This trope happens often in series where the main villain is TheFundamentalist, but the author doesn't want to imply that ReligionIsWrong or BeliefMakesYouStupid. Instead, a sympathetic character is shown as being religious, but as rejecting the flaws of the religious villains, such as corruption or intolerance. The hero may call out the villain's restrictive or intolerant doctrines, and say that [[GodIsGood God/the gods/Cthulhu would be ashamed at what is being done in their names]]. Often done by TheHeretic and accompanied by phrases like "[[JesusWasWayCool Jesus wants us to love everyone.]]"

Done well, it's an aesop about how people are people and there is a fundamental core of reasonable humanity in every institution. Done poorly (usually because the sympathetic character is blatantly incorrect in his knowledge of relevant scripture, making him more offensive than TheFundamentalist to true believers) it can read as a weak attempt to not lose a substantial number of readers who may be religious.

Compare TheHeretic, TurbulentPriest.


[[folder: Anime & Manga ]]

* One of the running themes in ''LightNovel/ACertainMagicalIndex''. The titular character even has a magic song, Sheol Fear, that specifically causes those who put dogma before morality to go temporarily insane when they hear it.
* Yukariko in ''Anime/MaiHime''. Throughout the series she constantly struggles between her devotion to God and the man she ends up falling in love with, Ishigami, who in fact goes out of his way to verbally acknowledge the fact that he's just using her to gain the power of [=HiME=]. She eventually decides to give up being a nun in favor of simply being a GoodShepherd, and at the end of the series is even shown as being pregnant with Ishigami's (whose cleaned up his act) child, scolding the other [[NunTooHoly much less pious]] girls who took up being nuns her place.


[[folder: Fan Works ]]

* A major theme of the second part of Fanfic/AngelOfTheBat is whether one can love God and love a system of worship that they openly acknowledge feels contradictory. [[spoiler: Considering the writer is an idealistic Roman Catholic, the answer is yes.]]
** A sad but hopeful version of this is the cornerstone of the story's [[ShrugOfGod ambiguously canon]] second epilogue: [[spoiler: The both Catholic and bisexual Cassandra Cain declares God wouldn't want her to pretend to not have a life with the woman she loves. Cassie asks her girlfriend to marry her, saying that even if the Catholic church rejects them, they can't take away her belief and love of God.]]
** The story's sequel, ''Times of Heresy'', deconstructs the concept in its presentation of minor antagonist, radio Evangelist Cameron Gram. Gram argues that this idea is appealing because EvilIsEasy and people forget that while GodIsGood, GoodIsNotNice. Cassandra herself wants to continue appealing to the trope, but finds she doesn't have a good answer for why she should know better than a man who has clearly been practicing Christianity much longer than she has.
* In ''FanFic/SonicXDarkChaos'', this trope is typically the primary difference between the less-evil religious characters and the really evil religious characters in general. However, [[AuthorTract since the author despises religion]], it's [[CrapsackWorld depressingly rare]].
** Jesus in particular embodies this trope - [[FridgeBrilliance which isn't all that]] [[ShownTheirWork different from his biblical depiction]]. Most of his fellow Angels avert this though.


[[folder: Film ]]

* The plot of ''Film/{{Saved}}'', which contrasts selfish, hypocritical belief with honest, genuine piety.
* ''Film/{{Dogma}}'': The whole point is that following the dogma gets you into trouble, but faith is what gets you out of it. Rufus comments that Jesus is kinda ticked off about being used to justify "Wars, slavery, [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking televangelists]]", and Serendpity comments that faith is more important than belief. Add to that the fact that even the fallen angels lampshade the fact that the rules change over time and that it's the rules set down by mankind, not God, that creates the potentially world-destroying loophole.
* In the original version of ''Film/TheWickerMan1973,'' when the protagonist, a dogmatic, virginal conservative policeman, and a young cop see graffiti spelling out "Jesus Saves," the young cop comments approvingly of it while the protagonist demands it be wiped clean.


[[folder: Literature ]]

* In ''Literature/ABrothersPrice'', Princess Ren is religious, and argues in favour of the traditional system of sororal polygyny but points out that "nowhere in the holy book does it say we should treat boys like property". The heroic characters are also critical of the religious taboo on adoption, and it is unclear whether that taboo has any proof in scripture, or whether it is just a tradition.
* Nickie rejects the absurd restrictions set by Mrs. Beeson on behalf of ''Literature/TheProphetOfYonwood'', but she still believes God is good and would honor people's differences instead of marginalizing them.
* This happens in Creator/MadeleineLEngle's books a lot. For example, in ''Literature/ASwiftlyTiltingPlanet'' the Llawcae family is devout but hates the witch-hunting Puritans like Pastor Mortmain, and Ritchie Llawcae refuses to build a scaffold to hang the 'witch' because he says Jesus would never have done so either.
* Dorry Stevens in ''Leaving Fishers'' by Creator/MargaretPetersonHaddix, who rejects her old creepy Christian cult but still believes in God and values religion, as opposed to fellow escapee Zachary, who literally says that religion is evil.
* In ''Literature/JustElla'' by Margaret Peterson Haddix: Jed Reston, the son of Lord Reston, priest to the king, says state religion is all "smoke and mirrors" and has nothing to do with true faith.
* In Chris Crutcher's novel ''Literature/StayingFatForSarahByrnes'', the liberal Rev. Ellerby is contrasted with the uptight and hypocritical Christian Mark Brittain.
* Friar Tuck in the RobinHood mythos is a 'good' religious foil for the villainous Bishop Hereford.
* Aramis's devotion to God is contrasted in ''Literature/TheThreeMusketeers'' with the conniving Cardinal Richelieu.
* This is a recurring theme in Katherine Kurtz's ''Literature/{{Deryni}}'' novels, because members of the Christian hierarchy claim that Deryni are evil by nature (hence justifying persecuting them), but a schism eventually occurs within the Church when some clerics, led by Cardiel and Arilan, dispute this assertion. Things get complicated when some few Deryni discover they have Healing abilities and as everyone knows Christ healed. A rebel leader who has been attacking mages' estates and tenants (particularly those of a certain Deryni duke) is forced to confront this when he gets a demonstration of Healing; Cardiel [a human bishop] is there to emphasize the contrast between the religion and some of its self-styled followers. Later, a guilt-stricken and self-hating Deryni [King Kelson's mother, Queen Jehana] has her anti-Deryni religious indoctrination overcome by Deryni clerics Arilan and Father Nivard. It's important to note that the Deryni are true believers, at least in part because of the evidence of experience. They sometimes perform rituals for powerful workings that summon beings taken to be angels (and specifically named: Raphael, Gabriel, Michael and Uriel). They mostly see coloured light and fleeting impressions of wings, and of course they could be mistaken or rationalizing their experiences, but they do believe. It also helps that their powers are triggered by an altered state of consciousness akin to meditation or prayer. Human Queen Richeldis suggests that Deryni may be above ordinary humans and just below angels on the [[ Great Chain of Being]].
* ''Discworld/SmallGods'' has Om discovering that his "followers" believe in the organization, hierarchs, high exquisitors, prophetic texts, rituals... anything but Om himself. Since GodsNeedPrayerBadly, this means he ended up starved into near-oblivion by his own church and doesn't even have enough juice to perform the only miracle he wants now -- which is, obviously, braining the guy currently responsible for this state of affairs.
* ''Literature/TheBible'':
** In Old Testament times, the main problem was that people were making new (often more lenient) rules that violated the old dogma (for example, allowing idolatry), and the true prophets were standing up for the old order. In the case of idolatry, the people were not putting God before Dogma, so the true prophets had to straighten them out.
** In the New Testament, Jesus accuses the scribes and Pharisees of being {{Rules Lawyer}}s and missing the Law of Love. When they criticize him for healing a man on the Sabbath, as working on the Sabbath is against Jewish law, Jesus responds its never against the law to help someone (this is accepted by Judaism currently-no law comes before saving a life).


[[folder: Live Action Television ]]

* In the ''Series/{{CSI}}'' episode "Alter Boys", Grissom tells a Roman Catholic priest who suggests that he should start attending Mass again that whilst he [Grissom] believes in God, he doesn't accept the doctrine of the Church, and that too many people have died for particular interpretations of religion. Word of God confirms that this was intended as a comment on 9/11, which had recently taken place at the time the episode was made.
* On ''Series/MadMen'', when the priest tells Peggy that she should repent before nuclear war breaks out (during the Cuban Missile Crisis), Peggy answers that she can't believe God would be so cruel as to condemn her to hell just because she had an affair with a married man.
* The nuns of ''Series/CallTheMidwife'' care far more about helping their poverty-stricken patients than about passing judgment on them. This also combines with SaintlyChurch.
* ''Series/{{Tyrant}}'': Season 3 introduces a moderate Islamic faction aiming to elect their own candidate in the upcoming presidential election of Abbudin that opposes both the Al-Fayeed dictatorship that has reigned for decades and the radical insurgency led by the Army of the Caliphate.


[[folder: Music ]]

* The ''Music/WithinTemptation'' song "The Truth Beneath the Rose" describes a warrior who slaughtered in the name of his religion, only to face SanitySlippage at all of the lives he has taken. In spite of his faith and UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans being what ruined him, the song is spent begging God for forgiveness.


[[folder: Tabletop Games ]]

* Called out several times in ''TabletopGame/InNomine'', where religions are mostly seen as a "human thing," given to mankind as a way to approach the God that the angels already know to worship. Even the few Archangels that explicitly prefer a particular religion (Catholicism for Laurence and Dominic, Islam for Khalid and Zadkiel) still acknowledge that worthy contributions can be made by those of other faiths. By contrast, the Demon Prince of Factions, Malphas, *loves* fine points of dogma ...
--> '''Novalis, Archangel of Flowers''': Every human religion since the first boils down to just two principles: Behave and don't hurt each other.


[[folder: Video Games ]]

* ''VideoGame/BreathOfFireII'' ([[RageAgainstTheHeavens funnily enough, given the general tone of the series]]) sends out this message. The institutionalised religion of [[BitchInSheepsClothing St. Eva]] is an ObviouslyEvil CorruptChurch. The faith of the Dragon God Ladon, however, is much looser, much less-organised and full of much nicer people. The follow-up game even reveals that Ladon is something of a ChaoticGood god who isn't too fussed about ''how'' his people worship him - just so long as they do unto others, stand up for freedom and equality and protect the world from giant evil demons posing as gods.
* In ''VideoGame/DragonAgeII'', GoodShepherd and BadassPreacher Sebastian will take this view if he's convinced to side with the Mages: stating that Andraste and the Maker don't want their [[TheChurch Chantry]] to be used to imprison and torture the magic-users of the world.
** Leliana is this in the [[VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins first game]]. Chantry dogma holds the Maker to be remote and uncaring about human suffering. Leliana believes the Maker can be found in the beauty of the world, and takes an active role in bringing an end to the Blight.
* It's ambiguous but still implied in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyTactics''. While the main villains are members of a CorruptChurch, there are a few hints of benevolent divine intervention scattered around the game.
* This happens quite a lot in the ''VideoGame/TalesSeries'' and often gets paired with GodIsGood.
** In ''VideoGame/TalesOfEternia'', the Church of Seyfert is inept at best; although this is less a result of the actual church's failings and more to do with the fact that the country's political system is run by an assholishy judgemental king. Seyfert himself, however, is such a cool dude that not only does he ''give'' you the [[InfinityPlusOneSword Infinity Plus One Skills]] to defeat the BigBad - he even ''congratulates'' you in the ending [[spoiler:and casually breaks the laws of physics to save the heroes from certain death just because he likes them]].
** In ''VideoGame/TalesOfSymphonia'', the Church of Martel is quickly revealed as a CorruptChurch [=/=] PathOfInspiration. However, [[spoiler:Martel herself after she becomes the Spirit of the World Tree]] is a kind and benevolent force who only wants to protect the world.
** In ''VideoGame/TalesOfLegendia'', the [[spoiler:Ferines]] want to use the power of their god Nerifes to wipe out the [[spoiler:Orerines]] as vengeance for years of persecution. The Quiet Nerifes, however, doesn't want this to happen - being appalled by the idea of so much slaughter - and guides the heroes into making sure it doesn't.
** In ''VideoGame/TalesOfTheAbyss'', the Order of Lorelei started out as a SaintlyChurch founded by Yulia Jue, who is basically a gender-swapped UsefulNotes/{{Jesus}}. Fast-forward to the present day and it's become very corrupt - with its leaders perfectly happy to let the world fall into ruin BecauseDestinySaysSo. As it happens, this is ''not'' what Yulia or the Sentience she worshipped - Lorelei - wanted. [[spoiler:Their use of recording the Score, the prophecy that dictates fate, was not to control humanity but to show the world that the planet was going to end if it followed the Score to the letter. As such, the heroes ''and'' the villains end up working together (in different ways) to create a world of free will. The heroes do this so well that, in the ending, Lorelei ''praises'' the protagonist.]]
-->[[spoiler: '''[[GodIsGood Lorelei]]:''' [[CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming You have done admirably]].]]
* In ''VideoGame/{{Xenoblade}}'', Lady Meyneth is a kind and benevolent deity who only wants the best for Mechonis and Bionis. Her disciple Egil, however, thinks that she's not going far enough to defend their world and becomes the WellIntentionedExtremist KnightTemplar BigBad of the game.
** Note that her archrival [[spoiler:Zanza]] is a stereotypical GodIsEvil BECAUSE of this trope: he is fixated on creating dogma (primarily, "don't fuck off into space or you're all dead") instead of reigning over his followers because it enslaves his creations to him, rewarding them when they obey and wiping them out when they don't. According to an observer, there was a way for a god of evil and a god of good to coexist, but [[spoiler:Zanza]] chose absolute control over open-minded worshipers and must be fought.
* In ''Franchise/DeadSpace'', there is one, single Unitologist in the franchise who is devout in his beliefs yet a calm and reasonable person: Engineer Samuel Irons. He makes an appearance in ''Dead Space: Downfall'' helping to calm down a group of Unitologist crew members shirking their work and demanding to be allowed to worship the Marker, basically by saying "Guys, StopBeingStereotypical, calm down, and do the work you promised in your contracts you would do. [[ShamingTheMob Are you civilized people or are you savages?]]" He does ask to be allowed to worship the Marker himself, but when told no he just smiles and walks away without complaint. He later helps fight the Necromorphs, not believing for a moment that they are the salvation that his religion has promised.


[[folder: Webcomics ]]

* In ''Webcomic/RiceBoy'', The One Electronic [[ rejects]] the "perfect, solid God" that he was taught about as a child, and believes that the being who sent him on his quest to find TheChosenOne is not God but an imposter. But T-O-E still believes in God.
-->'''T-O-E:''' There is some powerful mystery between all of these perfect, solid things... and that is my God. My God is what I don't know.
* Timothy/Camellia in ''Webcomic/ButImACatPerson'' spent several of his teenage years in a cult focused on one of the series' resident {{Mon}}s, and as an adult considers himself a Catholic with a strong aversion to any imposition of one person's dogma beliefs on another.


[[folder: Web Original ]]

* MrDeity is appalled by the contents of the Bible.