Idol worshiping. Many practitioners of Christianity and Islam accuse other religions that use statues or other physical symbols as worshiping the actual object. While some animistic beliefs do so, most religions worship through the statues—not the actual statue.
To make matters worse, those same people claim they're set apart from Pagans since they don't "worship idols," even though they also worship through statues and paintings (i.e. statues of the Virgin Mary, paintings of scenes in The Bible, etc.). The biggest difference between the ways Pagans and Abrahamic faiths worship idols is that Christians see the objects of the statues as mediators while most Pagans see the objects of the statues as the deities.
The Calvinists averted this trope to the other extreme, banning all ecclestical art with even overpainting the frescoes with whitewash and breaking all sculptures. Even today Calvinist churches are known of their bareness and lack of any decoration.
It is generally portrayed that within each religion there is an agreement on what is canon. This couldn't be more wrong and in fact, there are more arguments over canon than in any other literary type. This is because, unlike in what is generally considered fiction, many people place a lot of faith on the literal interpretations of religious passages.
Anyone talking about native traditions that they read in a book is probably wrong. There are many such books, and they either have 19th-century anthropological biases, or more recently are an attempt to spread ideology (e.g., Ruth Beebe Hill spreading Objectivism) or make money (e.g., Robert "Ghost Wolf" Franzone).
The statement that all religions are essentially the same, usually made for the sake of shilling the unity of humankind. This statement can easily be disproven by contrasting the Christian concept of people as material-spiritual beings, with the Hindu and Buddhist concept of transmigration of the soul, or by contrasting the Catholic two-in-one-flesh concept of marriage, with the traditional Muslim idea, which permits divorce and polygamy with restrictions. In 99.9% of cases, anyone claiming this is basing their opinion on popular (and largely eclectic) ideas and works, most of which cherry-pick only the most minor and non-objectionable elements of a religion, which would be difficult to codify into a religion on their own. Particularly since contrary to popular belief, a moral law system common to all religions cannot be agreed upon. Though to be fair, certain aspects of morality are common among the major religions and among atheists (the ones brought up in those religions anyway). For instance, most modern people agree that murdering innocent children is extremely bad. Again, though, they'll all give different reasons for why it is bad and why that moral idea is so universal across different belief systems, so even there... Also, contrary to what a lot of people who think morality is entirely inherent say, you can't really base morality on Paganism (per se) since each and every one of their gods basically did as they pleased.
Buddhism is often classified as purely a philosophy, and definitively not a religion. Depending on the form of Buddhism, there are in fact many potential elements (belief in reincarnation, god-like beings, miracles) that would be thought of as being religious, while other forms have none of those elements. Debate could go on forever over whether it's a religion or a philosophy, but the bottom line is that it's more complicated than it's sometimes presented. It really doesn't help that Siddhartha Gautama, the teacher who would later be made into the original Buddha, is believed to have said "Stop Worshipping Me".
Buddhism is sometimes called nihilistic, but that isn't very accurate. Saying that Buddhism is nihilist in the context of Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophy is a different story; Nietzsche's definition of nihilism is rather different, as evidenced by his belief that Christianity is a form of nihilism.
Any time the Buddha appears as a jolly fat guy. This is actually a guy known as Budai or Hotei, who is often erroneously called the "fat Buddha" or "laughing Buddha". This misconception comes from the fact that Budai himself was considered a Boddhisattva (a person who attained buddhahood), and is often regarded as an embodiment of Maitreya.
Mormons teach that angels are in fact of the same order of creation as human beings. They believe that unborn human spirits were in fact the angels that helped build Creation, and post-mortal human spirits (and resurrected persons) act as what we call angels as well.
Similarly, The New Church ("Swedenborgian") holds expressly that "Heaven and Hell are entirely from the human race... There is not a single angel or devil who was created as such." (Swedenborg, HEAVEN AND HELL).
A lot of people seem to think that Mormons worship Joseph Smith and/or the current prophet, but this is not the case. Just as the Israelites worshipped the Lord and followed Moses, Mormons worship the Savior and follow the current prophet and apostles.
Any jokes about Mormons and polygamy tend to ignore how it was and is practiced in reality. Even at the height of the practice in the 1800s, polygamists were a minority of the Mormon population. Some groups within the Latter Day Saint movement (such as the Community of Christ) never practiced it at all. In 1890, the mainstream LDS Church abandoned the practice and forbade any of its members to enter into a polygamous marriage or face immediate excommunicaftion. Several small groups rejected this change of policy and founded small colonies in remote areas in order to continue polygamy, some of which survive today. These small groups tend to have a man marry one wife legally and then co-habitat with "spirit wives." Most of these are good law-abiding citizens. However, some Mormon Fundamentalists do take polygamy to the extreme, saying that a man who doesn't have more than one wife can't make it to heaven. They then exile young boys to ensure there are enough women to go around, and sometimes force underage girls into "marriages" with older men, sometimes men who are closely related to them. But your average Mormon doesn't practice polygamy, and hasn't been able to for at least five generations.
Polygamy is a very sensitive topic for mainstream Mormons, which has led to some misinformation within the Mormon community trying to minimize the importance of polygamy in church history. You often see claims that only 3 percent of 19th century Mormons practiced it (the actual number was more like 20 percent), and that only a few select members received a "calling" from God to practice polygamy (after the 1850s it was largely voluntary, but it still required approval from church leaders.)
Also, when discussing polygamy it's important to remember that the historical context of polygamy wasn't very sexy - polygamy happened so that something could be done with a woman nobody knew what else to do with, such as a widow who had nobody left to provide for her. In small, struggling communities without a lot of self-sufficient single men to go around a few men had to double up on their responsibilities. It was often considered a sad duty to take another mouth to feed into your home. (Polygamy in Islam tended to work the same way.) Now that we have women getting jobs and educations, and a welfare system and so on, the practice is not very relevant.
The Mormon health code named Word of Wisdom, which gives dietary guides for its members always seems to include caffeine when talked or joked about, despite the fact caffeine is nowhere to be found in the Word of Wisdom text within the Doctrine and Covenants. It does specifically ban bodily consumption of "wine and strong drinks" (i.e. alcohol), tobacco, and "hot drinks", which is interpreted to mean coffee and tea. Some Mormons choose to avoid all caffeine as an extension of this, but it is not doctrine and a person can still drink cola or other soft drinks without being considered to have broken a commandment. (Sadly, this is a law that even people in the Church get mixed up about, as there are cases of Mormons looking down on others who like to drink colas.) Some people have made personal decisions to avoid caffeine in other contexts as well due to its addictive nature, but it is not absolutely necessary for anyone to do so.
Despite all the attention paid to the things banned in the Word of Wisdom, the bulk of it is actually about the things that are encouraged: eating a balanced meal with mostly fruits, grains, and vegetables, and meat only as needed, as well as having regular exercise and generally avoiding gluttony and slothfulness. It also promises good health to those who follow it faithfully. This is just another way to show that the doctrine isn't really about what is forbidden and the things that go wrong if you break the commandments, and more about what is best to do and how your life will be improved by following it faithfully.
There's a popular belief in the Mormon community that the reason the church was officially established on April 6, 1830 was because Joseph Smith learned that April 6 was the actual birthdate of Jesus. This is because the scripture about the organization of the church opens thusly: "The rise of the Church of Christ in these last days, being one thousand eight hundred and thirty years since the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the flesh...in the fourth month, and on the sixth day of the month which is called April." This can either be interpeted as saying that April 6, 1830 was exactly 1,830 years to the day, or just as a fancy way of saying "hey, it's 1830!" Some influential church leaders went with the first choice, and many rank-and-file Mormons followed suit, even though other leaders rejected the April 6/Jesus' Birthday interpretation as being way too literal. But recently the original handwritten document was discovered, and it turned out that the line wasn't written by Smith, but by his Sesquipedalianly Loquacious secretary.
The idea that Muslims do not believe in Jesus is only half correct. Not only does Jesus feature in the Koran but Muslims often visit Christian holy sites. They do differ, however, in that while Muslims do believe Jesus to be the Messiah; they just define "Messiah" as being a less important role than Jews or Christians do. They believe that Jesus was divinely created and performed many miracles, despite not being divine himself. Jesus was not the Son of God, but he was a prophet only a little less important than Muhammad. They also believe he wasn't killed on the cross—and thus obviously wasn't resurrected. (Precisely how he wasn't killed is a point of contention—the Koran simply says that people didn't kill him on the cross, but it was made to appear that way. A popular theory is that one of the disciples volunteered to take Jesus' place, and was transformed to look like him.)
Muslims also honor and love the Virgin Mary. There is more information on Mary in the Holy Qu'ran than there is in the entire Holy Bible.
Medieval Christian Europeans believed that the Muslim "Saracens", worshipped Muhammed (Mahomet), who they believed to have been a Christian bishop who started his own religion after a failed bid for the papacy. At other times Muslims were alleged to worship Apollo, Lucifer, or "Termagant", a wholly imaginary god whose name may be a bastardization of the Norse god Tyr. Their artwork and poetry reflected this, with scenes of the Muslims praying over idols, etc.
This is the basis of the now out-of-use term "Mohammedanism," which Muslims take offense to because of its implication that they worship the prophet.
When Islam first appeared, even learned Christians weren't sure how to classify it: it didn't make sense to call it pagan because Muslims were strict monotheists, Islam was clearly not a sect of Judaism, and calling it a heresy would indicate it was far closer to orthodox Christianity than it actually is. Still, the name "Mohammedanism" follows the naming convention for heresies, which is that if the heretical teaching does not have a name, then it is named after the one who advocated it (generally a bishop, hence the mistaken impression that Mohammed was a renegade bishop).
A common view is that Allah is a different God from the one Christians and Jews worship. In fact, "Allah" is simply the Arabic word for "God" (meaning "the god") and many Arabic-speaking Christiansnote And Arabic-speaking Jews: there used to be quite a few of them, although there are a lot fewer of them now. The communities that remain are mostly in Morocco, Tunisia, and Yemen. refer to their God as Allah. In addition, many of the actions attributed to God in the Bible (including very specific acts like making a covenant with Abraham) are also attributed to Allah in the Qu'ran. On the other hand, there are many real disagreements between Christianity and Islam on the nature, actions and expectations of God, including whether or not Jesus is God. Your Mileage May Vary on whether that means people are saying different things about the same God, or are talking about different Gods.
The confusion here is that the plain Arabic word for god is ilah — along with such incidents as the Malaysian riots in 2007 over the "sin" of Christians in the country using the word Allah for God, even though it was simply the first word they thought to use and had been using it for a while. It gets complicated as some Muslims suggest Allah is the same God of Abraham and Moses but is different from "YHWH" which is "evidenced" by YHWH not being included in the 99 names of God(never mind YHWHis notsupposed to be invoked) which causes them to shout Allahu Akbar. "The God is greater" (you're doing it wrong).
Another misconception is that Allah is really a pagan moon God because that was the name pre-Islamist Arabs used for the moon, which they did indeed worship in pagan practices. Against this is that Allah of the Quaran is described much differently than the Allah of the pagan past, similar to how the Hebrew Elohim is not the same as the Canaanite usage.
Which itself is a falsehood. Pagan Arabs themselves never considered Allah to be a moon god, they thought of Allah as the eternal creator of Heaven & Earth (just like Muslims do), and similar to the Babylonian "El" which became used as one name for YHWH. Sîn was the actual moon god of ancient Semitic religions (and was a minor deity at that) The Arab Hubal was an important figure argued to be a moon god but Qu'ran makes it clear he is not the same as Allah. The Moon God myth was the creation of long-since discredited claims from 19th century pseudo-scholarship.
The actual arabic god of the moon, Wadd, is mentioned as a seperate deity in the Qu'ran.
The statement that Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world is not true. Falun Gong is actually the world's fastest-growing religionnote of course, "fastest-growing" doesn't necessarily mean anything
Anything that says you have to have a Bar Mitzvah ceremony to become a man, such as one episode of The Simpsons ("Today, I Am A Clown"). You don't. You just have to turn 13. The Bar Mitzvah ceremony just marks the occasion: the newly-thirteen-year-old does an adult activity, such as serving as the reader in the synagogue, simply to show that he can, and there's a party to celebrate.
Lampshaded in Harry Kemmelman's ONE FINE DAY THE RABBI BOUGHT A CROSS, where Rabbi Small makes a futile attempt to convince the man who "never had a Bar Mitzvah" and his abettors in the congregation that they are confusing it with Christian confirmation.
Also played with in a Kim Possible episode in which Ron gets the notion into his head that he's not really a man because the rabbi forgot to sign his Bar Mitzvah certificate. This is clearly presented as just Ron being neurotic (again) rather than an actual Jewish belief, though.
Similarly, ultra-Orthodox Jewish girls having a Bat Mitzvah at thirteen, when they don't have Bat Mitzvahs at all. Orthodox girls have it at twelve, while most Reform girls celebrate their Bat Mitzvah at thirteen.
And the idea that the phrase Bar Mitzvah specifically refers to the ceremony and/or party is at least a bit simplistic. At the age of 13, a Jewish boy becomes a Bar Mitzvah ("son of the commandment" i.e. a person fully responsible for living by Jewish law), regardless of whether he takes part in a ceremony or has a party.
The use of the Star of David as a protective religious symbol, analogous to the Cross (waving it in the face of vampires, etc.) is... doubtful. The Star of David is usually more of a symbol of Jewish ethnic/national identity and is not used in this context. The actual means of warding off evil in Judaism (the Sh'ma prayer, and also certain Psalms and talismans) are hardly ever depicted in fiction. A more accurate example might be the Chamsa, which represents the the hand of God.
Many films show Shabbat candles being lit at the start of the Shabbat meal on Friday night (see Schindler's List, for example), when in fact they are lit an hour before the meal begins.
Atheism can be roughly summarised as ranging from a simple lack of a positive belief that (specific) god or gods exists, to an explicit belief that a god or gods do not exist. Typically atheists will extend non-belief to most, or any, form of supernatural activity, but it is not required. This differs from agnosticism in that agnostics tend to assert that humans don't (or cannot) know if a god or gods exist, and so generally remain undecided. However this does not actually preclude belief one way or the other as, contrary to popular belief, agnostics are neither religious nor atheists - unlike atheism, agnosticism comes in almost as many shades as belief does.
Agnosticism and atheism are not mutually exclusive - it's possible to be an agnostic atheist, i.e. "I do not know if a god exists or not, and I do not believe that it does". Gnostic atheism, on the other hand, would be more along the lines of "I know that there is no god".
Complicating matters, many people use the word "agnostic" to mean "I'm not sure if there is a god", which is distinct from the formal definition: "I believe that it is impossible to know if a god exists or not."
You will also find plenty of people who don't believe in God, but object to the term "atheist" (mostly due to its association with anti-theism) and will use "agnostic" as a label for themselves instead.
Atheism is not a religion in itself; a good quotation is, "Calling atheism a religion is like saying that not being a stamp collector is a hobby". However, a few atheists treat their atheism as a sort of "anti-religion". There are a number of atheists on the internet (though one or two may be trolls) who initiate religious debates completely out of context in order to reaffirm their supposed "moral high ground", and will defend their lack of belief with a very ideological zeal. Some dictatorial regimes (Soviet Russia, North Korea, China, Albania, etc) had atheism as part of the official Marxist ideology and and went to very extreme lengths to oppress religion, forcing schools to teach atheism while very heavily oppressing and dismantling churches (or in the case of Albania, outright banning religion completely). This form of atheism is often called "anti-theism" or "militant atheism" as its proponents generally demand a complete and total removal of religion via forceful means. This has resulted in a lot of things we probably shouldn't mention here to save arguments. Suffice to say, strong anti-theists of the sort described above don't curve back round and become "religious" - this is a cheap argument that attempts to shift the blame for evils committed by anti-theists onto religion as a whole, or a hypothetical "religious mindset" (i.e. the idea that veneration of Marxism/communism/socialism along with leaders such as Stalin or Mao is basically religion without the belief in the supernatural). Use of this argument is tantamount to saying that "anything bad done in order to spread atheism or destroy religion is religion's fault". Having a strong ideology is not necessarily religion, obviously, and does not require it be forced on other people.
The regimes listed above were/are Marxist, and atheism is part of its doctrine. Marx's statement that religion was "the opium of the people" (usually misquoted as "the opiate of the masses") reflected his belief that it was something people used to comfort themselves, and would fade away when communism improved people's lives. This didn't happen or not enough for their satisfaction, and a great number of Marxist regimes sought to make religion fade away. Hard.
Also, these regimes believed the people perceived religion and God as being a power higher than the state, which they could not allow.
Additionally, being anti-theist is not necessarily an indication by itself for advocating forced suppression of religions. It means viewing religion and theism as not only false in their opinion but undesirable, even as an abstract idea sometimes (like Christopher Hitchens did). At least not in America anyway, it is usually a different matter in countries where anti-theists get full control, such as Russia. The methods used to attack it nowadays are generally rather forceful rhetoric, not violence. Most atheists, whether strongly anti-theist or not, will oppose what they view as special treatment of religion, such as state recognition or preferences for it in civic ceremonies (religious invocations on the currency, in national mottos, prayers before opening legislatures, national anthems) tax breaks, etc., as discriminatory.
While atheists and agnostics are often irreligious*
atheistic religions exist; for example, some forms of Buddhism
, not all irreligious people are atheists or agnostics. Sources such as Adherents.com say that approximately half of the irreligious around the world still have a belief in god(s) or at least some belief in a "higher power"; it's just that these folks don't really believe in the specific doctrines or practices of organized religions. Other times, irreligious people just don't give much thought to the existence or nonexistence of God, feeling that the question is simply unimportant to their lives; these folks are called "apatheists".
Miscellaneous - Other
Taoism: Few things are known by people from the West besides "go with the flow." Which, besides missing a few of the finer points, is overly simplistic.
That Taoism is only a philosophy, not a religion (actually, it's both, with a great deal of overlap into alchemy, medicine, and other disciplines). This website has a huge amount about what it really means to be a Taoist.
The Tao you can explain or describe is not the Tao that is.
The belief that Taoism and Christianity are mutually exclusive. The theory is based on several assumptions, such as that it is related to the above Dualism, that Satan is depicted as an "opposite but equal" force to God the Father or Jesus, and by this (mis)understanding, the two are unworkable. In point of fact, Satan isn't even part of the picture in the combined religion or otherwise (except possibly in something out of balance) and God can be Yin/Yang himself. Nevermind that Taoism is more pantheistic than monotheistic anyway. Taoism is also extremely flexible, allowing for many influences fromChristianity or other religions (most notably combining into Zen Buddhism), so there is nothing to preclude the reverse from being the case.
The way mainstream society does this in regard to Left Hand Path religions deserves a major mention here. To go into depth about it would take up almost a page, but here's a few highlights:
There are many left hand path faiths. LaVeyan Satanism is not the only one. There's everything from Thelema to Setianism to the Jizo sects of Buddhism to Chaos Magick, with many others under the umbrella. What defines a belief as Left Hand Path is its willingness to accept Alternate Character Interpretation of a figure/figures who are judged as "evil" in a dominant belief system (e.g. Lucifer and other "fallen angels" or "heretics" in Christianity, Set in Egyptian paganism, the Jizo Buddha which guards hell in some Buddhist teachings, Loki in Norse paganism, etc.) More than one figure may be upheld by a specific practitioner who is simply interested in the idea of Perspective Flip as applied to belief. So to call all left hand path belief "Satanism" or "devil worship" is Epic Fail and very offensive to, say, a practitioner who follows Jizo Buddhism because they don't believe in anything related to Christianity, not even its inversion.
Actual followers of Left Hand Paths are generally not following a Religion of Evil, and usually are ethical enough not to harm innocents. Whereas somepeople may use the figures in these paths to create a Religion of Evil or a cult, and while some violent teenagers and The Mentally Disturbed may use the symbolism of, say, Satanism in criminal actions, these are no more connected to actual Left Hand Path belief than child abuse is connected to Christianity. And most of us who are really devoted to an LHP religion see them as having failed study forever. That said, there may be some exceptions to this rule (as there are always) but the media portrayal of "Satanic killers" is frankly offensive bullshit and more failure.
Not even all followers of these paths specifically worship anyone or anything. Most accurately, LaVeyan Satanism could be considered "atheism on steroids with a huge dose of Take That at Christianity by inverting its practices," for example, and Chaos Magick is a system far more concerned with the use of magick to empower than with "worship" of a specific deity. On the other hand, some do. The okayness of your mileage varying is a central point of most Left Hand Path paganism. The failure happens when, as usual, people insist that Left Hand Path followers "worship Satan." And Epic Failhappens when *non Left Hand Path* pagans are accusedof "worshiping Satan."
Not all Heathens will go to Valhalla after they die, and most Heathens don't care about Odin's hall. The portrayal that a Heathen's options are Valhalla or bust is also Artistic License, because each deity has their own hall (or they share a hall with their spouse); any hall is a possible abode in the afterlife. There's also the possibility that a Heathen will remain in Midgard (here on Earth) or remain in the area they're buried. Heathenry also has Reincarnation within the family as a possible afterlife.
Wiccans don't just believe in a Goddess, there is both a Goddess and a God. Also, the pentacle, though it has been adopted by Wiccans as a symbol for the elements, was originally a Pythagorean symbol (as well as a Christian symbol; see "Christianity - Traditional").
Conflating all of Wicca with Dianic Wicca. Dianic Wicca either completely ignores the Horned God, or places sole supremacy on the Goddess. Many sects within Dianic Wicca are also female only. This contradicts most other Wiccan sects belief that there must be a balance between genders (at it's most extreme, some Wiccan sects require an equal number of males and females in a coven). As a result, many Wiccan sects do not consider Dianic Wicca to be true Wicca. Dianic Wicca has reacted by agreeing with the sentiment and distancing itself from the name Wicca, calling their faith either "Dianic Witchcraft" or "Dianic Feminist Witchcraft". Nonetheless, most representations of Wicca in the media is based on Dianic Wicca, usually of the solitary practitioner variety.
On the other hand, Gavin and Yvonne Frost of the "Church of Wicca" have been accused of not being "real" witches because they are (or at least were) Gasp! MONOTHEISTS! And Dianics aren't?
There is also the Goddess movement, which has a certain amount of crossover with Wicca of both varieties. Men are not excluded but their role in the universe is redefined.
All Wicca being at odds with Christian symbolism. In truth, the oldest form of Wicca, Gardnerian Wicca, has references to the Bible. Spells invoke the names of prophets, saints, angels, and Jesus, though this is often alongside the names of gods from other pantheons. In fact, the Virgin Mary is believed to be one of the forms of the Goddess. It is true, however, that later forms of Wicca have de-emphasized or removed these references, for a variety of reasons, including Christian persecution.
While it may not be at odds with Christian symbolism to the Wiccans, it quite clearly is to the Christians. Pretty sure the Vatican wouldn't be too thrilled with throwing Jesus in with other gods/goddesses.
Using the words "witch" and "Wiccan" as if they're interchangeable - they're not. While it's safe to say that most Wiccans are witches, not all witches are Wiccans, let alone believe in the God and Goddess. Likewise, referring to an adherent of the religion as a "Wicca" rather than a "Wiccan."
That the pentagram is solely a Wiccan symbol, or more likely, the Left Hand Path religions (for that see above). In fact, it has been used by many cultures around the world-after all, it is just a five-pointed star, a fairly obvious thing to come up with. This includes Christianity, although usage has probably become less common due to the aforementioned false associations. For a very analogous case, see the swastika, a common symbol used globally for centuries until its adoption by Nazism (although it's still widely used in the East, such as on Hindu and Buddhist temples).
Wicca being an ancient religion. It's actually a modern synthesis of various older religious concepts and practices.
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In Mexico, there is a common PSA for a children's illness organization depicting the Littlest Cancer Patient as an angel. The text translates to English roughly as, "We want no more angels in Heaven; we need them down here." This is already a serious failure to understand Catholic and Christian dogma, but coupled with Mexico's overwhelmingly large Catholic majority, it's truly odd. It's probably supposed to mean "we don't want dead kids, we want them to live" and they are using angel in the "cute" sense, and while there is a rank in the hierarchy of angels, called "Powers", which are made up of human souls who were "made perfect by their righteousness" they're technically not angels, just drafted human souls. Also, the apocryphal "Book of Enoch" and many of the earliest Kabbalist writings believed the angel Metatron is actually the Prophet Enoch transformed, while Sandalphon is the Prophet Elijah.
"Kosher style" food. Kosher is simply anything prepared in compliance to Kashrut (dietary laws) on how to prepare and combine food, not a style of food. One can have Kosher Japanese or Chinese food, for example. This also follows for the similar Muslim concept of halal-meaning "permissible" and "fit" versus treif or haram-"torn" and "forbidden."
Chuck Austen on Roman Catholicism in the X-Men comics.
The villains in the story plan to get Nightcrawler, a devil-looking mutant, installed as the pope then at a crucial time have his image inducer fails revealing him to be the Antichrist while distributing communion wafers that when activated will cause people to dissolve, simulating the Rapture, which will cause all the Catholic Church to declare war on all the mutants, wiping out the mutants, breaking the Catholic Church, destroying Western Civilization, and causing all the former Catholics to join their church. This plan is either insanely stupid or surprisingly brilliant. It's insanely stupid because the villains were a small, breakaway faction of Catholicism with likely very little actual power in the papal elections and therefore could not get Nightcrawler elected as pope, would require everyone in the Church to assume he is the Antichrist, and not, say, someone who replaced the pope, have these communion wafers distributed far and wide and not have anyone discover them, have Catholics spontaneously adopt the Rapture (as this is not part of Catholic Dogma, but originated in Protestantism), and that this will cause the collapse of Western Civilization even though large swaths of Western Civilization don't practice Catholicism, that all the Catholics will spontaneously lose their faith including the more secular and non-practicing ones, and that all these ex-Catholics will join their church, rather than the hundreds of other faiths out there. The reason why it's potentially brilliant, is that it reflects how cynically accurate the reactions of the Marvel human population would be, and that having the Rapture really would cause problems because it would overturn a lot of previous dogma. If only they mentioned the latter bit.
Also, the Rapture described in the story is what's referred to as a pre-tribulation Rapture, in which the Rapture is followed by a period of war, famine, death, etc. before Christ returns. In order for this plan to work, the villains in this story would need the resources to simulate both the tribulation and Christ's return to maintain believability. They obviously don't have these resources because then they could just kill the mutants directly instead of making the scheme to begin with, and it would require doing a rather large case of blasphemy by faking the return of Jesus Christ..
Also, the antichrist Nightcrawler was supposed to be mistaken for was from the pop culture version of a particular interpretation of Revelation - an interpretation, needless to say, not held by Catholicism in general, which considers that part of the book to be thinly-veiled criticism of the Roman Empire.
Linkara also point out (in these reviews ) that Chuck Austen got some of the Bible quotes he used in that story wrong and he even misspelled the word revelation! It's safe to assume he didn't do too much research.
The Chick Tracts often do this to any religious ideology besides Jack Chick's own version of Christian fundamentalism (which is rather extreme, even for normal fundamentalism). When he does his research, it is usually from unreliable or discredited sources — sometimes even his own version of Christian fundamentalism. As a result, not everyone is convinced his works aren't an elaborate parody. It helps that he is so cryptic a person that absolutely nothing is known about him. Wikipedia even suggest that "Jack Chick" might have been the "pen name for an unnamed author or authors". Examples of Artistic License - Religious Studies from Chick Tracts include:
Freemasons worship Baphomet. In reality, Freemasons tend to be Christians (but not Real, True Christians (TM) according to Jack Chick, of course). The only requirement to become a Freemason, in fact, is believing a higher power exists, though they don't get specific about it.
His apparent belief that the Catholics have never heard of God or Jesus deserves a special mention. And for that matter, his apparent belief that there are actually people in Western society who have never heard of God or Jesus.
More on Catholics:
Catholics worship the Virgin Mary instead of Jesus. They never worshiped Jesus. They worship Baal, who is not the Virgin Mary.*
The contradiction between these things is never addressed.
Allah is not God; he is some kind of Babylonian moon god that was left over after Muhammad threw all the other idols out of Mecca.
Then there's this comic; even if you assume a Translation Convention from Arabic, the Arabic word for (big-G) "God" simply is "Allah". Arabic-speaking Christians address their worship to "Allah". So how do you say "Allah is not God" in Arabic?
"الله ليس إله" was used for the curious. So yes, it does lose a lot in the translation, to the point that the same phrase is used with the opposite implication: (Allah [God], is not the [god] of confusion...) in the most common modern Arabic bible, ironically the same one that antagonist of the story, an Arab convert to Protestant Christianity, would end up using.
It is true that the Muslim conception of religion comes from a different source than Judaism and Christianity, but the lunar symbol is just that, merely a symbol (probably left over from Persian times), and wasn't even adopted until into the 1400s. Green color is more the Islamic symbol, but it's hard to spin that into hidden meanings. The reason it sounds convincing is that it's a half-truth. Also, the line right after is laughable:
"At 25, he had married Khadija, a wealthy Catholic widow who was 40 years old...
Who besides playing to the author's weird beliefs on Catholics (to which even Wikipedia says nothing to prove), she looks closer to 25, and he looks closer to 40.
Azrael, in spades, the second series even more so than the first.
A particularly Egregious example is the 2011 Bat Family CrossoverJudgement on Gotham. In this crossover, Azrael (Michael Lane) teams with the Crusader, a superpowered psychotic, in order to destroy Gotham City, which they perceive as a modern day Sodom/Gomorrah (It's later revealed that they were manipulated into doing this by Ra's al Ghul, who apparently likes to play with Dominoes). In accordance to The Bible story on the topic, however, they decide to instead first see if there is one righteous soul in the city. So, naturally, they decide to test Batman (Dick Grayson), Catwoman (Selina Kyle) and Red Robin (Tim Drake). If they find one righteous soul, they'll spare the city. Aaaaaaaandd here's where it fails. In the original Sodom and Gomorrah story, God agreed with Abraham to not destroy the cities for the sake of ten righteous people. This then begs the question of why Azrael and the Crusader didn't just take a poll of the local Christian churches. We the readers are then expected to believe that 1.) The biggest "sin" that the Sword of Sin (a sword that when plunged into a person's body reveals to both the victim and the wielder the sins of the victim) could dredge up from Dick Grayson was not helping some random guy from the circus when he was a kid, as opposed to, say, fornication, lying, lustful thoughts, use of profanity etc. 2.) We are further expected to believe that Azrael and the Crusader sincerely think that they can find an individual without sin, which, according to The Bible, yes, The Bible, is impossible with the sole exception of Jesus Christ. 3.) In relation to point 2, we are then expected to believe that Tim Drake, who, as good a guy as he is, has lied, thought lustful thoughts, and used profane language, is "sinless." We are also expected to believe that Tim is pretentious enough to even think he has no sins, which he does think, according to his opening monologue. 4.) We are then expected to believe that Selina Kyle, Catwoman, would fail the "sinless" test solely because she wouldn't kill her sister "in the name of God", as opposed to her history of stealing, fornication, etc., this test completely violating every rule of Christianity. The reason it's so ridiculous is that the entire premise of this crossover relies on Azrael and Crusader, the former being a staunch Catholic from boyhood, being completely ignorant of the Bible's most basic principles, to the point that Catwoman knows more about Christianity than they do ("God and God alone can judge").
The Mighty Thor is ripe with artistic license from Horny Vikings to changing the genders of certain characters in Norse Mythology (i.e. Laufey is Loki's mother in the lore) to all out Hijacked By Jesus (with Loki being a blatant antagonist). Marvel's adaptation of Thor and the mythology is a hot topic in many Heathen circles, though that isn't to say that everyone is going to be upset with it.
In Dogma the concept of Plenary Indulgence is portrayed completely wrong. Multiple characters who should know better (angels and a cardinal) describe it as a clean slate, and the forgiveness and removal of all sins. It is not. Plenary Indulgence is the removal of the need for temporal punishments of sins that have already been forgiven — It does not remove nor wipe out a person's sins. One might argue that Bartleby and Loki failing to understand the concept properly is part of the joke. Also, Metatron calls himself a "seraphim" and reveals two wings. The singular of "seraphim" is "seraph," and they have six wings.
Dogma also states that angels can't have sex when the Bible says they fathered children. The film further states that the Catholic church has a huge conspiracy to conceal the existence of Jesus Christ's brothers and sisters. The same ones that are mentioned explicitly as such in the Book of Matthew. And the Book of Acts. And the Book of Luke. And the Book of John. And the Epistle of James and the Epistle of Jude, each written by brothers of Jesus.
The idea that angels fathered children is debatable, biblically speaking, since it depends on the interpretation of the phrase "sons of God" in Genesis and is (possibly) contradicted by Jesus when he says that the redeemed after the resurrection will be "as the angels, neither marrying nor giving in marriage." (Which, given biblical morality, would seem to imply no angel sex.)
Considering the hebrew words used for "sons of God", either Jesus failed at theology himself or he was using "angel" as a metaphor.
Accordingly, the Grigori (what Ben Affleck's character was) were a choir of Angels discussed in the Apocrypha, which is considered non-canonical by Catholicism. Moreover, in Catholicism (and several other denominations of Christianity), they follow the understanding of Angels under Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, in which case they A.) lack the sensitive powers inherent in animal and human souls and because of that B.) lack bodies. The only way the Angels/Demons be able to be at a location in any sort of temporal means would be to possess a temporal host. Other than that, position in space and time is utterly irrelevant to them. Grigori were the exception, but again, not viewed as Canon by the Catholic Church (and they had gender, and sired children. This was one of the reasons behind the great flood, to get rid of them).
Interestingly, a lot of the film's plot runs on the fact that Azrael, through Bartleby and Loki, is intentionally exploiting loopholes and using everyone's beliefs against them. The Cardinal is using the concept of Plenary Indulgences wrong, the whole "God is infallible" being proved incorrect has no basis in any official teachings, and half the stated rules and consequences happened (in-universe at least) centuries after the Bible began to be written. It's a humungous Batman Gambit running on nobody being 100% in the know about what was and wasn't possible, with the only omnipotent being in existence (God his-/herself) being stuck in a coma. It's entirely possible that Azrael's entire plan would have turned into a big pile of nothing anyway, with God just being mildly miffed that Bartleby and Loki were schucking God's edicts again, but having some sympathy once Loki actually got the chance to realize his wrongdoings and repent.
The B-movie Lost Souls starring Winona Ryder. The filmmakers have admitted to making up the Bible verse that is central to the plot. One of the main characters is seemingly doomed to be possessed by demons because he hasn't been baptized. No one thinks to just baptize him and end the issue. Apparently the director and writer thought Catholics can only be baptized as infants.
Likewise, Quentin Tarantino admitted to making up most of Ezekiel 25:17. Only the last part of Jules Winnfield's diatribe is (almost) the real verse, i.e.; "And I will execute great vengeance upon them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall lay my vengeance upon them."
Roger Ebert: "Stigmata" does not know, or care, about the theology involved, and thus becomes peculiarly heretical by confusing the effects of being possessed by Jesus and by Beelzebub."
It also features a desperate conspiracy by the Catholic Church to cover up the existence of the newly-rediscovered Gospel of Thomas, which would apparently destroy the entire institution of religion if discovered. However, it was actually discovered in 1945, and published (and translated) shortly after with no opposition whatsoever.
In Keeping The Faith there is a scene where people in a synagogue are shown seated during kol nidrei, which would not happen in real life. This is not the only inaccuracy in the movie, but it's definitely the most Egregious example.
Constantine borrows symbols and names from Christianity, but that's where the similarities end.
A major plot point in the film is that, according to Catholic doctrine, people who commit suicide always go to Hell. This has not been the case since 1997, when the Church decided that people who were mentally ill were not entirely responsible for their actions if they chose to take their own life. At least one of the suicides in the film was committed by a mental patient. Constantine's suicide is more complicated, since suicide is only an unforgivable sin because you can't repent for it before you die. Constantine is brought back to life, so he can repent. However, as Constantine died and saw hell, he has already been condemned in the eyes of God.
Also, as the concept of brain death has become better understood, there's been serious debate in the Catholic community as to whether or not a person can commit suicide, and repent in the few seconds before the brain shuts down.
When Constantine mentions the "Spear of Destiny" and says "Jesus wasn't killed by crucifixion," the Catholic he's responding to replies with "I know, he was killed by a spear. I paid attention in Sunday School, you know." Except in the Bible, Jesus was killed by crucifixion, and a spear was only used to poke his corpse to demonstrate he was already dead. (There are people who think that Jesus was "really" killed by the spear, but those tend to be people who claim the Biblical account is wrong. No one would be able to teach the theory from the Bible, certainly not in Sunday School.)
"If you believe in God, you must believe in the Devil..." proclaims the trailer for The Last Exorcism. No, you don't. If this works at all, it is the other way.
Mrs. Carmody in the film adaptation of Stephen King's The Mist was described as crazy within the film, but anyone vaguely familiar with Christian scripture or theology should have been able to make a pretty convincing argument against her, on her own terms.
While the main characters criticize Mrs. Carmody's ravings that it's the Rapture (and that human sacrifice is required to appease God), at one point a tough biker-guy volunteers to go on an expedition outside: his parting shot was that for the record, he did believe in God, but thought Carmody was a lunatic. This contrast was all-too-brief, because this man was killed shortly afterwards.
In Priest (1994, dir. Antonia Bird) a major part of the plot involves a girl confessing that her father sexually abuses her, and the priest's (who also happens to be gay, just for the zeitgeist) subsequent attempts to protect her without breaking the Seal of the Confessional. This is incorrect according to the Canon Law of the Roman Church, but is commonly misunderstood (even by priests!): the seal applies only to confessed sins. The girl was not confessing a sin (her father raped her), and the priest was therefore not bound by the seal. Later, the father himself comes along to "confess" (actually to gloat). This is likewise not bound by the seal, as it applies only to genuine confessions - the father was gloating, not confessing, and was therefore not entitled to protection.
Part of the massive backlash at Roland Emmerich's 2012 was how it perpetuated the belief of many Real Life Christians (and others) who have tried to connect the end date of the Mayan calendar with their own belief of Judgement Day. The Mayans never equated the end of their calendar with the end of the world. After all, the Georgian calendar "ends" on December 31st, and no one interprets that as the end of the world. Mayan mythology had nothing resembling an apocalypse, ignoring the inherent absurdity of Christians looking to a non-Judeo-Christian source for their eschatology.
Played for laughs in the poker tournament movie The Grand, where Larry Schwartzman shows up to a table wearing a hijab and claiming to have converted to "Muslam". This was a scare tactic against "Sob Story" Barry Blausteen, an expert at psyching out his opponents who happened to be Jewish.
In End Of Days a priest claims that the 666 in Revelation actually means 999, and therefore the end of the millennium, since in dreams and visions writing and numbers may appear as mirror images or upside-down. Even if we agree to that, there is the problem that there is no way the writer of Revelation could have known about Arabic numerals, and if he did, at the time their visual appearance had not been developed to a point where 6 and 9 resemble each other that closely. Revelation explicitly says "six hundred and sixty six", not "666"; and in Greek numerals that would be ????, which doesn't look like anything upside down.
This isn't even going into the possibility that the Mark of the Beast is actually six hundred and sixteen.
The Mummy: Anyone else wondering why the Jewish God is bothering to reenact the ten plagues of Egypt (out of order, no less), for the sake of an Egyptian curse?
The Apocalypse film series shares many of the problems with Left Behind, which it was derived from. For instance, in the third film one character states that all Christians believe in the Rapture.
This has more to do with their narrow definition of Christian (i.e. only people who believe as they do exactly. So people who don't believe in the Rapture are not Christians, according of them).
Help! is sometimes erroneously taken to be an example of this trope, because it features the goddess Kaili which is "obviously" a misspelling of Kali. However, according to the DVD commentary, this was done deliberately to avoid Unfortunate Implications; they wanted a goddess who sounded like Kali without actually being her.
The main conflict in the Hugo-winning science fiction novel A Case of Conscience by James Blish depends entirely on the "fact" that the Catholic church rejects evolution. In fact, the Catholic Church recently (in the 1940's) said the theory and religion are not mutually exclusive and that the church has no problem with the theory. Compared to certain Protestant sects Catholicism has taken a very moderate stance of the controversy - they were originally neutral on the subject but later came down in favour of it (in fact, English Protestants both supported and rallied against the theory in more or less equal measure-'Darwin's Bulldog' was a Christian). The church made no official pronouncement about the subject at all until Pius XII adopted a neutral attitude. This is more a case of Theology Marches On than a pure example of this trope, but the central character is a Catholic priest who is freaked out by the existence of an alien species that appear to be without sin yet have never known Christianity: in Real Life, the Vatican recently issued a statement to the effect that it was definitely possible humanity would find such a species out there in the universe, and the idea of sinless aliens actually works within Catholic theology since they would not share Adam's curse. (Wait, would that mean that humanity's hat is sin?!)
Or, you know, the whole Francisco Ayala thing. What with him being a former priest and famous evolutionary biologist, or Gregor Mendel? You know that guy with peas who figured out genetics and was a Monk.
According to the link, Ayala left the priesthood the same year he joined, and it does not discuss his current religion, thus it's unclear if he's still Catholic now. This may not be the best example.
It's a pretty minor example, but in American Gods, there are a couple of examples of Neil Gaiman basing his presentation of a god on Victorian-era interpretations of Slavic Mythology instead of the original. One example is the idea of Bielbog being the "good god" brother of the "dark god" Czernobog. Modern evidence is that the former didn't actually exist in Slavic tradition. Probably justified as Bielbog is an alternate personality of Czernobog in Gaiman himself admitting that he had sparse evidence of Slavic Mythology and so had to use artistic license. There's also the issue that Loki is given some association with fire. This is the result of a bad etymology, most likely originating from the story where Loki ends up in a contest against Logi who is the personification of fire, and probably a bit of association of him with Lucifer. This one, as with the previous example could also be attributed to things becoming true if people believe in this universe. Which means that they're representations of the originals brought by Slavic immigrants to America. Many of whom would have immigrated in the 19th/early 20th centuries. Presumably, the original Slavic gods are still in Eastern Europe. The book makes it clear that America can clone or reincarnate gods while the originals are still in their home countries.
An in-universe case of religious studies failure occurs within the book. Mr. Wednesday asks a random woman, who identifies as pagan, about Easter- and she responds that she doesn't follow that Christian crap, indicating she knows squat about paganism.
Which again shows another Religous Studies failure, because there never was a pagan Goddess called Easter, Easter was a fake made up by Bede. However, when Neo-paganism was formed, this wasn't known yet so Easter isn't a pagan goddess, but still venerated as a goddess in some neo-pagan denominations.
In The Blue Cross, a Master of Disguise criminal poses as a Catholic priest; but he makes the grave mistake of talking religion with Father Brown. He then attacks reason, which is, as Father Brown says, bad theology; that, among other things, helps Father Brown to uncover the disguised criminal.
In The Vampire of the Village, there's an Anglican parson, whose behavior is a strange mix of High-Churchman and Low-Churchman traits. Which helps Father Brown to deduce that he is just posing as a clergyman; but, due to ignorance in religious matters, he plays a Theme Park version of a parson.
Then there's The God of the Gongs, in which Chesterton randomly decides that there's a form of Voodoo that involves Human Sacrifice (and all the casual racism in that story). People from non-Abrahamic religions didn't get much respect in those stories.
The preface to The Wisdom Of Father Brown gives an explicit disclaimer that the "native rituals and customs" in various stories are made up for plot purposes. He cannot be blamed for not doing "research" he did not claim to be doing on things he did not claim are true. It still does not come off well though, as it's a common misconception about Voodoo which he contributed to by making up this literary version.
Then there is his novel THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY, where a fake anarchist relates that he tried disguising himself as a bishop, but when he entered the drawing room shouting "Down! Down! Presumptuous human reason!" people somehow figured out that he was an impostor, since it seems real bishops don't act like that.
In the Stephen Bury terrorism thriller The Cobweb, we encounter a Kosher butcher who's working on a Saturday afternoon. Aha! No kosher butcher would work on the Sabbath! Is he an impostor? An agent for the terrorists? ...nope. His Sabbath-desecration is not noticed, then or later, in the book. Maybe he's just a bad religious Jew? Who knows.
Mary Mae and the Gospel Truth has a woman pull her daughter out of school because the mother believes fossils are fakes, and home schools Mary to teach her creation instead of evolution. What this outright ignores is that modern creationism does not reject that fossils exist, it merely rejects the belief that millions of years are required for them to form, citing some modern examples (like 70-year-old petrified teddy bears found in a cave) to justify belief that a rapid global flood could do just as much damage in a year-and-a-half.
But Fundamentalists being who they are and lacking a central authority, there is probably a quite a few that believe that fossils are made by Satan.
In Their Eyes Were Watching God, the people of Eatonville claim at one point that any romantic speech has to reference Isaac meeting Rebecca at the well. Rebecca met Eliezer, Isaac's family servant, at the well, and Isaac and Rebecca's son Jacob met his future wife Rachel at a well, but Isaac and Rebecca's first meeting did not involve a well. Possibly this was meant to show the townspeople as being uninformed, as they're generally not the smartest bunch.
His Dark Materials, the climax of the trilogy hinges on a second Fall of humanity, in which it's prophesied that Lyra "will disobey" and thus become a "second Eve" (from The Bible). What she actually does is fall in love and make out with Will. She may have had sex, but even Word Of God on the subject is "maybe, maybe not," sometimes slanted more toward the not. The issue is that if you leave out the sex between unmarried teenagers, there's nothing in her actions that The Bible considers sin or "disobeying" at all. Even that may not be a sin, since it's supposed to happen prior to another Fall-Adam and Eve are implied to have had sex before eating the fruit.
And then, of course, there is the statement that that people had to 'snatch' Catholicism has literally stood in the way of every single scientific and technological advance in history and that these advances had to be 'snatched' from them at every turn. Never mind the fact that the actual first book of the series revolved around some nasty scientific experiments conducted for the Church, meaning that statement isn't even accurate in universe, the truth is that the real-life Church has been funding science since before it was actually called science, and still does. The long story is here under science, but the short version is that they own at least two scientific institutes - the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the extremely venerable Vatican Observatory and fund many more. The idea that they have ever opposed, or even disliked, science is a total myth. These are the guys who accepted evolution as soon as they had deemed there was sufficient evidence to support it (this was in about 1942).
This plays into a lot of common arguments that much of Christianity's stories are based upon common aspects of Pagan mythology. While it is possible to draw comparisons between the book of Genesis and other religious texts, it is generally false to claim that aspects Christianity are based on earlier religions and folk-lore. See Artistic License - Traditional Christianity for more details.
Charmed and its portrayal of Wicca can certainly qualify, such as stating the Wiccan Rede to be "no personal gain" rather than "harm none" and completely disregarding Wicca's theology involving a Goddess and God instead focusing on a completely made up cosmology involving beings such as the Elders and Whitelighters. It's more like watered-down Christianity than anything else.
Most of the actual Wiccans who turn up on the show are made to look silly. And the dialogue keeps using "Wiccan" as just a synonym for "witch". The "witches" in CHARMED mythology have little resemblance to either legendary witches or contemporary crafters; one can use "low" magic without adhering to the Gardnerian construct of a "Wiccan" religion; and one can accept the religion without being an initiated "witch".
A particularly bad case was the episode about the warlock/deacon, which only made sense by claiming that ordination as a priest would somehow confer additional "protection" against evil magic. . . especially as deacons are already in Holy Orders.
The (allegedly) Wiccan ancestor in question was from Salem at the time of the witch trials, which makes this an explicit example of the very common misconception that Wicca is (a) an ancient religion, and (b) just the "polite" term for any sort of European pagaganism other than Norse or Greco-Roman. And she was burned in Salem. Anyone who frequents TV Tropes knows the drill: accused witches were hanged in Salem, not burned.
Buffy also portrayed Wicca as a way to get magick powers rather than as a religion, lampshaded when Willow ran into a realistic Wicca coven in college and was annoyed with it by the lack of spell casting. Same word, two completely different meanings.
Willow: No, bunch of wanna-blessed-be's. You know, nowadays every girl with a Henna tattoo and a spice rack thinks she's a sister to the Dark Ones.
Any time Supernatural goes near religion. Most recently people have complained about the way Christianity and everything associated with it is being presented, but it's always had a bad track record with religion. Check out any episode where they talk about the old Pagan Gods; They Fail Religious Studies Forever by making it seem that there was apparently only one religion ever before Christianity hit the scene. The show just uses the term 'Pagan God' for any "god" of an old polytheistic religion. They specifically say the Trickster exists in Norse and Egyptian mythology, and that the Vanír were Norse gods, too.
Lampshaded when Sam corrects a girl in the pilot, after she says that the pentacle is a symbol of Satanism.
Try to find any mention of "66 of 666 seals" in Revelation.
Recently they had Castiel scold the boys for believing that the Antichrist will be the son of Satan. "Your Bible gets more wrong than it does right," he explains. Except... the Bible never describes the Devil having any children. You think an angel would know better. However, it was a popular piece of Christian folklore that the Devil fathered children with human women, but not official doctrine, which is likely where this idea comes from.
Samhain, that demon in "It's the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester". Samhain is actually the Celtic Sabbath that falls on Halloween, and it's pronounced SOW-EHN, not SAM HANE. Please, if you're going to insult every Celtic witch out there, at least do it right, and it becomes even more obvious when you realise that "Samhain" is also the Irish word for "November", so it wouldn't exactly be difficult to check the pronunciation...
A similar mispronunciation with the ghost of Halloween in The Real Ghostbusters, although that may possibly be deliberate.
According to Supernatural, if an angel falls from grace they become human, but according to Christian theology if an angel falls from grace then they become a demon. Hence the term "fallen angel". This is probably down to a certain film in which an angel falls in love with a woman and becomes human by, er, jumping off a roof.
Defying Gravity has an episode in which Paula, a devout Catholic, proclaims the discovery of aliens as a sign of the upcoming Rapture. As stated above, the Rapture is not Catholic doctrine. (Possibly justified, however, if she has just picked up on pop cultural Protestant beliefs. Plus, it's in the future.)
The worst example on The X-Files was probably the laughably bad portrayal of Judaism in "Kaddish", but attempts to portray Agent Scully's Catholicism or any other forms of Christianity tended to run headlong into the writers' total lack of research.
And Voodoo, and Wicca, and their conflation of Satanism and (Aleister Crowley's) Thelema, which had nothing to do with real-world Satanism or Thelema.
A more specific example: in the episode 3, a character writes "John 52:54" on a wall, and Mulder is immediately able to bring the verse to mind. Problem is, it's actually "John 6:52-54" he's thinking of, and "John 52:54" doesn't exist.
The new series of Doctor Who fails hard in "The Satan Pit" when it's claimed that in every culture throughout history, horned beings have symbolised evil. Horns were a symbol of potency, fertility and power in many ancient religions and were later demonised by Christian writers because they were so popular amongst the heathens. Ironically, in the Seventies serial "The Daemons", the Doctor actually mentions these varied connotations. "The Daemons", however, has its own failings; it implied that Beltane was a night for evil spirits, when it in fact was a day for purification, transition, and fertility rituals. And even in regards to Christian beliefs, horns are very commonly used as a reference simply to strength or power throughout both the New and Old Testaments—it shows up in the prophecies of David and Revelation, for example, and is a frequent image in the Psalms, where it's used as a reference to God Himself!
The first episode of Bones written by Kathy Reichs had "Wiccans" who were all-female, descended from the Salem "witches," and who stole corpses and used bat bones in their ceremonies. Even though the corpse stealer was portrayed as a blasphemer that did curses for hire and was feared and pitied by the less deliberately psychotic Wiccans, the rest still fails.
In episode 10 of the 5th season of Bones, Daisy repeatedly claims that it was more likely that Jesus was born in March than December, and that early Christians celebrated his birth in that month. It's long been debated when Jesus was born, for both month and year (or, in some cases, whether or not there even was a historical Jesus), but no evidence is offered that early Christians celebrated it in March. On the contrary, all evidence suggests they celebrated it in December (as for whether or not that was when he was actually born, see Artistic License - Traditional Christianity) and his conception in March (Feast of the Annunciation).
In the third season of Veronica Mars, Piz starts ranting on his radio show about how even though he is a Catholic school boy, the concept of Purgatory completely baffles him. He then goes on to completely incorrectly explain it as the place for people not good enough for Heaven (a common misconception among non-Catholics and Catholics alike, so maybe this is Truth in Television?) Purgatory is the place of purification for souls on their way to Heaven in which the temporal effects of their sins are cleansed.
Then there's that episode of LOST where Mr. Eko tells Claire that the dove that appeared after Jesus' baptism signified that John had cleansed Jesus of his sins. Actually, being the Son of God, Jesus was sinless, and the Dove was another way that God claimed Jesus as his son. This can partially be explained by Eko not being a real priest, but actually a drug runner who caused the death of his brother (who was an actual priest) then became a "priest" to atone for this. Guess he didn't have much time to learn theology... This may also be a belief in the heterodox doctrine Adoptionism (which again shows he is not a real Catholic priest).
In one episode of Psych a priest, who's supposed to be an experienced exorcist, immediately jumps to the conclusion that a girl was possessed because she had been having mood swings. He later then shows up to perform an exorcism on another girl without even taking any steps to find out if she was really possessed (I.E. sending her to a doctor or a psychologist, or even just interviewing her himself).
Sadly, this can be Truth in Television if we're talking about clergy from some of the flakier Charismatic or Fundamentalist Protestant sects, some of whom will do exorcisms at the drop of a hat. But a Roman Catholic priest? Either he's a little loopy himself and/or acting without any official authority, in which case he'd get in big trouble with both secular and ecclesiastical authorities.
On the TV miniseries Roots, the people in Kunta Kinte's village are shown to be Muslim, and the women of the village walk around topless. The problem is that if the women were Muslim, they would certainly not be topless in public. The only specific command in the Qur'an about female modesty is that they must cover their breasts (it's probably Fanservice).
In the Mysterious Ways episode "29," a man sees the number 29 drawn by a toy pendulum during an earthquake and believes the apocalypse will occur on the 29th of the month, as the number 29 is always associated with disaster. Among the reasons he gives is "Many people believe Christ died at 29." Not only is Christ's death the opposite of a disaster, in Christian theology, but no one, or close to it, believes Christ died at 29.note Google it for yourself. The most common age suggested is 30 or 33. Miranda's reaction (an annoyed "'Many people'?") possibly suggests that the error is the character's, not the writers'.
There's also an in-universe case in the series finale "Something Fishy," in which fish rain from the sky onto a small town. One of the town's residents tries to explain the spiritual significance, but mixes up Bible stories as he does so, leading to tales of God punishing Pharaoh for not believing Noah (followed by Noah escaping the Parting of the Red Sea in his ark) and "mana from Heaven sent to the Israelites in the belly of the whale."
The portrayal of Wicca on the episode 'Red Rum' of The Mentalist was a source of much outrage to actual Wiccans and Neo-Pagans. In their eyes, the "Wiccanpriestess" on the show was pretentious, irresponsible, and utterly immoral. It goes without saying that while every religion abhors murder, using magic (considered a sacred gift from the God and Goddess) to murder someone is beyond blasphemy. The characters consider the religion of Wicca and the practice of witchcraft as interchangeable (though this mistake is made in real life too) and have very dismissive opinions on it. Rigsby even goes so far as calling it an "alternative lifestyle like Star Trek or yoga". While it could be seen that the "priestess" was an attention-seeking girl with no understanding of the faith she claimed to follow, viewers were not shown any contrast to this image, which is essential in portraying something that most viewers know little to nothing about.
An episode of Unsolved Mysteries claimed that a mortar and pestle are used in "Satanic rituals." Maybe, but it's more commonly used in gourmet cooking to grind spices and herbs, herbalism to mill herbs, compounding pharmacy to custom-create drugs, recreational pharmacy to mill "herbs," and millions of other uses. And the investigator immediately jumped to "Satanism."
The Criminal Minds episode "Minimal Loss" that deals with a hostage situation involving an isolated, self-sustaining religious commune that is similar to the real incidents at Waco and others, states the group had begun as libertarians, before turning religious-because, of course, "Libertarians aren't religious." Uh, no-many libertarians are, though granted, the movement itself is not religious. While a group could go from being libertarian to authoritarian regardless of having religious beliefs or not, the scenario the episode lays out seems pretty unlikely, to shift from libertarian community to apocalyptic cult.
In another episode, "Perennials," the suspect believes himself to be the reincarnation of a serial killer who died the day he was born, in the same hospital, and is killing the people he believes are reincarnations of the dead killer's victims, placing fly larvae by their bodies in the belief that it will make their souls be reborn into these instead of humans, so ending the cycle. Morgan states that "See, a fundamental tenet of reincarnation is that you can come back in any life form, not just human." Wrong-in some reincarnation beliefs, such as Hindus', this is true-others like the Druze, though, believe people are only reborn in human bodies, not animals. They also differ on whether people can be reborn into different sexes than they had before.
Stephen Colbert plays this for laughs on The Colbert Report. Although his character is (like him) a Catholic, the brand of Christianity he seems to follow appears to have more in common with the kind of apocalyptic Evangelical Protestantism that the right-wing pundits he parodies follow. This is evidenced by the fact that he keeps referring to the Rapture as though he believes it, when in fact it is most emphatically not Catholic doctrine. One suspects that this is an intentional joke for people who know their Catholic doctrine — which Colbert certainly does, seeing as he teaches Catholic Sunday School and is quite well-educated more generally.
In USA For Africa's We Are The World, a who's who of popular musicians sing about ending world hunger and the like. At one point they sing, "As God has shown us by turning stones to bread; that we all must lend a helping hand". They apparently confused the temptation of Jesus, in which Satan tries to convince Jesus to turn stone to bread and end his fast, with Exodus, in which God causes nourishing manna to fall from the sky to feed the Israelites, or with the Miracle of Loaves and Fishes, in which Jesus asked one follower to share his lunch with over five thousand others, and they ended up with twelve baskets of leftovers, proving that a little kindness goes a long way.
"Psalm 69" by Ministry opens with a priest telling his congregation, "Open your prayer guides to the Book of Revelation, Psalm 69." There are no psalms in the Book of Revelation. Those would be found in the Book of Psalms.
According to urban legend, a Japanese department store put a display of Santa Claus nailed to a cross up for Christmas.
Members of many religions are often not familiar with the actual dogma of their churches and thus accept popular culture versions at being doctrine when they are not.
Many Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod members are unaware that their doctrine states that the Catholic office of the pope is the Antichrist.
Many Catholics are unaware that Catholic doctrine (and the Catholic Church) does not disagree with the theory of evolution, but does disagree with the Rapture.
The devil got the name "Lucifer" from Milton's Paradise Lost; there is no biblical support for him having that name. Rather, it's a metaphor from the Book of Daniel (which didn't even have anything to do with Satan) that became associated with him-"How thou art fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, star of the morning" specifically, which referred to Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar having fallen from power by the time morning came, as predicted by the "writing on the wall" prophecy. Milton also came up with the "war in heaven" and "Satan is lord of hell" tropes-in the Bible, Satan's not lord of hell; rather, it's his (eventual) destination.
Limbo was a concept created by Dante in the Divine Comedy; its existence is not doctrine to any church.
It's unlikely that either Milton or Dante invented these concepts. Rather, they formalized a series of already existing folk-beliefs into their famous works. It has to be remembered that the Christianity as practiced by the priesthood and the Christianity practiced by the commoners differed from each other a fair bit in the Middle Ages, and the Christianity of the nobility was slightly different still.
As already clarified, Limbo has never been part of the official Catholic doctrine (in 1984 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger called it a "Theological hypothesis"), but it's not something Dante made up. It just never became part of the Canon. Various Ecumenical Councils mentioned it and Pope Pious X indicated it as the place where the souls of infants who died before being baptized were meant to go.
Tabletop Roleplaying Games
Almost anything in the World of Darkness series, New World Of Darkness or Old World Of Darkness, is likely to run up against this, although the new system is far better at just inventing new fake religions for characters than trying to ham-handedly wedge actual religion into the games. The Long Night is a good example of one of these made up religions.
Completely justified in Bioshock Infinite, where Zachary Comstock creates a new religion for his beloved Columbia meant to embody the purest ideals of Eagleland. The end result is a mishmash of Catholicism, Baptism, Protestant Evangelicalism, Mormonism and a personality cult, with a bit of Judaism thrown in for good measure (the "it would have been enough" sermon the preacher gives at the beginning of the game was confirmed by Word Of God to be a rewriting of Dayenu). He also ends up deifying the three Founding Fathers who, if they were alive at the time, who were probably the least willing to be accepted as spiritual figures, and replaces the Father/Son/Holy Spirit with Founder/Fathers/Lord. In that order.
The Last Resurrection portrays Jesus (the game's final boss) as being personally responsible for crusades, inquisitions, witch-burnings and Nazism; during the ending sequence the heroes conclude that world peace will not be achieved until all religions are abolished.....I don't think I need to explain in anymore detail why this belongs here.
Okami portrays Amaterasu as a goddess in the form of a wolf, when her sacred animals were Ravens and Crows, and occasionally horses. While it arguably draws inspiration from Ainu wolf worship, it can't really be justifable because a) it's like depicting Odin as boar because boars were relevant in Norse Mythology, and b) not all other kami are depicted as wolves.
Modern Wiccans (or those who claim to be) are skewered in this strip from Something Positive, though Davan fails to point out that no one was burned at Salem. This is a fairly accurate (if slightly exaggerated) depiction of what some Wiccans refer to as "fluffy bunnies" — people (usually teens) who think that all they need to be a real Wiccan is to read a few books on it and buy a few supplies. Outrageously, patently false past lives are not unheard of among fluffies, either.
An episode of The Simpsons had Flanders do some home television, reenacting Cain's murder of Abel. Then his kids asked how there came into being more humans when Cain and Abel were the only two humans (followed by asking whether or not Cain and Abel had children with each other). Flanders has a snide remark with the implication that the kids shouldn't be reading too much into it (an indication he doesn't really know). However, The Bible makes it clear that Adam and Eve later had other children so they weren't the only two humans; the first one was named Seth. Cain is also explicitly stated to have had a wife in the Land of Nod. While where they came from isn't made clear, this trope is in effect because Flanders's kids asked if Cain and Abel had sex with each other and produced children that way, and Flanders never corrected them.
In another episode, "Lisa the Skeptic", somebody digs up what appears to be an angel's skeleton. Lisa, as the title would suggest, is the only person to suspect it's fake. All of the other people in town, including Reverend Lovejoy, criticize her for her lack of faith. Except that, according to Christian tradition, angels do not have physical bodies and cannot die. Therefore even those who believe in angels, especially the minister, should have called it out as a fake from the beginning.
When Homer and Bart convert to Catholicism in "The Father, the Son, and the Holy Guest Star", Marge is given a glimpse of Catholic Heaven (with Mariachi, Pinatas, spaghetti dinners, Irish pubs, Riverdance, and fist fighting) and Protestant Heaven (portrayed as a boring country club with badminton and croquet, and everyone talking in vaguely East Coast accents). At one point it's revealed that Jesus himself has been hanging out in Catholic Heaven a lot, leading one of the Protestants to cluck, "He's gone native" - which would suggest that Jesus is a Protestant, despite living 1,500 years before Protestantism existed. What makes this really absurd is that Jesus was neither Catholic nor Protestant: he was Jewish. However this was done intentionally for laughs .
In the American Dad episode "Rapture's Delight," Stan expects the Rapture despite being an Episcopalian. The whole episode follows the Rule of Funny by overdramatizing even the already overdramatized ideas perpetuated by things such as the Left Behind books. A lot of stuff doesn't match up with even the most rudimentary aspects of Rapture belief.
The episode Seasons Beatings, Stan is excommunicated from 'all of Christianity'. Um... only Catholicism has Excommunication, its one of the reasons why Protestantism was formed. So yeah... another anti-Religion joke ill thought out by Seth's writers.
It also strange that this one church Stan happens to go to apparently has the power to ban people from ALL of Christianity including different forms, branches, and sects of Christianity. Which isn't even remotely possible.
In fact the episode falls in this categories (seriously you can have a drinking game with the number of examples this one episode provides). For example, why would the weapons needed to kill the Antichrist be at the Vatican, when the Antichrist isn't even Catholic doctrine. Another example would be that Stan was not allowed to enter the Vatican because he is no longer a Christian. Yeah that's right, non-Christians are not allowed to enter this Catholic building when in real life anyone can enter the Vatican, even in restricted areas, so long as you buy a ticket. Also, the Bible never talks about Satan having children (though it's been a popular folk idea). And to top it all off, at the end we see the Antichrist sporting the upside down cross, even though it's not really a Satanic symbol (I know most people don't know this, but one would assume that the Antichrist of all people would know).
While the non-Christian thing is silly, Catholicism is a form of Christianity so all Catholics are Christians. A Christian is someone who follows a religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ.
That is true in a very broad very generalized sense, but there are many differences that separate Protestantism and Catholicism. So it would be very odd that Catholics are banning non-Protestants from their church, when they themselves are not Protestant.
This also raises the question why would the Vatican even care if a Protestant (a person from a completely different branch of Christianity) is banned from there.
8 Played for laughs in the "Jewbilee" episode of South Park. Judaism is portrayed as the worship of Moses, who takes the form of the Master Control Program from TRON and has an obsession with children's arts and crafts. Haman, from the Book of Esther, is portrayed as a demonic creature that is worshiped by the denomination of Anti-Semitic Jews. Since Matt Stone is half-Jewish, it's obvious this all falls under the Rule of Funny.
In "Cartmanland", Kyle's parents try to restore his faith in God by reading him the story of Job, but stop at the point where Job is stricken with boils, declaring that to be where the story ends. The account of Job actually ends with Job gaining a new family and twice the amount of wealth he had lost (unsurprisingly, Kyle's faith is not restored).
The episode "Probably (2)" featured everyone going to Hell except for Mormons. Mormons believe that only the truly wicked go to Hell (called "Outer Darkness") and not because they were not Mormon. However, in the South Park universe, hell is only bad if you were a bad person, otherwise it's not that bad. The Mormons go to heaven so they don't ruin hell for everyone else. Saddam's going to Heaven (with the Mormons) is actually depicted as punishment.
Family Guy does not seem to know the difference between the defined Catholic dogma of purgatory and the theory of limbo. Apparently their justification for Peter's stereotypes about Jews in the "When You Wish Upon a Weinstein" episode was that much of what Peter knows about his own Catholic faith is stereotypes.
Seth MacFarlane is obviously a pretty big fan of Rule of Funny and generally just doesn't care, but his use of Jewish symbols is, unsurprisingly, way off the mark. In at least a couple episodes of Family Guy he shows Jews wearing prayer shawls at the wrong times (either outside of prayer, or at nighttime services when they are not worn), and on The Cleveland Show at one point, in a fantasy cutaway, it shows Cleveland reciting Kol Nidre, the Aramaic annulment of vows that begins Yom Kippur, by reading it from a Torah scroll. It is a legal declaration, not a Biblical passage, and is certainly not found in the Torah (it's not even in the same language).
Just to go into detail for those who don't know how this joke fails on a number of different levels. First the joke implies that there were no religions before Christianity (aka the BC period) which is clearly false, one doesn't even need to know too much about history to figure that one out. Second the joke also implies that where was no war or violence before the creation of Christianity which is also not true. For prove of all this just look in every history book ever made!So one could see this joke not only fails when it comes to religion but also fails when it comes to history to the point where even rule of funny doesn't change the fact that it's clearly wrong. whether this clear lack of research was intentionally (for so reason) or not is arguable either way that also doesn't change the fact that it is wrong.
In the episode "The Road to the Multiverse" Stewie and Brian traveled to a universe where Christianity never existed. The world is considerably more advanced than our world. Their justification for this was if Christianity was gone there would be no "Dark Ages". That’s right the fall of the Roman empire, the Bubonic Plague, and the raids by the Great Heathen Army (aka the Great Danish Army) and other nations had nothing to do with it. It was all Christianity's fault! Let's ignore the fact that all the information we have from that time came from those Christian churches, and that they were the closest thing to schools they had at that time. Yeah the Crusader wars were terrible, but the information we got from those wars allowed the early Western society to bring themselves back up to speed with the rest of the world (believe it or not the early Western society was in pretty bad shape after the Bubonic Plague, and the raids by the Great Heathen Army). The Crusades were not, originally, as much of a religious conflict as their reputation implies. Not to say Christianity was completely blameless, but to say that Christianity alone caused the Dark Ages is like saying that WWI was all Austria's fault.
Not to mention, as the that "Friends of Peter G" example above points out, there were OTHER faiths before Christanity, so one of them would have taken it's place or a new one would come into existence.
Done satirically in The Boondocks. Uber-naïve Jasmine DuBois not only believes that Christmas is a celebration ofSanta Claus, but that he is the central figure that all of Christianity revolves around.
Scooby Doo And The Witchs Ghost had a character identify as one-sixteenth Wiccan, which would make sense if Wicca doubled as an ethnic identity like Judaism, but it doesn't. They also push the age of Wicca back at least to the Salem witch trials, whereas in fact it dates from the 20th century (so to be one-sixteenth Wiccan, which would take five generations, is only barely possible even if you involve a lot of squick). In the finale, this means (and somehow it's Daphne who just intuitively knows this, and not the one-sixteenth Wiccan herself) that she can cast magic, defeating the evil Witch. Oh yes, in this movie, Wiccans are good, and Witches are evil, doesn't everybody know that?