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Why do you let bad things happen?
More to the point,
Why do you let bad things happen to
Some characters have a very immature relation to God
or His local equivalent
. "God loves ME
, not you, and He will provide me with anything I want." This comes in two main variations with two main variants each.
- Faith: Bob has this mindset about God.
1A - Bratty Faith: Bob is religious, and expects God to take care of him and his life, favoring him over everyone else. Even if Bob is a fully-grown adult, he comes across as if he's a spoiled bratty five-year-old and God is a regular over-worked parent. Likely to also be a Windmill Crusader.
1B - Whiny Faith: Bob is not religious (either as in "not very religious" or as in Hollywood Atheist), but keeps whining at God that he would believe in Him if He just started pampering him. This may be combined with a legitimate Rage Against the Heavens, or a game of Religious Russian Roulette.
- Accusation: Bob has this mindset about Alice, expecting her to have this mindset about God. Thus he steers the conversation in this direction, trying to expose Alice as having the "Spoiled Brat Of The Lord" kind of conceited "personal relationship with Jesus".
2A - False Accusation: Bob turns out to be wrong about Alice, looking rather silly in the process.
2B - Insightful Accusation: Bob is right, and Alice is probably a Straw Loser.
A believer who thinks this way is likely to engage in Activist Fundamentalist Antics
. Conversely, someone who believes all
religious people think like this is probably a Hollywood Atheist
In fairness, if God Is Good
then it's quite reasonable to believe He will do good things for people. But most religions also teach the importance of having due humility
about it. After all, God is, well, God
, meaning He's under no obligation to take anyone's orders
, though He may be open to discussing the point
. He's also well known for working In Mysterious Ways
that may not always be what His followers expect or want.
Compare Holier Than Thou
, Hiding Behind Religion
, The Fundamentalist
, The Hedonist
and The Presents Were Never from Santa
. See also Religious Russian Roulette
, Deus ex Machina
, and Prayer Is a Last Resort
. Contrast Pals with Jesus
and Clap Your Hands If You Believe
for when the character actually
has the benefit of divine favor. This phenomenon has been called "vicarious autotheism" outside This Wiki
No Real Life Examples, Please!
Not only would it be Flame Bait
, but this is also one of those tropes that most people can agree is common in Real Life
but can't agree what cases are examples and what cases are not. As with most religion tropes, the Rule of Cautious Editing Judgment
open/close all folders
- Chick Tracts goes both ways on this issue, encouraging this mindset in evangelical Christians while frequently having An Aesop about how this mindset in people of other faiths open them up for demonic temptation.
- One Nemi strip uses a straight Insightful Accusation, in a conversation between the protagonist and a fundamentalist. Nemi gives a long speech about a hypothetical person who is clearly Too Good for This Sinful Earth, and then asks The Fundamentalist if she really thinks that this woman should be tortured in hell forever for not sharing her exact beliefs, while she gets to be rewarded forever for happening to belong to the exactly right version of Christianity. Her answer is simply "Jesus loves ME". Nemi's reply to that is "Good, because the rest of us think you're a jerk".
- In Persepolis, the child Marjane has God as her Imaginary Friend. She even thought she'd become the last prophet of Islam. Her growing out of it and becoming an atheist, after the Islamic government has her beloved uncle executed, is portrayed as a quite age-appropriate temper tantrum where she yelled at God in a mix of this trope and Rage Against the Heavens.
- Occurs at one point in Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose. After Tarot saves a young boy, his mother starts harassing her for her "sinful" and "heathen" ways, when a priest interjects and calls the woman out on her behavior. She tries to justify herself by claiming that she's "trying to be a good Christian", but he tells her she should try to be a good person first (Tarot, being a devout Wiccan and witch, is rather surprised to see a priest take her side for once.)
- Star Saber of Transformers: More than Meets the Eye is an extreme example of False Accusation towards basically all other Cybertronians. He believes everything he does, up to and including genocide, is ordained by Primus and that anyone who disagrees is either an atheist or an apostate deserving of death and/or torture.
- Sunshine has Pinbacker, the captain of the Ikarus 1 who goes insane during his mission. Convinced that God has spoken to him, Pinbacker believes that God has destined humanity to die and that humans have no right to restart the sun. Pinbacker sabotages the Ikarus 1 mission and almost stops the Ikarus 2 mission (nearly dooming humanity to extinction in the process) in the name of his deity.
- Bruce Almighty starts out as an example of Whiny Faith, with Bruce constantly whining to God about everything that isn't perfect in his life. This bites Bruce in the ass when he meets God Himself and basically says "Well, Let's See You Do Better". Bruce accepts... and things go wrong. Very wrong.
- Without a doubt, Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. This trope defines his character and forms the essence of his Villain Song- the chorus to "Hellfire" is the Confiteor, a Latin Catholic prayer of confession about taking responsibility for ones own sins, and are sung in direct and intentional contrast with what Frollo himself is singing. The bit where they chant "Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa" ("through my fault, through my most grevious fault") is where he blames his lust for Esmerelda on Esmerelda herself, on the Devil, even on God, everyone but himself; "Kyrie Eleison" ("God have mercy") occurs just before he sings "she will be mine or SHE WILL BURN!". The rest of his song is about how he is so much holier and therefore better than the masses and everyone else, and near the end calls a guard an idiot before deciding to burn down Paris to find Esmerelda and either force her to be with him or destroy her if she refuses and for "making" him sin. Once or twice in the film it looks like even he thinks he's going too far, but he ignores this as this would mean accepting that he is less than perfect and in the right.
- One classic joke: A man is notified that his house is going to be flooded and he needs to get out of the house. He says "No I don't have to, God is going to take care of me." Then the flood starts to rise and a sheriff comes along and tells him to get out. The man says "No, God is going to save me." So, the floods continue to rise, and he climbs on top of the house. A boat comes along and he's told to climb into the boat. He says, "No, no, God is going to save me." Finally, a helicopter comes along and they lower the net to rescue him. The man says, "No, no, God is going to save me!" Well, the man drowns and goes to heaven. When he gets to heaven he says to God, "Why didn't you save me?" God says, "I sent the sheriff, I sent a boat, I sent a helicopter, what more did you want me to do?"
- It's old enough that a version appears in Aesop with the punchline "Start swimming and help Minerva."
- Another joke: A man is praying daily for God to let him win the lottery. Finally, after weeks of not winning, he asks God why he's not helping him. A booming voice replies from the heavens, "I'd love to, but you have to buy a lottery ticket."
- Two men, one a very devoutly religious man, and the other an atheist live next door to each other. The religious man though is troubled, because he has a low-paying, unsatisfying job, his once-beautiful wife has let herself go, and his children are disrespectful underachievers. What really bothers him is that the atheist guy next door seems to have it all: a well-paying job that he enjoys, a beautiful wife, and well-behaved, high-achieving children. So the religious man falls to his knees, asking God why he is poor and unsatisfied even though he goes to church every week, reads The Bible, and prays several times daily, yet the man next door who never does any of these things has everything a man could want. And God replies "Because he doesn't bother me all the time!"
- In The Bible,
- The book of Job is a straight 2A - the "false accusation" version of this trope - with The Devil ending up in the role of Asshole Loser for accusing Job of being this.
- The group of pharisees in the New Testament were a type A, which makes it ironic when they didn't recognize said Lord when He appeared to them disapproving of their hypocrisy and arrogance.
- The Book Of Jonah deconstructs the trope by having God himself call Jonah out for being more concerned about losing a vine that gave him shade than about getting tens of thousands of people in Nineveh to repent.
- In Our Man In Havana, James is not religious, but swore to his wife that he would raise their daughter Milly as a devoted Catholic. Milly seems to take advantage of this trope—if she prays for some gift then James has to get it for her, because if Milly doesn't get what she prays for she might lose the faith.
Live Action TV
- In Falling Skies, Karen pulls this accusation on Lourdes in the pilot episode, taunting her for being a Christian by requesting that she pray forth a B2 Bomber for them. Lourdes soundly rebuffs this, thus turning the accusation back on Kaen by showing it to be a false accusation.
- Battlestar Galactica's Gaius Baltar becomes an example of Bratty Faith after Head-Six convinces him he's an instrument of God.
- Played with in 7th Heaven at least once. In a later season, the dad (a reverend) has a heart attack and ends up being ready to give up not just his job but his entire faith in God as a result of having to confront his mortality like this. In the end, IIRC, his Rabbi friend has to come remind him that God doesn't really play favorites, even good and devout people will still encounter personal suffering.
- A sinister example in the Midsomer Murders episode Echoes Of The Dead where The Fundamentalist, hitherto regarded as a naive, gentle and innocent Noble Bigot type at worst, turns out to be a Serial Killer. He tries to keep his act up and come across as a Tragic Villain Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, a mentally disturbed type who honestly thought he was doing the right thing ("saving" sinners by killing them, so they stop sinning), but Barnaby pulls a Shut Up, Hannibal! on him and calls him out as a narcissistic bastard who knows full well what he is doing and was just killing people he didn't like For the Evulz. However, he is still presented as a believer, just one who happened to think murder made him like God.
- In Hannibal, Hannibal Lecter justifies his serial murders to himself by arguing that God loves killing, and humans are made in God's image (in a scene copied word-for-word from the movie Manhunter, though "Lektor" in that film was trying to frighten Will while Hannibal here was trying to intrigue him). He arrogantly believes that he understands the Almighty, judging from his conversation with the "muralist". Hannibal murders the "muralist" serial killer by installing him in his own eye-shaped "mural" in such a way as to symbolically reflect the light of God.
- Later on, Will asks Hannibal what he thinks about when he kills; Hannibal replies that he thinks about God. It is strongly implied that, furthering the Luciferian subtext, Hannibal honestly believes that he himself is like God and every sadistic thing that he does is in imitation of God. It is also strongly implied, therefore, that Hannibal is pathologically incapable of not thinking of everyone else, even people he likes and otherwise cares about, as fundamentally inferior to and less important than himself.
- It should be noted that, in keeping with the literary Hannibal (who is strongly implied to be a misotheist- ie. he hates God and thinks he is evil, making him a Straw Nihilist who thinks torture-murder is fine since divine justice is a lie), Lecter seems to view actual religious people (or at least, those of the Abrahamic faith) with a mixture of amusement or contempt; referencing, for instance, his twisted "hobby" of collecting newspaper articles of churches collapsing and killing the congregations, since those who love God are still killed by him. Hannibals' justification for his psychological torture of people like Will- whom he sincerely views as a friend, even surrogate family- is that God does whatever he likes to those who love him, and therefore so can Hannibal, because both of them are Above Good and Evil.
- Margaret Tudor in the TV adaptation of The Cousins War Series.
- In Genesis' song Jesus He Knows Me, the Scam Religion Straw Hypocrite preacher caters to this mentality.
- Parodied by the Austin Lounge Lizards with their song, "Jesus Loves Me (But He Can't Stand You)":
I know you smoke, I know you drink that brew
I just can't abide a sinner like you
Y'know, God can't either, that's why I know it to be true
That, uh, Jesus loves me, but he can't stand you
- Jonathan Coulton's song "Gambler's Prayer" features a person like this. He's not praying to get over his gambling addiction.
Deal me good cards and I'll handle the math
We'll take their money while they take a bath
I'll show them my hand, you'll show them your wrath
Oh Lord, help me take money from my friends
- Many Blutengel lyrics present the vampires as abusive and murderous. In Save Our Souls, they finally start worrying about how bad their behavior is... for their own mental health. They still care nothing for their victims, praying only for their own souls.
We fight against, everything and everyone
With every war, we try to make our kingdom come
Every day we lose ourselves, more and more
But still we pray, for someone to save our souls
- The Caerns sourcebook for Werewolf: The Apocalypse provides information on Zhyzhak, the game's signature Black Spiral Dancer and warder of the Trinity Hive Caern. Zhyzhak believes that she understands Grammaw (the colossal thunderwyrm revered as a goddess by the Trinity Hive) better than anyone else, and resents the deference that other Trinity elders receive due to their knowledge of Grammaw.
- In Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye constantly and very self-consciously walks the thin line between a polite personal relationship with God and being an example of both Bratty and Whiny Faith. Ultimately he averts actually being this trope, but he Apologizes a Lot for it anyways.
- A Get Back Here Boss in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood continually rattles on how God's on his side throughout the whole chase/fight. If you actually do catch up to him and manage to hurl him over the side of a railing, there's a special cutscene where Ezio grabs him before he falls away. "Haha! You saved me! I told you God was on my side!" However, Ezio was only grabbing him to get the key from him before he fell away, and lets go right after.
- Karras from Thief, in spades. "Praise be to Karras!... and The Builder."
- The Chantry in the Dragon Age franchise. They spread the word of the Maker by the sword instead of the word, and have no mind for tolerance. There's no better illustration in this than Sister Petrice in Dragon Age II, particularly in her first quest. When you come back after finding out that she attempted to have you killed by qunari, when you call her out on it she actually has the nerve to say "You stand there using one of their words and you dare to lecture me?"
- In Arthur, King of Time and Space, Guinevere's initial attitude to Lancelot is of the False Accusation variety.
- Miko Miyazaki in The Order of the Stick, as her sanity unravelled, started believing she was specially chosen by her gods to fulfill some special purpose. Even having her paladin powers removed by said gods in a direct intervention did nothing to dissuade her, leading to one of the comic's greatest Nice Job Breaking It, Hero moments and her death.
- Seymore in Webcomic/Sinfest thinks he is God's BFF, and writes Jesus fanfics. He gets enraged when armageddon keeps not happening.
- On Daria, Quinn becomes a sympathetic version of 1A for an episode—after avoiding an accident, she comes to believe she has a guardian angel who will help her with whatever she needs. After a Humiliation Conga at a party she believes that she's been abandoned. A conversation with Daria helps her realize that she's been overly reliant on her hypothetical angel.
- On God, the Devil and Bob, Bob often asks for favors and becomes upset when God fails to provide them; this can shift between 1A and 1B, since he literally has a special relationship with God but doesn't act particularly devout.
- In addition, he once came to believe that being God's prophet meant God was protecting him from any harm, causing him to take dangerous risks (including ultimately sky-diving without a parachute). In reality, he'd just had a lot of dumb luck recently.
- One episode of The Simpsons has Homer become this, endlessly praying to God for good luck or indulgences, which actually come true. He returns the favor later on by suing the church following an accident.
- Though not as evident an example, Ned Flanders sometimes becomes this in his Christian overzealousness, sometimes showing a condescending view of God's treatment towards others or praying for his good will for even minor things like winning a game of bowling (mind you, this one works). He's usually not nearly as bad as Homer thinks however. It's also very much Depending on the Writer.
- In the South Park episode "Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride" Jimbo starts praying to Jesus to give their team one last score to beat the spread. Jesus, who is also in the crowd, tells Jimbo to leave him alone.
- The Mole from the movie is a case of 1B. He hates God and regularly cusses him out because he never did anything for him.