Describing Against My Religion Here, unless describing tropes is forbidden by your creed.
Sweating is against several
of my religions!
Being tolerant of one another's religious beliefs is very important, so if someone says something is against their religion, other characters think they can't make them do it. Now that person might be telling Blatant Lies
to get out of doing that thing, but it might be the truth. Other characters are likely not going to press that character about it.
Comes up a lot with someone Raised Catholic
, Good Girls Avoid Abortion
in particular. Of course, in Real Life
, many practices considered common by the majority may be expressly forbidden to people of a particular religious group.
In case of extrovert Serious Business
, see instead Windmill Crusader
, Soulsaving Crusader
, Heteronormative Crusader
, Moral Guardians
and/or Activist Fundamentalist Antics
. See also Culture Justifies Anything
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Anime & Manga
- In The DCU, a member of the Green Lantern Corps took a vow to never leave her planet as part of her religion. Forced to go against this vow during the Sinestro War, she's since returned to her planet and refuses to leave no matter what. Her church, however, has yet to welcome her back. Her sector partner is an atheist and has petitioned many times for a new partner.
- Subverted in Twisted Toyfare Theater. The Thing finds out that he is Jewish by claiming that he cannot work on the Sabbath. Mr. Fantastic checks with his parents to find out that he actually is Jewish.
- In The MAD Book of Revenge, a student gets exempted from a surprise quiz by claiming it's "Simchas Stinkola", a religious holiday on which he's prohibited to write.
- In Demon Knights, the Muslim scientist Al-Jabr is sent to Hell thanks to yet another of Etrigan's betrayals. His version of Hell is a vast desert with a blazing sun, and the only thing available to quench his thirst is a canteen full of alcohol... which is, of course, against his religion.
- Since alcohol can make you thirstier, he's possibly better off without drinking it anyways. However, the demon in question also implies that any water he might come across could magically be transformed into alcohol when he drinks it, which leads to Al-Jabr refusing to drink anything at all while he's in the confines of Hell, even after his tormentor is apparently no longer paying attention to him. It's possible the demon specifically chose this as a double-edged torment of both the body and the mind for Al-Jabr, being already aware of his faith.
Films — Live-Action
- Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves featured Azeem, a Muslim who is forbidden by his faith from drinking alcohol. Friar Tuck doesn't have this limitation.
Friar Tuck: Let us open a bottle and do our best to save each other's souls.
Azeem: Alas, I am not permitted.
Friar Tuck: Fine then, you talk, I'll drink.
- Similarly in Pitch Black Imam refuses to drink liquor for the same reason, even though its the only thing drinkable for the moment. This is not well researched regarding Islam. Imam's position in the film is dire. Plus, he has two children to look after. He was stuck on a desert planet with no other food or water — in Islam, if the situation is dire enough to threaten one's life by lack of halal food and clean (no alcohol) drinks, Muslims are permitted to consume any available meat (meat of a lizard, meat of a dog or pig) or drink alcohol. Just to survive until help comes.
- Lydia in Beetlejuice only gets a C on a science test since she refuses to dissect a frog, citing this reason.
- The Big Lebowski has Jewish convert Walter, who initially refuses to drive to meet The Dude on Friday night because of the sabbath. The Dude reminds him that he was raised Polish Catholic and that he only converted to Judaism for his ex-wife, and Walter's a bit peeved by the implication that he should abandon his religion just because his wife left him.
- Played with in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. C-3PO is mistaken by the Ewoks as one of their gods, so Han asks him to order the Ewoks to let them go. Threepio responds "It's against my programming to impersonate a deity." Later on, though, he does order the Ewoks to let them go, but they don't care... until Luke helps by using the Force to make Threepio "display" godly powers.
- Matewan: The Hutterite conscientious objectors Kenehan met in Fort Leavenworth military prison were imprisoned there because they were religious pacifists who refused to fight, and then tore the buttons off the prison uniforms they were made to wear, since these were also forbidden to them, causing brutal punishment from the guards.
- In 12/12/12, the parents try to refuse a Caesarean on the grounds that it's against their religion, but are overruled by the doctors.
Jokes and Humor
- A lot of Jewish humor from the Borscht Belt period relies on this joke, as Judaism is a religion with a lot of seemingly-pointless prohibitions.
- One well-known joke: A Catholic priest is making fun of a rabbi. The priest holds up some bacon and jokingly asks the rabbi, "Rabbi, do you want some bacon?" The rabbi politely says, "Sorry, but it's against my religion." The priest says, "Are you sure? That's a shame. It's delicious!" The rabbi turns to him and asks, "Father, my regards to your wife!" The priest, stunned, says, "But... but... I'm not married! I can't get married! I'm a priest!" The rabbi smirks and says, "Are you sure? That's a shame. It's delicious!"
- Another joke: A rabbi is walking around the yeshiva (or Jewish religious school) one Sabbath, when he sees three students sitting in a room with the windows open, playing poker for money! The rabbi is outraged, since you aren't allowed to touch money on the Sabbath, and storms in. He turns to the eldest student, demanding an explanation. He says, "I'm sorry, Rabbi! I forgot that you aren't allowed to touch money on the Sabbath!" The rabbi turns to the middle student. He says, "I'm sorry, Rabbi! I forgot that it was the Sabbath today!" The rabbi is finding these excuses hard to believe, seeing as the eldest student had been studying at the yeshiva for years, and the middle student was at Shabbat services that morning. He turns to the youngest student and sarcastically says, "I imagine you forgot something as well." The student mutters, "I forgot to close the windows."
- In the Discworld book Thief of Time, the Auditors are disguised as humans, and avoid being forced to drink tea (where things like eating are harmful to them [it's a long story]) with this trope. The Auditors have noted that people will justify the most extreme behavior on the same basis, so by comparison refusing to drink tea shouldn't raise any eyebrows.
- Moist von Lipwig uses it in Going Postal to avoid getting his picture taken, out of fear his un-memorable appearance, and through it the secret of his criminal past, won't survive a picture. Making Money proves him right.
- In the Assassins' Guild Yearbook, a long list of loophole-filling rules to prevent any attempt by students to have a pet crocodile is eventually forced to concede that none of these rules apply to worshipers of Offler the Crocodile God. Then they add a rule that any student claiming Offlerism will be quizzed on the subject, because religion is not a joking matter. Then they have to acknowledge that, to worshippers of Nog-Humpty the Custard God, it is a joking matter.
- Subverted with Mr. Dorfl. Normally golems like him take one day off a month because it is a "holy day", although they work 24/8 all other times. After gaining his freedom, Dorfl becomes an atheist and gives up this practice because he has decided that "either all days are holy or none are".
- This shows up in some of the Star Trek novels.
- In How Much for Just the Planet? by John M Ford, we have McCoy explaining why he, Sulu, and two Klingons won't Kneel Before Zod (the evil queen Janeka):
McCoy: You see, ma'am, these two gentlemen already have a dictator, it's against Mr. Sulu's religion... and I'm a Democrat.
- In Spock - Messiah! by Theodore R. Cogswell and Charles A. Spano, Jr., the landing party are offered some very suspicious-looking stew which they turn down with the claim that they are religiously forbidden to eat meat on whatever day it currently is.
- In Island in the Sea of Time, one of the protagonists won't prostrate himself before the ruler of Mesopotamia because "it is against our custom, and the law of our god." Possibly a Shout-Out to the Book of Daniel — the speaker is Jewish.
- In Everworld, April, whose Catholicism is regularly mentioned, refuses to make a sacrifice to the Physical Gods of Everworld-Africa. In an interesting twist, atheist Jalil joins her protest on the same logic. (Eventually, David and Christopher side with them, though more on the grounds of "screw these guys trying to tell us what to do" than anything.) Senna is disgusted by all of them, but more because they are putting Honor Before Reason than anything. (She, after all, wants to replace the gods.)
- A Series of Unfortunate Events: In the fifth book, Count Olaf disguises himself as the turban wearing "Coach Genghis" and claims he cannot remove his turban because of his religion. Of course, it's really to cover his single eyebrow, which is one of his identifying features.
- The Sidney Sheldon novel Nothing Lasts Forever has a Jehovah's Witness refusing to sign a consent form for his son to have surgery or receive a blood transfusion and the doctor in question forging his signature to go ahead. Once again, this distorts the truth—people can refuse for themselves but not their children, which means that the doctor could have found a legal means to sidestep his objections. Additionally, while Jehovah's Witnesses will refuse to receive transfusions and transplants, they are not opposed to receiving medical care, meaning that the man would probably have consented to the surgery even if adamant that his son not receive blood.
- In A Wolf In The Soul, Aram convinces Greg to eat a pepperoni pizza, defeating his objections by pointing out that Greg doesn't follow any of the other precepts of Judaism.
- The Ian Mc Ewan novel The Children Act is about a judge who is trying to decide whether a boy with leukaemia should be forced to undergo a blood transfusion which is necessary to save his life, but which he is refusing: he's a Jehovah's Witness, and it's against his religion.
- In The Ongoing Adventures of Ulysses Perhero a man tries to avoid giving Ulysses information this way; it doesn't go well
- Mr. Welch has been told with absolute certainty that Druids are not against his religion.
- In the 2009 Christmas Special of Red vs. Blue, Grif claims to have joined every single religion in the world. That way, he can refuse to do anything, since, according to him, every day of the week is at least one religion's holy day of rest (except for Monday, curiously).
- In one Teen Girl Squad episode, Cheerleader claims that sweating is against several of her religions.
- In the Beavis And Butthead episode "Dumb Design", the boys use this excuse first to get out of learning evolution, and later to get out of math and P.E. class.
- In Futurama, Bender tries to get out of doing work by pretending robot holidays such as "Robonukkah" prevent him from working.
- Hermes mentions that the Planet Express corporation respects Bender's religious freedom to the extent the law requires, but he'd already spent all his allotted days off for Robamadan and Robanzaa.
- Hadji spouts this excuse to the alligators that are attacking him in the Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures episode "Alligators and Okeechobee Vikings":
Hadji: Get back! It's against my religion to be eaten by reptiles!
- In Undergrads, Cody, a slacker, is unhappy that he has an exam on a Saturday.
Cody: Oh man, I can't believe I have to take an exam on... Shhh...abbat.
Jessie: Cody... you're not Jewish.
Cody: That's not the point!
- An episode of Roger Ramjet has Roger coming to the aid of a stand-up comic. Roger is about to deliver a smackdown to Noodles Romanoff and his gang, and the stand-up comic says he'd like to join Roger but it's against his religion: he's a devout coward.
- On The Cleveland Show Roberta temporarily breaks up with her boyfriend Federline because he won't get a tattoo for her. Apparently he's already bought his plot in a Jewish cemetery.note
- For many, this excuse is abused where something technically is against their religion, but they wouldn't be following that stricture (every religion has a few rules that only the real diehards pay attention to) if they didn't dislike the thing anyway.
- Example: A Muslim, Buddhist, Baptist, or what-have-you who has in fact had a drink before and didn't like it might use "it's against my religion to drink" to avoid drinking in social settings, although they hadn't had any compunctions about it before. Granted, someone pushing drinks on everyone else at the party is more likely to leave you alone if you're refraining for religious reasons.
- Conscientious Objectors will do this in Real Life as their reasons not to fight in wars.
- Not ALL of them (there are non-religious pacifists) but the ones claiming religious reasons get their status accepted more easily.
- It doesn't necessarily stop them from going to war either. Some of the most heroic medics in history have been conscientious objectors.
- Alvin York, probably the most famous American World War I war hero, was himself a conscientous objector.
- In Australia, Nat Young tried to register surfing as a religion, in part so that he and other surfers could cite religious objections to avoid serving in The Vietnam War.
- Religiously motivated pacifism in general: Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi both saw violence against their oppressors as immoral for religious reasons, even in retaliation.
- Jack Thompson used this excuse during his disbarment proceedings. The judges didn't fall for it.
- There's a story in which a couple of Muslim diplomats met with Vlad Tepes (Yes, that one), refusing to remove their turbans as they were only required to for the Sultan. Vlad was a vassal of the Sultan by force, so this was a Take That, basically stating "Even though you are the most powerful man in the land we are currently in, you are lowly and deserve none of our respect." Unfortunately for the two of them, due to trying to pull a country with a nonexistent economy to a standing position, the constant threat of war from the Ottoman Empire, the raiding of border towns by Hungary, a staggeringly high crime rate, and the intrigues and plots from unwilling boyars and their crazy family clans, Vlad understandably had a bit of a Berserk Button when it came to respect.
- Any Discordian can claim ANYTHING is against their religion, by virtue of being a Pope. Unfortunately, since everyone is also a Pope, you'll be promptly excommunicated.
- The entire church (a.k.a. human race) was excommunicated within the first few days of the religion.
- Fortunately, they can all de-excommunicate themselves. Unless that would be against their religion.
- It is generally known that observant Jews may not eat pork, rabbit, shellfish, etc. What is less well known is that very observant Jews may not wear garments made from wool and linen because of a Biblical prohibition against it. And those who adhere very strictly to the dietary laws cannot eat anything made in a non-kosher kitchen (which means, among other things, entirely separate sets of cookware, dinnerware, and sinks for meat and for dairy).
- Members of the LDS Church (Mormons) are famous for refraining from smoking and drinking alcohol, coffee, tea, and sometimes even caffeine of any kind. This is often used in media to mark a character as a Mormon. This comes from a piece of Mormon scripture popularly called the "Word of Wisdom", which also advises to use meat sparingly and the consumption of fruits, herbs, and grains. It is considered important enough that following it is a prerequisite for membership and for participation in several programs.
- Jehovah's Witnesses refusal to accept blood transfusions gains occasional notoriety and provides fuel for Medical Dramas.
- They also do not celebrate birthdays—or any other holiday—nor do they pledge allegiance.
- After becoming a born-again Christian, Shawn Michaels would tread carefully when he was part of the WWE's more risque skits. Sometimes they would have fun with this... Triple H blindfolding him before bringing out cheerleaders, being distracted away from girls, reluctantly going through the women's locker room and Eric Bischoff mocking his refusal to do stuff like Katie Vick as against his religion.
- Kirk Cameron displayed similar behavior while working on Growing Pains. Unfortunately, he ultimately came off like a sanctimonious Jerkass—demanding that producers fire an actress who had posed in Playboy, refusing to play anything that implied that his character and his girlfriend were having premarital sex, and outright calling the showrunners "pornographers" due to his objections over the things that they were writing.
- Most Muslims are excused from social dance lessons in schools on the grounds that one should not get that close to a member of the opposite sex with whom you are not betrothed.
- Hindus famously do not eat beef. Some of them are total vegetarians.
- There are also some extremely devout Hindu who don't do cow's milk or dairy for the same reason. This isn't quite as common as refusing beef, through, as milk, yogurt, and butter—particularly the clarified butter known as ghee—are pillars of Indian cuisine and (more to the point) are actually used in Hindu festivals (for instance, the oil in the lamps of Diwali is traditionally ghee).
- U.S. employment discrimination law more or less requires an employer to believe (or at least act like they believe) an employee who says something is against his or her religion. Even if the employer has never heard of the prohibition. Even if the employer has never heard of the religion. note
- Inverted in the case of many atheists and agnostics, who may refuse to do something like say the words "under God" in the American pledge of allegiance - not because it's against their religion, as they may not have any, but because they feel it is a part of someone else's.
- In most schools in the United States, there are mandatory sex education classes. All are required to allow a student to decline them on religious grounds and spend the time in an alternative activity.
- A man in Austria won the right to wear a spaghetti strainer on his head in his drivers licence photo because of his religious beliefs.
- The person is known as Niko Alm and this was more of a publicity stunt. He protested against the "privilege" of Religious people to get their photos taken with various forms of headgear. He got this allowed in the end, because the spaghetti strainer didn't obstruct his face and not based on his belief.
- Commonly attempted by younger kids during Lent, the Christian preparation for Easter, as the tradition is to give something up so you suffer some. Some try to give up vegetables, homework, or school.
- Seventh-day Adventists are known for abstaining from secular activities on the Sabbath (i.e. from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday) according to the instruction given in the fourth of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 (specifically, verses 8-11) and the description of the transition of days from sunset to sunset in Genesis 1. Many also abstain from meat and alcoholic drinks due to this trope; SDA members who do eat meat refrain from eating meats listed as forbidden in Leviticus 11 (particularly pork or pork-made products).
- Scambaiters, people who try to get 419 Scam emails and fool the scammer into thinking he's got a victim, like to use this trope to get the scammer to embarrass himself. Generally, the baiter will claim that sending the requested money to someone outside their religion is forbidden and that the scammer will have to join to get the money. Cue the scammer doing all sorts of embarrassing stuff to join the church, ranging from getting photographed with bread on their head and a bottle of wine in their ear to getting a clown tattoo from Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
- In the US, some pharmacists will give this as a reason for refusing to fill out women's birth control prescriptions. However, most will direct them to one without such beliefs.
- As well, pretty much every contemporary major religion has prohibitions against pre-marital sex. Many virgins (or not so much) use this as a reason for waiting until marriage.
- Some religions prohibit its members from drinking alcohol. Someone who does not belong to this religion, but feels like their peers will not take just a no for an answer may use this as an excuse. People who have other excuses, such as former alcoholism or alcoholism running in their family may use this excuse, as they feel the truth would reflect badly upon themselves
- There are several faiths that oppose vaccination (Christian Science probably being the most famous); in nearly all US states, one can get a religious exemption from mandatory vaccination laws (the standards of proof vary). Another 17 states allow philosophical exemptions, which is the same thing but expanded beyond religion.