Being tolerant of one another's religious beliefs is very important (in many 20th & 21st Century cultures, at least — and let's just exercise discretion towards historical and current exceptions). In works created by people from those cultures, if someone says something is against their religion, other characters think they can't make them do it. Now that person might be telling Blatant Lies to get out of doing that thing, but it might be the truth. Other characters are likely not going to press that character about it.
If the character is trying to make a point in The War on Straw, or simply Hiding Behind Religion to avoid some unpleasant obligation, they may invoke (or create) a Parody Religion that just so happens to be against the thing they don't want to do. Freedom of religion does entail that you are legally allowed to hold any creed you choose to believe, so Loophole Abuse may ensue.
Comes up a lot with someone Raised Catholic, Good Girls Avoid Abortion in particular. Of course, in Real Life, many practices considered common by the majority may be expressly forbidden to people of a particular religious group. A common loophole use of this in real life is that some religions believe people have intellect, guardian angels, or a conscious that enables them to judge things as wrong that are not explicitly banned by their religion, and then requires they do what they think/feel/believe/know is right. Therefore, they are able to attribute their personal judgement as religious mandates.
In fantasy and sci-fi settings, religious mandates of various kinds may lead to Fantastic Religious Weirdness, depending on just what those mandates and restrictions are.
In case of extrovert Serious Business, see instead Windmill Crusader, Soulsaving Crusader, Heteronormative Crusader, Moral Guardians and/or Activist Fundamentalist Antics. See also Culture Justifies Anything.
- In the English dub of the eighteenth episode of InuYasha, Miroku uses this excuse to try to get out of having to face a demon. Obviously a lie, since Miroku is a Buddhist monk whose job involves exorcising demons.
Miroku: If the demon is truly big, then we are no match for it. It's irrational. It's impossible. It's against my religion.
Inu-Yasha: You oughta be arrested.
- In season two of Black Lagoon, two bounty hunters are shown drinking milk at a bar. When asked why, one replies that drinking alcohol is against his religion. The other just doesn't like the taste of it.
- In Naruto, the very religious Hidan of the Akatsuki refers to this quite often. According to his cult-religion of Jashinism, it is a sin to leave a foe/enemy/victim alive; they must be defeated and slaughtered in the most painful, blood-gushingest way possible. Hidan also calls on Kakuzu when they have to break into a temple, saying that it goes against his beliefs (probably because even if someone is crazy like him, you still don't invade or desecrate other peoples' houses of worship). And he also has a problem with Kakuzu's covetousness of money, because greed is probably also a misdemeanor to Jashin.
- In The DCU, a member of the Green Lantern Corps took a vow to never leave her planet as part of her religion. Forced to go against this vow during the Sinestro War, she's since returned to her planet and refuses to leave no matter what. Her church, however, has yet to welcome her back. Her sector partner is an atheist and has petitioned many times for a new partner.
- Subverted in Twisted Toyfare Theatre. The Thing claims to be Jewish, and therefore can't work on the Sabbath. Mr. Fantastic checks with his parents to find out that he actually is Jewish.
- In The MAD Book of Revenge, a student gets exempted from a surprise quiz by claiming it's "Simchas Stinkola", a religious holiday on which he's prohibited to write.
- In Demon Knights, the Muslim scientist Al-Jabr is sent to Hell thanks to yet another of Etrigan's betrayals. His version of Hell is a vast desert with a blazing sun, and the only thing available to quench his thirst is a canteen full of alcohol... which is, of course, against his religion.
- Since alcohol can make you thirstier, he's possibly better off without drinking it anyways. However, the demon in question also implies that any water he might come across could magically be transformed into alcohol when he drinks it, which leads to Al-Jabr refusing to drink anything at all while he's in the confines of Hell, even after his tormentor is apparently no longer paying attention to him. It's possible the demon specifically chose this as a double-edged torment of both the body and the mind for Al-Jabr, being already aware of his faith.
- In Legionnaires One Million, the 853rd-century version of Chameleon is religiously prohibited from using his shapeshifting abilities for anything except camouflage, and resents that his duties to the Legion often require him to violate his beliefs. This causes him to be an early suspect when the Legion is faced with sabotage.
- This is why the Cassandra Cain, who converted to Catholicism in Angel Of The Bat refuses to have premarital sex in its sequel. Indeed, intercourse out of wedlock is sinful in Catholicism but her girlfriend points out that's kind of a hypocritical stance for someone in a lesbian relationship.
- Various people in Undocumented Features claim that their religion requires them to carry weapons.
"First United Freespacer Church", Mac said quietly. "We have a moral aversion to getting killed."
- In Pokémon The Abridged Series, Pikachu refuses to go to the Poké Ball because of this.
- Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves featured Azeem, a Muslim who is forbidden by his faith from drinking alcohol. Friar Tuck doesn't have this limitation.
Friar Tuck: Let us open a bottle and do our best to save each other's souls.
Azeem: Alas, I am not permitted.
Friar Tuck: Fine then, you talk, I'll drink.
- Similarly in Pitch Black Imam refuses to drink liquor for the same reason, even though its the only thing drinkable for the moment. This is not well researched regarding Islam. Imam's position in the film is dire. Plus, he has two children to look after. He was stuck on a desert planet with no other food or water — in Islam, if the situation is dire enough to threaten one's life by lack of halal food and clean (no alcohol) drinks, Muslims are permitted to consume any available meat (meat of a lizard, meat of a dog or pig) or drink alcohol. Just to survive until help comes.
- Lydia in Beetlejuice only gets a C on a science test since she refuses to dissect a frog, citing this reason.
- The Big Lebowski has Jewish convert Walter, who initially refuses to drive to meet The Dude on Friday night because of the sabbath. The Dude reminds him that he was raised Polish Catholic and that he only converted to Judaism for his ex-wife, and Walter's a bit peeved by the implication that he should abandon his religion just because his wife left him.
- Played with in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. C-3PO is mistaken by the Ewoks as one of their gods, so Han asks him to order the Ewoks to let them go. Threepio responds "It's against my programming to impersonate a deity." Later on, though, he does order the Ewoks to let them go, but they don't care... until Luke helps by using the Force to make Threepio "display" godly powers.
- Matewan: The Hutterite conscientious objectors Kenehan met in Fort Leavenworth military prison were imprisoned there because they were religious pacifists who refused to fight, and then tore the buttons off the prison uniforms they were made to wear, since these were also forbidden to them, causing brutal punishment from the guards.
- In 12/12/12, the parents try to refuse a Caesarean on the grounds that it's against their religion, but are overruled by the doctors.
- Female Agents: Gaëlle refuses the cyanide capsule that all operatives are given to use if taken captive with this exact line, as she is a devout Catholic to whom suicide is a mortal sin. Later, after she is tortured into giving the others up, her resolve breaks and she uses it out of remorse.
- A lot of Jewish humor from the Borscht Belt period relies on this joke, as Judaism is a religion with a lot of seemingly-pointless prohibitions.
- One well-known joke: A Catholic priest is making fun of a rabbi. The priest holds up some bacon and jokingly asks the rabbi, "Rabbi, do you want some bacon?" The rabbi politely says, "Sorry, but it's against my religion." The priest says, "Are you sure? That's a shame. It's delicious!" The rabbi turns to him and asks, "Father, my regards to your wife!" The priest, stunned, says, "But... but... I'm not married! I can't get married! I'm a priest!" The rabbi smirks and says, "Are you sure? That's a shame. It's delicious!"
- Another joke: A rabbi is walking around the yeshiva (or Jewish religious school) one Sabbath, when he sees three students sitting in a room with the windows open, playing poker for money! The rabbi is outraged, since you aren't allowed to touch money on the Sabbath, and storms in. He turns to the eldest student, demanding an explanation. He says, "I'm sorry, Rabbi! I forgot that you aren't allowed to touch money on the Sabbath!" The rabbi turns to the middle student. He says, "I'm sorry, Rabbi! I forgot that it was the Sabbath today!" The rabbi is finding these excuses hard to believe, seeing as the eldest student had been studying at the yeshiva for years, and the middle student was at Shabbat services that morning. He turns to the youngest student and sarcastically says, "I imagine you forgot something as well." The student mutters, "I forgot to close the windows."
- In Thief of Time, the Auditors are disguised as humans, and avoid being forced to drink tea (because they're not used to having bodies, things like eating are harmful to them) with this trope. The Auditors have noted that people will justify the most extreme behavior on the same basis, so by comparison refusing to drink tea shouldn't raise any eyebrows.
- Moist von Lipwig uses it in Going Postal to avoid getting his picture taken, out of fear his un-memorable appearance, and through it the secret of his criminal past, won't survive a picture. Making Money proves him right.
- In the Assassins' Guild Yearbook, a long list of loophole-filling rules to prevent any attempt by students to have a pet crocodile is eventually forced to concede that none of these rules apply to worshipers of Offler the Crocodile God. Then they add a rule that any student claiming Offlerism will be quizzed on the subject, because religion is not a joking matter. Then they have to acknowledge that, to worshippers of Nog-Humpty the Custard God, it is a joking matter.
- Subverted with Mr. Dorfl. Normally golems like him take one day off a month because it is a "holy day", although they work 24/8 all other times. After gaining his freedom in Feet of Clay, Dorfl becomes an atheist and gives up this practice because he has decided that "either all days are holy or none are".
- One of the gods mentions in The Last Hero that he banned the practice of panupunitoplasty, a nonsense word he made up, just to mess with people. Another banned the eating of broccoli, reasoning that it lets his followers feel devout for not doing something nobody wants to do anyway
- In Monstrous Regiment the insane/dead god Nuggan has banned things like the color blue, garlic, and babies, among other things. New Abominations appear in his holy book daily.
- This shows up in some of the Star Trek novels.
- In How Much for Just the Planet? by John M. Ford, we have McCoy explaining why he, Sulu, and two Klingons won't Kneel Before Zod (the evil queen Janeka):
McCoy: You see, ma'am, these two gentlemen already have a dictator, it's against Mr. Sulu's religion... and I'm a democrat.
- In Spock - Messiah! by Theodore R. Cogswell and Charles A. Spano, Jr., the landing party are offered some very suspicious-looking stew which they turn down with the claim that they are religiously forbidden to eat meat on whatever day it currently is.
- In How Much for Just the Planet? by John M. Ford, we have McCoy explaining why he, Sulu, and two Klingons won't Kneel Before Zod (the evil queen Janeka):
- In Island in the Sea of Time, one of the protagonists won't prostrate himself before the ruler of Mesopotamia because "it is against our custom, and the law of our god." Possibly a Shout-Out to the Book of Daniel — the speaker is Jewish.
- In Everworld, April, whose Catholicism is regularly mentioned, refuses to make a sacrifice to the Physical Gods of Everworld-Africa. In an interesting twist, atheist Jalil joins her protest on the same logic. (Eventually, David and Christopher side with them, though more on the grounds of "screw these guys trying to tell us what to do" than anything.) Senna is disgusted by all of them, but more because they are putting Honor Before Reason than anything. (She, after all, wants to replace the gods.)
- A Series of Unfortunate Events: In the fifth book, Count Olaf disguises himself as the turban wearing "Coach Genghis" and claims he cannot remove his turban because of his religion. Of course, it's really to cover his single eyebrow, which is one of his identifying features.
- The Sidney Sheldon novel Nothing Lasts Forever has a Jehovah's Witness refusing to sign a consent form for his son to have surgery or receive a blood transfusion and the doctor in question forging his signature to go ahead. Once again, this distorts the truth—people can refuse for themselves but not their children, which means that the doctor could have found a legal means to sidestep his objections. Additionally, while Jehovah's Witnesses will refuse to receive transfusions and transplants, they are not opposed to receiving medical care, meaning that the man would probably have consented to the surgery even if adamant that his son not receive blood.
- In A Wolf In The Soul, Aram convinces Greg to eat a pepperoni pizza, defeating his objections by pointing out that Greg doesn't follow any of the other precepts of Judaism.
- The Ian McEwan novel The Children Act is about a judge who is trying to decide whether a boy with leukaemia should be forced to undergo a blood transfusion which is necessary to save his life, but which he is refusing: he's a Jehovah's Witness, and it's against his religion.
- In Warbreaker, this is Played for Laughs. Lightsong, a member of a Physical Religion who couldn't care less about actually being divine, says this about effort.
Lightsong: Well I cant get subtext either. Far too subtle for me. It takes effort to understand, and effort isunfortunatelyagainst my religion.
Blushweaver: A new tenet for those who worship you?
Lightsong: Oh, not that religion.
- In The Thin Blue Line, someone gets sick in Fowler's hat, and Fowler absentmindedly puts it on. When his superior shows up and want to know why Fowler isn't taking his hat off in respect, he claims to be a Sihk who is forbidden to bare his head.
- The Police Procedural nowadays often run into various religious groups who want to have a non-cut-up-body for burial. Depending on the religion and which Anvilicious Author Tract the writer wants to give this time, results will vary.
- In Real Life, medical examiners promise to do a "minimally invasive" autopsy in murder cases — which means of course that they do a complete and full autopsy, only making sure that fluids aren't spilled. This is understood not just by MEs but also by rabbis, since letting a murderer get away with a crime is always considered more of a problem than a respectful autopsy.
- A variant appears in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. A suspect in a number of rape/murders claims he's a Jehovah's Witness, and so the court cannot compel him to give blood for a DNA sample. This is circumvented when a brother of one of the victims attacks him, and he bites the brother during the fight. The saliva on the bite was "given voluntarily", so it can be legally used for the sample.
- This is Hollywood Law, actually-suspects have blood samples taken under court order routinely, and objecting "against my religion" is not going to stop it. Contrast that with Jehovah's Witnesses refusing blood transfusions, which has occurred and is legally their right, despite the objection of emergency medical staff.
- Speaking of Law & Order, it and several other legal dramas have trotted out episodes featuring parents being charged with murder for refusing to seek medical attention for their ill child, with their defense being that doing so violates the tenets of their religion.
- Medical dramas like this one too.
- The Mormon candidate for fellowship on House cited this as a reason not to drink alcohol for an unusual diagnosis procedure,note but House convinced him it was necessary and he did it anyway.
- In Keeping Up Appearances, (something happens or is said) prompting Onslow to state that having breakfast (in bed?) isn't against his religion. When asked what is, his wife jokes, "Getting (up? out of bed?) before (insert time here)!"
- Oz. Muslim prisoner Imam Kareem Said rejects Smug Snake Governor Devlin's politically-motivated pardon offer on live television by saying: "According to my religion, there are some things I am not allowed to swallow!"
- Babylon 5:
- One episode from the first season involved Franklin trying to save a boy whose species' religion holds that surgery allows the soul to escape. Dr. Franklin realizes that surgery is the only way to save the child, but his parents insist that it not be done, as they would rather their son die than lose his soul. His parents are entirely sincere in their beliefs, and when Franklin goes behind their back to perform the surgery, they kill their son, sincerely believing the surgery robbed him of his soul. This is likely a more extreme counterpart to the Real Life Jehovah's Witnesses' refusal of blood transfusions.
- In more lighthearted examples, Ivonova ends up having a discussion with her family rabbi about whether or not an alien dish called treel is kosher (eventual ruling: It's not mentioned by name in the Bible, so it's probably OK). Ivonova herself does not appear to keep kosher, seeing as her only objection to Marcus using his contacts in the Rangers to provide her with bacon and eggs (foods which are apparently hard to get on space stations) was that Sheridan and Garibaldi spent that breakfast staring at her plate and drooling.
- Rumpole of the Bailey: Rumpole claims to have a rather peculiar religion, which forbids, among other things, pleading guilty (unless he knows for a fact that the client actually committed the crime, and even then he'll only usually plead if the judge is sympathetic and he'll get a sentence with no jail time) and (more importantly) prosecuting. (The religion's a joke, of course, but the self-imposed prohibitions are real.)
- Toofer, Frank and Lutz from 30 Rock get out of Kenneth's confusing and boring Secret Santa project by pretending to be part of the religion of Verdukianism.
Jack: That's Republican! We count those!
- Kenneth himself is a parody of conservative Christians, so when asked what political party he supports he replies that choosing is a sin, so he just writes the Lord's name on the ballot.
- Barney on How I Met Your Mother made the claim that "Discouraging premarital sex is against [his] religion."
- On Battlestar Galactica (2003), many of the Saggitarons refuse to accept any medical treatment because it goes against their religion. For bonus Rule of Drama points, this is only ever brought up in the very episode where they all become infected with a deadly disease ("The Woman King"). It turns out they were deliberately injected with it by the doctor in charge of treating this group of refugees; he felt they didn't deserve medicine because of the rejection (supplies being low at the moment) and that he was freeing up room for others to live, causing their objections and suspicions that he meant them harm -in this case-to be Properly Paranoid.
- In The Nanny, Fran comes up with fake Jewish holidays to get out of work, and she says she did that in school as well.
- JAG: In the season nine episode Posse Comitatus, Bud investigates a Navy reservist physician who suddenly claims conscientious objector status when called on to serve in Iraq because he became a Quaker. When Bud informs him that after separation his medical practice would at the same time also lose the military health plan affiliation, he backs down.
- On Borgen, after successfully pulling off the peace treaty in Africa, Bent and Amir celebrate modestly with a bottle of fine brandy:
Bent: Does your god allow you to drink it?
- The Emergency! episode, "How Green Was My Thumb," Dr. Brackett is treating a young injured girl who was also bitten by a rabid dog. When her very religious parents object to having her vaccinated, Dr. Brackett is able to summon the hospital chaplain who manages to convince them to cooperate with some sage words and biblical passages.
- On Orange Is the New Black, one inmate claims to be a Jewish person that keeps kosher in order to get the kosher meals, which are much better than the standard food served. Pretty soon many other inmates join her, until the prison brings in a rabbi to verify that they're actually Jewish. Ironically the only person who "passes" as Jewish is the former nun (because of her expert knowledge of the Old Testament).
- The Stig from Top Gear (UK) was once introduced as being prohibited from eating mashed potatoes for religious reasons.
- One Calvin and Hobbes strip has Calvin jotting down in his quiz that he couldn't answer a question because it's against his religion (see the page pic).
- He's also a "math atheist" and refuses to do his homework because he cannot accept "on faith" that combining 2 and 2 makes 4 — and in the public schools, no less.
- In this comic, Dilbert is summoned to jury duty, and one of the potential jurors claims he cannot serve because it's against his religion, as "only God may judge". This is played for humor when another juror, realizing he can get out of jury duty, quickly claims to have just switched religions (and the first guy calls him a jerk).
- Another strip has Dilbert's co-worker refusing to go out with him over religious differences. When Dilbert offers to change his religion, he discovers that there is an entire religion based on 'not dating Dilbert'.
Dogbert: Where do you think I go every Sunday?
- Get Fuzzy has a recurring joke where Bucky Katt uses this excuse. His owner then asks what Bucky's religion is. No points for guessing why Bucky won't tell him...
- In one Knights of the Dinner Table story, Bob and Dave declare that their characters are disguising themselves as priests of a local temple so they can sneak in and rob it. In response to a suspicious guard's questions: "I tell him I've taken a vow of silence".
- One of the story arcs in Non Sequitur was about Danae creating her own religion to prevent anybody from making her do anything she didn't want to do.
- Near the end of A Tuna Christmas, Bertha attempts (unsuccessfully) to avoid drinking this way. Humorously, Arles then starts talking about how he used to lie about his religion so that he could drink.
Arles: One time we raised so much hell in Houston I claimed to be an Episcopalian!
Bertha: What was that like?
Arles: I don't remember. By the time I came to I was back in Tuna feeling like a Baptist again!
- In Nodwick, quick-thinking on Artax's part when he answers this while "disguised" as a mind flayer and asked by a true Illithid why he's isn't communicating telepathically.
Artax: Oh, that. I'm a member of a new religious order, and we took vows of synaptic silence.
- Girl Genius. Today is the feast of St. Bungi: my religion forbids vertical travel today!
- In Something*Positive, Mike cites this as his reason for him and Tamara having sex without birth control (resulting in her pregnancy). Given that he follows few if any other Catholic practices, PeeJee immediately calls him out on this:
PeeJee: Isn't premarital sex a sin too?
Mike: Yes, but that sin feels a lot better without the presence of the other sin.
- In El Goonish Shive Tedd was originally given the iconic Transformation Gun so he could work on it for a race of aliens whose religion bans object-oriented programming.
- In The Ongoing Adventures of Ulysses Perhero a man tries to avoid giving Ulysses information this way; it doesn't go well
- Mr. Welch has been told with absolute certainty that Druids are not against his religion.
- In the 2009 Christmas Special of Red vs. Blue, Grif claims to have joined every single religion in the world. That way, he can refuse to do anything, since, according to him, every day of the week is at least one religion's holy day of rest (except for Monday, curiously).
- In one Teen Girl Squad episode, Cheerleader claims that sweating is against several of her religions after weaseling her way out of gym class. Naturally, she gets covered in sweaty used towels after getting "Towel Boy'd" ("Hey!" "Oh, excuse me, 'Team Manager'd'!")
- In the Beavis And Butthead episode "Dumb Design", the boys use this excuse first to get out of learning evolution, and later to get out of math and P.E. class.
- In Futurama, Bender tries to get out of doing work by pretending robot holidays such as "Robonukkah" prevent him from working.
- Hermes mentions that the Planet Express corporation respects Bender's religious freedom to the extent the law requires, but he'd already spent all his allotted days off for Robamadan and Robanzaa.
- Hadji spouts this excuse to the alligators that are attacking him in the Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures episode "Alligators and Okeechobee Vikings":
Hadji: Get back! It's against my religion to be eaten by reptiles!
- In Undergrads, Cody, a slacker, is unhappy that he has an exam on a Saturday.
Cody: Oh man, I can't believe I have to take an exam on... Shhh...abbat.
Jessie: Cody... you're not Jewish.
Cody: That's not the point!
- An episode of Roger Ramjet has Roger coming to the aid of stand-up comic Pinky Finger. Roger is about to deliver a smackdown to Noodles Romanoff and his gang, and Pinky says he'd like to join Roger but it's against his religion: he's a devout coward.
- On The Cleveland Show Roberta temporarily breaks up with her boyfriend Federline because he won't get a tattoo for her. Apparently he's already bought his plot in a Jewish cemetery.note
- In an episode of The Simpsons—ironically, the episode where Homer decides to quit going to church—he calls in to work in one scene to get the day off by claiming it's a religious holiday: "the Feast of Maximum Occupancy."
- For many, this excuse is abused where something technically is against their religion, but they wouldn't be following that stricture (every religion has a few rules that only the real diehards pay attention to) if they didn't dislike the thing anyway.
- Example: A Muslim, Buddhist, Baptist, or what-have-you who has in fact had a drink before and didn't like it might use "it's against my religion to drink" to avoid drinking in social settings, although they hadn't had any compunctions about it before. Granted, someone pushing drinks on everyone else at the party is more likely to leave you alone if you're refraining for religious reasons.
- Conscientious Objectors will do this in Real Life as their reasons not to fight in wars.
- Not ALL of them (there are non-religious pacifists) but the ones claiming religious reasons get their status accepted more easily.
- It doesn't necessarily stop them from going to war either. Some of the most heroic medics in history have been conscientious objectors.
- Alvin York, probably the most famous American World War I war hero, was himself a conscientous objector.
- In Australia, Nat Young tried to register surfing as a religion, in part so that he and other surfers could cite religious objections to avoid serving in The Vietnam War.
- Religiously motivated pacifism in general: Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi both saw violence against their oppressors as immoral for religious reasons, even in retaliation.
- Jack Thompson used this excuse during his disbarment proceedings. The judges didn't fall for it.
- There's a story in which a couple of Muslim diplomats met with Vlad Tepes (Yes, that one), refusing to remove their turbans as they were only required to for the Sultan. Vlad was a vassal of the Sultan by force, so this was basically a metaphorical middle finger, like stating "Even though you are the most powerful man in the land we are currently in, you are lowly and deserve none of our respect." Unfortunately for the two of them, due to trying to pull a country with a nonexistent economy to a standing position, the constant threat of war from the Ottoman Empire, the raiding of border towns by Hungary, a staggeringly high crime rate, and the intrigues and plots from unwilling boyars and their crazy family clans, Vlad understandably had a bit of an issue when it came to respect.
- So naturally he had their turbans nailed to their heads.
- Any Discordian can claim ANYTHING is against their religion, by virtue of being a Pope. Unfortunately, since everyone is also a Pope, you'll be promptly excommunicated.
- The entire church (a.k.a. human race) was excommunicated within the first few days of the religion.
- Fortunately, they can all de-excommunicate themselves. Unless that would be against their religion.
- It is generally known that observant Jews may not eat pork, rabbit, shellfish, etc. What is less well known is that very observant Jews may not wear garments made from wool and linen because of a Biblical prohibition against it. And those who adhere very strictly to the dietary laws cannot eat anything made in a non-kosher kitchen (which means, among other things, entirely separate sets of cookware, dinnerware, and sinks for meat and for dairy).
- Members of the LDS Church (Mormons) are famous for refraining from smoking and drinking alcohol, coffee, tea, and sometimes even caffeine of any kind. This is often used in media to mark a character as a Mormon. This comes from a piece of Mormon scripture popularly called the "Word of Wisdom", which also advises to use meat sparingly and the consumption of fruits, herbs, and grains. It is considered important enough that following it is a prerequisite for membership and for participation in several programs.
- Jehovah's Witnesses refusal to accept blood transfusions gains occasional notoriety and provides fuel for Medical Dramas. They also do not celebrate birthdays—or any other holiday—nor do they pledge allegiance.
- After becoming a born-again Christian, Shawn Michaels would tread carefully when he was part of the WWE's more risque skits. Sometimes they would have fun with this... Triple H blindfolding him before bringing out cheerleaders, being distracted away from girls, reluctantly going through the women's locker room and Eric Bischoff mocking his refusal to do stuff like Katie Vick as against his religion.
- Most Muslims are excused from social dance lessons in schools on the grounds that one should not get that close to a member of the opposite sex with whom you are not betrothed.
- Hindus famously do not eat beef. Some of them are total vegetarians.
- There are also some extremely devout Hindu who don't do cow's milk or dairy for the same reason. This isn't quite as common as refusing beef, though, as milk, yogurt, and butter—particularly the clarified butter known as ghee—are pillars of Indian cuisine and (more to the point) are actually used in Hindu festivals (for instance, the oil in the lamps of Diwali is traditionally ghee).
- U.S. employment discrimination law more or less requires employers to believe (or at least act like they believe) employee claims about religious doctrines and practices. Employers should accept all claims as valid regardless of whether the practice or the religion itself is new, or uncommon, or seemingly nonsensical; including practices shared by few or no other members of the same religion. However, employers are only required make accommodations that are compatible with the basic duties of the job and can be provided with minimal (more than just trivial) cost. For example, a toll booth operator whose religious beliefs prohibit handling money on Wednesdays should be able to request Wednesdays off; but an operator who believes it is sinful to exchange money with mixed gender groups can be denied a request for a dedicated lane and signage directing such groups away.
- In United States v. Seeger, 380 U.S. 163 (1965) athiests, who are unconscious objectors who refuse to serve in a war when drafted, are considered to have a religious objection based on a belief in a supreme being according to the US Supreme Court. Even if the Supreme Being is merely the intellectual construct of the individual conceived of to the individual as nothing more than a conceptional belief that God does not exist, it still constitutes religious beliefs and religious dogma. Various atheist schools of thought/organizations/denominations exist from Confusionism to Stoicism and there are many contractual atheists, as well as religious/belief systems that worship humans as a God such as Shinto that believes the Japanese Emperor is divine or humanism that considers humanity as a god in many ways. Some atheists say things are against their religion and have religious exemptions granted for school, work, and in other situations such as the use of tax deductions, exceptions to certain laws, and avoidance of military service.
- In most schools in the United States, there are mandatory sex education classes. All are required to allow a student to decline them on religious grounds and spend the time in an alternative activity.
- A man in Austria won the right to wear a spaghetti strainer on his head in his drivers licence photo because of his religious beliefs.
- The person is known as Niko Alm and this was more of a publicity stunt. He protested against the "privilege" of Religious people to get their photos taken with various forms of headgear. He got this allowed in the end, because the spaghetti strainer didn't obstruct his face and not based on his belief.
- Commonly attempted by younger kids during Lent, the Christian preparation for Easter, as the tradition is to give something up so you suffer some. Some try to give up vegetables, homework, or school.
- Seventh-day Adventists are known for abstaining from secular activities on the Sabbath (i.e. from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday) according to the instruction given in the fourth of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 (specifically, verses 8-11) and the description of the transition of days from sunset to sunset in Genesis 1. Many also abstain from meat and alcoholic drinks due to this trope; SDA members who do eat meat refrain from eating meats listed as forbidden in Leviticus 11 (particularly pork or pork-made products).
- Scambaiters, people who try to get 419 Scam emails and fool the scammer into thinking he's got a victim, like to use this trope to get the scammer to embarrass himself. Generally, the baiter will claim that sending the requested money to someone outside their religion is forbidden and that the scammer will have to join to get the money. Cue the scammer doing all sorts of embarrassing stuff to join the church, ranging from getting photographed with bread on their head and a bottle of wine in their ear to getting a clown tattoo from Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
- In the US, some pharmacists will give this as a reason for refusing to fill out women's birth control prescriptions. However, most will direct them to one without such beliefs.
- As well, pretty much every contemporary major religion has prohibitions against pre-marital sex. Many virgins (or not so much) use this as a reason for waiting until marriage.
- Some religions prohibit its members from drinking alcohol. Someone who does not belong to this religion, but feels like their peers will not take just a no for an answer may use this as an excuse. People who have other excuses, such as former alcoholism or alcoholism running in their family may use this excuse, as they feel the truth would reflect badly upon themselves
- There are several faiths that oppose vaccination (Christian Science probably being the most famous); in nearly all US states, one can get a religious exemption from mandatory vaccination laws (the standards of proof vary). Another 17 states allow philosophical exemptions, which is the same thing but expanded beyond religion.
- Olympic Athlete Eric Liddell refused to run races on a Sunday because of his Christian religion. In the 1924 Olympics, this meant that he ran in the 400 metres, instead of his usual event - the 100 metres. In the 400 metres final he broke the world record.
- Major League baseball player Sandy Koufax skipped a World Series game in 1965 because it coincided with Yom Kippur.
- Subverted by the US government - county clerks who are elected to their position swear under oath to follow the statutes of the office and are forbidden by law to use this as an excuse. This caused significant controversy in 2015 when a county clerk refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after citing religious beliefs as her reason only to be taken to court and losing her case as well as all appeals. That being said, she (and, by precedent, anyone else in her position) was eventually allowed to Take a Third Option: She herself is no longer required to issue said licenses, but she can't prevent her subordinates from doing the same; and said licenses are no longer required to have her name on them.
- The Satanic Temple has used this a few times to protest laws that they believe unethical or in violation of the separation of church and state.