it is trope-worthy, why is Superman an example but Klingor isn't?
  • July 17, 2014
    TheMuse
    If Klingor was characterized as explicitly Christian on more than one occasion, I don't think he fits the trope entirely (or is possibly a subversion)

    I'm sorry if the Superman example doesn't fit the trope very well, I have had a limited exposure to both the comics and movies of the franchise and wasn't able to make an educated decision regarding that.
  • July 18, 2014
    randomsurfer
    ^^^^The Costanzas' religion is never explicitly stated, but George's father is a member of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholics-only fraternal order. Also the Costanza family "Old Country" is Tuscany.

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