Acceptable Religious Appropriation:

Total posts: [6]
1 TheMuse1st Mar 2013 06:22:05 AM , Relationship Status: Browsing the selection
So there are a couple Fantasy Counterpart Culture s in my series and I used inspiration from anicient mythology, etc. for worldbuilding the religions in this world. The only problem with this that there could be potentially is with the approriation of real world religions could possibly be misinterpreted as disrespectful. Is there anything that I should do to ensure I avoid this?

2 SalmonPunch1st Mar 2013 07:18:51 AM from Connecticutt, USA
I never asked for this

The answer is that you have to do research about the religion your basing it off of until all your preconceptions about that relgion are replaced with actual facts. People would be more offended if you got something wrong out of ignorance or styled it after their steryotype than if you changed it for narritive quality. And its very, very obvious to tell which is which.

edited 1st Mar '13 7:19:16 AM by SalmonPunch

"You like Castlevania, don't you?"
And, really, you shouldn't model any constructed religion too much after any real-world religion, both out of respect and for the sake of not rehashing the Abrahamic religions, Neopaganism/Wicca, and/or Greco-Roman, Egyptian, or Norse pantheon(s) for the millionth time. These religions developed under specific circumstances, so it's rather contrived to expect fictional religions to develop the same way under different circumstances.
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It's a bit of a red flag if your priority is to avoid looking like you're being disrespectful, instead of something like making sure you're actually showing the appropriate amount of respect. People of a certain religion may well consider it disrespect if you're not presenting it accurately enough because it indicates you don't care about the religion itself so much as how it is a useful tool to you; it's not as simple as merely not deriding people with those beliefs or similar.

I'll second what Salmon Punch said, if showing respect is what you want. Research until you understand at least the basic precepts of the religion and how those tie into more peripheral aspects of said religion, particularly the specific bits you're using. But if it's just the impression you care about, I don't think most ancient religions have a huge following or anything, so while it'd be good to research enough to avoid getting facts wrong, you don't have to worry too much about it.
You will not go to space today.
There's such a thing as Anime Catholicism, and the intent is never to present the story as "This is what the Catholic church is like in real life". If you're writing fantasy and science fiction, there's no reason why you should be overly concerned with "Am I gonna piss someone off?", because it is not a true representation of the true faith. However, if you're writing historical or contemporary fiction, then you should definitely gather as many facts as you can find - start with wikipedia, but don't stop there - read books, visit various websites, watch the history channel, do whatever it takes to get true information. If it's non-historical/non-contemporary fiction, though, you have creative license, and intelligent readers are not easily offended.
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6 Sharysa31st Mar 2013 02:00:30 PM from Alameda, CA , Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
The local bard
What everyone else said, with the side-note of: Appropriation is when you "cherry-pick" different elements and use them out of their cultural context, but homages/shout-outs are when you keep the SPIRIT of the religion even when you change things to suit the world.

Also keep in mind that the vast majority of writers with a "pagan" pantheon tend to ACTUALLY have a pseudo-Wiccan pantheon, with a God-and-Goddess apex couple who embody pretty much everything and get most of the IN-STORY worship. There are maybe a few vague hunting/household/childbirth gods wandering around in the background, but they rarely if ever get any in-story worship.

Please note that I don't think Wicca is BAD, it just ends up being overrepresented because most pagan literature and practice (especially European paganism) is either fragmented heavily or Hijacked by Jesus.

If you want to draw on an ACTUAL pagan pantheon, you would need to research various pantheons and see which of them can be tailored the easiest to your story. If not, just make up your own and keep the following details in mind.

For example, my story has a civil war going on. I have a sun/moon apex-couple who are technically the highest-ranking in the pantheon, but seeing as the country's in a war, the only people who actually pray in-story to the highest deities are the royal family. And even then, the king is from a different country and prays to HIS highest-deity because that's who he was raised with, while the queen and their children are native.

Most other characters are praying to the god of warfare for protection/morale, the god of the hearth for protecting their families/children/homes, and one of my protagonists is foreign. She's really desperate for help from her god of love because 1) she really wants her lover the prince to stay alive, and 2) love-gods tend to be the most understanding when you went through a HUGE amount of trauma that you aren't ready to talk to other people about.

Three different countries, two in-story issues, about half a dozen gods being name-dropped. That's how most paganism works.

edited 31st Mar '13 2:05:49 PM by Sharysa

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Total posts: 6