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Ambiguously Christian

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Ambiguously Christian characters may mention celebrating Christian holidays such as Christmas or Easter (especially if they happen to be Santa Clausmas or Easter Bunny Easter) reference to a Fluffy Cloud Heaven or Fire and Brimstone Hell, make some non-specific prayers to a 'higher power' or give some indication of believing or even mentioning a monotheistic (nearly always male) God, especially if he is of the Grandpa God interpretation. Variations on phrases such as "The Big Guy" or "The Man Upstairs" are sometimes used, but explicit mentions of Jesus Christ (or other religious figures such as the Virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit, saints, etc.) are not used - unless a character is swearing.

This is often used in works where the religious practices of characters is not a major focus (and could distract from the plot) Many of the more exaggerated examples are found in media intended for children, as the closest thing most get to mentioning religious holidays is a Christmas Episode, religion could be a bit too complicated for younger kids to understand and addressing these things could even be considered controversial.

On the other hand, this can be played quite realistically if the character was, say, Raised Catholic but isn't especially religious now. They may maintain a respect for their faith but simply not have many occasions to bring it up.

It may also get a bit more complicated if we consider character types like the Churchgoing Villain or Religious Bruiser, who may adhere just as much to the outward trappings of Christianity, but whose behavior isn't exactly on board with its ethical or nonviolent teachings.

Compare/Contrast Crystal Dragon Jesus, where the religion is explicitly not Christianity, yet still holds elements commonly associated with it. Compare Jesus Taboo. Also related to Church of Saint Genericus, where it's a church/religion that's left ambiguous. Ambiguously Jewish is the Jewish version of this. Such a character may or may not be the Token Religious Teammate. Not Christian Rock is this trope applied to music. Compare and contrast Creepy Cool Crosses.


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     Anime and Manga 
  • Cross Marian of D.Gray-Man seems to fit this trope. His name is a reference to The Marian Cross. He is also the most affiliated with Crucifixes. He wears a rosary necklace, his mask has a cross on it, and he's the creator of Timcampy, who also has a cross design on his front. Not only these things, but he also appears to be an actual priest. He has been referred to as a priest on a few separate occasions. When Allen first meets him in D.Gray-Man Reverse, he refers to him as a priest -given his wardrobe. A villager in Krory's village mentions him as a priest. Barba always refers to him as "Father." Finally, Mother is a patron of his, and she mentions in Reverse, that she's in charge of watching over the church while Cross is away. Finally, Hoshino Katsura, the mangaka drew official art of him wearing high priest robes on the cover of the Reverse novel. But all of these things are just shown in-passing. Over the course of the 224 manga chapters + Reverse novels, Cross' Christianity or Priesthood hasn't been a focal point and is easily missed among many fans given some of Cross' less than Christianly behavior.
  • Possibly Mello from Death Note. He wears a rosary necklace note , as well as a matching bracelet, and crosses and even a Virgin Mary graphic appear on his clothes occasionally. He also has a crucifix on the wall, a little cross charm on his gun, and a small Marian shrine on the mantle in his personal living space. He also refers in Another Note to The Almighty. This, and a real name Mihael Keehl that marks Mello as being possibly from a predominantly Catholic country or ethnic background, leads many fans to believe that he is a practicing Catholic. It would also be a plausible reason to fight against Kira besides besting Near, whom he technically gave the role of L's successor to in a fit of sour grapes. However, it is never actually confirmed In-Universe if Mello actually is a Catholic, or if he was one but is not anymore, or is one In-Name-Only, or if he's some other type of Christian (real or made-up) that's similar to Catholicism but isn't, or if he just thinks the crosses, and such look cool.
  • There are signs that Megu-nee from School-Live! is Christian however it is never properly addressed. Megu-nee wears a rosary, her grave is marked with a cross, and she seems religious. It's vague how much is symbolism and how much is her being a Japanese Christian.
  • It's stated in Maria-sama ga Miteru that you aren't required to be Christian to go to the school. There's an air of ambiguity about who is actually Christian and who is not, but in general the main cast seems entirely Christian, with a possible exception of Shimako and Yumi in the novels.
  • The setting of Trigun has a lot of Christian motifs, but no particular religion is ever explicitly mentioned. There are what appear to be Christian churches, but the only clergy we ever see are Wolfwood, his teacher Chapel, and the Eye of Michael in the manga, all of whom are actually assassins. Part of the ambiguity comes from the fact that the creator Yasuhiro Nightow, a Catholic convert, wanted to incorporate Christian themes but didn't want to alienate Japanese audiences by being too explicit about it.
  • In the Kanto episode of Pokémon that goes into James' backstory, he had an Imagine Spot where he dies and goes to heaven, complete with cherub-esque angels. His parents fake coffins also have crosses on them.
  • Rin and Yukio from Blue Exorcist were raised by a priest in a monastery.
  • Choutarou Ohtori from The Prince of Tennis has cross pendant. He mentions that he sometimes sneaks into a local chapel since he feels at peace there, however he doesn't seem to a believer.
  • Inori "Buki" Yamabuki from Fresh Pretty Cure! goes to a Christian private middle school which apparently has its own chapel.
  • In Love Live! Sunshine!! the protagonists attend to a Catholic high school, so it's possible that they're Christian. Ruby herself wore a crucifix necklace in episode 7, and Riko mentioned her believing Aqours coming together as an act of God in Love Live! School Idol Festival.
  • That cross pendant she wears is at least a strong hint that Misato from Neon Genesis Evangelion was a Christian. This, however, may not actually be the case considering: 1) the cross is a keepsake from her father who died saving her life, and thus she wears it in his memory rather than for any specific religious reasons and 2) this is a series that is infamously heavy on Christian Faux Symbolism, especially Creepy Cool Crosses.
  • Homura from Puella Magi Madoka Magica mentions having gone to a Catholic school prior to transferring.
  • Ranma ˝: A fairly surprising amount of fanon in the fanfic community grew from one single (non-story) image of Kasumi Tendo wearing a cross on a chain. However this probably reflects nothing more than Takahashi's habit of creating promotional images depicting her characters wearing whatever happened to be fashionable at the time.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune might be examples. They're searching for the Messiah, and Uranus even sports a cross at times. There is certainly a lot of Catholic imagery in the S season. Michiru telling the story of Adam and Eve and referring to them as the first man and woman drives the point home.
    • Rei (Sailor Mars) is another candidate. She can be seen wearing a cross, she attends a Catholic school (modeled after a very high-class Real Life Catholic school), and in the live-action adaptation her mother Risa is buried in a Catholic cemetery. She's also a Miko at a Shinto shrine, which could just be an example of how the Japanese don't mind mixing religions, or might be more likely to confuse the roles of nuns and miko.

     Comic Books 
  • Superman is often portrayed as being a Christian—which would make sense, considering that he was raised in a traditional American home in rural Kansas. However, most writers tend to only imply this and leave it as ambiguous as possible.
    • According to Elliot S! Maggin, Superman and his parents were Methodists in pre-Crisis stories (at least the ones written by Maggin). However, editorial did not allow him to make this explicit. Geoff Johns, Fabian Nicieza, and Kurt Busiek later co-wrote a post-Crisis story in which the Kents were explicitly members of a Methodist church. In the New 52, Grant Morrison made Ma and Pa Baptists (with no mention of what Clark himself believed).
    • In Superman For All Seasons by Jeph Loeb, Superman is a friend of the local, Protestant pastor in Smallville. In Superman: For Tomorrow by Brian Azzarello, Superman befriends a Catholic priest and takes confession with him.
    • In Superman: Redemption by Kurt Busiek, Superman is basically agnostic, partly because he lives in a Fantasy Kitchen Sink and partly because when he was a boy he stopped going to church because his super-hearing enabled him to hear other members of the congregation whispering nasty things to each other.
  • Captain America. The Steve Rogers of the regular Marvel Universe is this trope. In Avengers Standoff Maria Hill identifies Steve as a churchgoer, and he ambiguously invokes the will of God toward the end of Roger Stern's Captain America run.
    • His explicitly Christian Ultimate Marvel counterpart is an aversion: we see him attending church, reading the Bible, and praying.
  • Spider-Man can be this trope, Depending on the Writer. He was either this or Ambiguously Jewish during JMS' Spider-Man, where he would occasionally pray to the Abrahamic God. This characteristic disappeared when J. Michael Straczynski left Amazing Spider-Man.note  Jose Molina later wrote a story called Amazing Grace where Peter was clarified to be a lapsed Catholic (which has yet to be referenced by other writers).
  • The Punisher (in his earliest origin story anyway) was actually in training to become a Catholic priest, but left the seminary because he couldn't bring himself to forgive people's sins. Religion doesn't seem to matter to him at all now, but he does occasionally use language that suggests he is still a believer on some level, most likely of the Rage Against the Heavens or Nay-Theist variety.
    "There are times I'd like to get my hands on God."
  • In Runaways, Klara starts off as a devout God-fearing Christian. Precisely which brand of Christianity she belongs to is never specified, but her strongly-expressed belief in her own damnation suggests that she might be Calvinist.

    Films — Animation 
  • Frozen:
    • Elsa's coronation was performed by a man who is dressed like a Christian bishop. Another scene features a portrait of the saint Joan of Arc and is outright described as such, but any details about her are not elaborated upon. Despite this, the closest the movie gets to mentioning religion is Elsa exclaiming "Heaven knows I've tried..." during the song "Let it Go."
    • The opening song "Vuelie" is a cross between Saami chanting and a Christian hymn.
    • The Christmas Special short Olaf's Frozen Adventure shows that the sisters celebrate Christmas, implying they're Christian.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas: Holidays such as Christmas and Easter are mentioned, but they are portrayed in a Santa Clausmas fashion. Particularly notable considering a overwhelming majority of the 'holiday trees' Jack finds in the woods are Christian holidays, the two exceptions being Thanksgiving and Independence day. Jack mentions God once or twice during the song 'Poor Jack' but it's done in a way that is exclamatory rather than overtly religious. It would make the most sense to suggest that Jack and the other residents of Halloweentown are Druid (as the Halloween holiday originally was) or maybe practitioners of Voodoo (since they are all undead beings). The spoof The Nightmare Before Chanukah on an episode of The Critic implies that Jack is neither Christian nor Jewish: when he comes upon a rabbi in Chanukahtown and asks if he's in Christmastown, the rabbi sarcastically tells him no, he's at the Vatican.
  • Robin Hood: The Church exists (though it's never called the Catholic Church) and the Crusades form part of the backstory, but the characters are all animals. Perhaps we're witnessing a reenactment of history by "nonhuman" Animated Actors.
  • Tangled: In Tangled Ever After, Rapunzel and Flynn are married in a church by a bishop-like figure. So like the royalty of Arendelle, the royal house of Corona also seems to adhere to a Christian religion - at least depending on clergy for formalities such as weddings and coronations - but any beliefs they have, if any, aren't hinted to otherwise. A lot of iconography in both the first movie and the series implies they might worship the sun, or else subscribe to a bizarre form of Christianity that absorbed a lot of solar symbolism.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Man of Steel, Clark explicitly asks his father at one point "Did God do this to me?", referring to his unique powers and abilities. Later on, he chooses to visit a priest for advice on how to handle General Zod. According to Word of God, it's heavily implied that Clark was raised Lutheran.
  • The Batman films from 1989-1997 take place in a Christian world, with a Jewish presence here and there (a kosher butcher shop appears in the 1989 film), but outright references to religion are few and far between. Batman Forever does have Bruce Wayne saying, in reference to his parents' deaths, "On the night of the wake, the priest's words brought no comfort" (which could simply be another example of Christianity Is Catholic), and both of the Schumacher films deal heavily in such Christian themes as guilt, forgiveness and salvation without mentioning Christianity itself. The 1989 film shows a medieval Gothic cathedral towering over Gotham City, but the inside suggests that no one has set foot inside it in years, if not decades. Batman Returns takes place entirely during the Christmas season, but the citizens celebrate Santa Clausmas - and, interestingly enough, a line from the speech at the tree-lighting ceremony, "In this season of the Savior's birth...", was ultimately cut from the film, as a somewhat clumsy edit makes clear. There is never explicit mention of Bruce Wayne's Christianity.
  • In The Avengers, when Black Widow refers to Thor as a god, Captain America, tells her, "There's only one god ma'am, and I'm pretty sure he doesn't dress like that." Given the time period he was reared, it's heavily implied he's referring to the Christian God.
  • Bruce Almighty. Grace is a variation of this. She clearly believes in God, and the power of prayer, as she carries around a strand of prayer beads note , and prays to God every night (mostly for Bruce), which Bruce ends up listening to while he still has God's powers; however, any indication of her actually being a Christian are never really brought to light.
  • In This Is the End, Jay is non-ambiguously Christian, but when supernatural things are confirmed to exist, they are ones that are very Christianity influenced. The movie includes Horny Devils, an The Exorcist style exorcism and a Fluffy Cloud Heaven.
  • The religion of the Kadam family in The Hundred Foot Journey, who are Indians in a Fish out of Water cultural situation, is never specified, but they are shown cooking/eating beef and drinking alcohol, which makes the prospect of them being Hindu or Muslim very unlikely. In one scene the father (who is intended to be the traditionalist in the family) says he feels as if he's "died and gone to heaven"; he also repeatedly mentions getting messages from his dead wife, which would make little sense in Hinduism's belief in reincarnation.
  • El Diablo in Suicide Squad (2016). The way he talks about God and the Devil in his dialogue makes it clear he believes in, and respects the idea of them both; and he has a tattoo of a Christian cross-on-a-chain on his right hand, and sometimes wears a Christian cross around his neck. He also mentions his wife prayed for him. However, he seems to, at least partially, have given up his faith - he thinks his wife's praying wouldn't make any difference, and that "even God can't save him".

  • Harry Potter.
    • The wizarding world celebrates Christianity-influenced holidays such as Halloween, Christmas and Valentine's (but in a secular way) and their big hospital (St. Mungo's) is named after a saint, but no one ever mentions/goes to church or mentions what religion they are.
    • However, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry carves a cross into a tree in memorial of Mad-Eye Moody.
    • James and Lily's grave has a Bible quotation on it ("The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" from 1 Corinthians 15:26), as does Dumbledore's sister's ("Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" from Matthew 6:21), but they are never identified as such in-universe.
    • The Hufflepuff House ghost, the Fat Friar, was indeed a friar when he was alive. Make of that what you will.
    • Professor McGonagall's father was a muggle Presbyterian minister. It's not made clear whether she shares his religion.
  • The woodland creatures from Redwall live as a religious-type order (an abbey with an abbot/abbess, various characters referred to as brother/sister, a church named after a saint, etc). However, a supreme being is never even mentioned, let alone any sort of denomination.

     Live Action TV 
  • Star Trek: The Original Series. Captain Kirk's famous line to the alien impersonating the Greek god Apollo in "Who Mourns for Adonais?":
    "Mankind has no need for gods. We find the one quite adequate."
    • In another episode, Kirk and Crew come upon a planet dominated by a Roman Empire but with 20th century technology (Fridge Logic: another planet that had been visited by the alien impersonating the Greek god Apollo and his pantheon?), where a persecuted, pacifist new religion worships a sun god. At the end of the episode, Lieutenant Uhura discovers that this new religion does not worship the Sun but the Son, clearly referencing Jesus. Kirk even considers remaining at the planet for a number of years just so they can "watch it happen all over again."
  • Marshall from How I Met Your Mother seems to be Christian. He celebrates Christmas, says Grace at family dinners, and an argument with his wife about whether they should teach their children about Santa was used as a stand-in for whether they should teach religion. However, he's never shown attending church and when he's referring to a higher power it's always "The Universe" not God.
  • Drop Dead Diva features the protagonist going to Fluffy Cloud Heaven and meeting angels (a concept not exclusive to Christianity) However, any concept of God other than a 'higher power' kind of thing is never mentioned.
    • In and episode of the Vlog series Letters to Fred, however, Luke does off-handily question "Who taught God how to Insta-Gram?!?"
  • Joan of Arcadia features the main character repeatedly communicating with a monotheistic God (that takes many forms) There isn't much description of Joan's faith or the details of God beyond that. One recurring character has Informed Judaism however.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place features mythical creatures such as 'angels' (which aren't exclusive to Christianity) but they are portrayed as secular. There is a bit of a subversion, however, as a viewer may see the St. Gabriel candles in the lair, and Max mentions that they go to church in one episode. Considering that they are explicitly an Italian-Hispanic family, they are almost certainly Catholic.
  • The Last Man on Earth: Phil Miller is often seen talking to God (talking, not praying). It could be more not having anyone else to talk to than actual religious beliefs.
  • Clarissa Explains It All is one of the few Nickelodeon shows to have any mentions of religion at all, and even then quite subtlety, there were a few one off lines mentioning sin and God and the religious aspects of secularized holidays like Christmas were occasionally quietly acknowledged even if never in the forefront. It was thus heavily implied that the Darling family were Christians (which would be the default assumption of a middle class white family in the American Midwest in the early 90s), even though they were never shown going to church or engaging in any explicitly religious behavior.

    Video Games 
  • The first two The Legend of Zelda games come off this way, with Link's shield bearing a cross emblem, gravestones adorned with crosses, and a cross being a Plot Coupon in the second game. This is due to the original plan being for Hyrule's religion to be Christianity; starting with the third game they dropped that and switched to a Fantasy Pantheon.
  • The Last of Us has David, an Ax-Crazy cannibal. While he and Ellie are fleeing from infected, he can be heard telling her to watch her language, and after shooting infected he'll sometimes say "Lord, forgive them." He also states to be under the belief that "everything happens for a reason". He admits during his fight with Ellie that she momentarily "shook his faith", and the developer's commentary describes him as someone who believes he's been chosen by a higher power. A banner hung in the steakhouse, possibly written by him, reads "When we are in need, he shall provide!".
  • The religion of the cast of Night in the Woods features churches, Easter, popes, Sunday school, and a video cover associates crosses with priests, but the local church's main symbol is an eight-pointed star and the female pastor refers to God with "they" pronouns. Religion is often discussed by the characters, especially with the atheist Angus and the observant Bea, but denominations are never stated.
  • Guilty Gear: Ky Kiske is very religious and his faith in "God" is a key part of his character. He is also a commander of the superficially Church Militant (but still very secular) Sacred Order of Holy Knights. However, his specific religion is neither stated nor alluded to, other than the fact that he occasionally makes the sign of the cross, holds to a code similar to knightly chivalry, and speaks of God in vaguely Abrahamic terms.
  • Pac-Man: In the side-scrolling arcade game, Pac-Land, Pac-Man passes by two churches with Christian crosses on the roofs. These are present in all versions (except the stage based on it in Super Smash Bros., where the cross is taken off).
  • Grand Theft Auto V: Mr. K wears a crucifix while he is being tortured due to being accused of working with terrorists and him coming from Azerbaijan (a predominantly Muslim country). While his faith goes unmentioned, it's heavily implied that he is Eastern Christiannote .
  • Half-Life 2 has an aversion of this trope with Father Grigori and his Orthodox-like church, but not so much that it tells us what type of Eastern Orthodox he and his church are. The beta version of him has this averted even more with the attire shown to be black with an Eastern European crucifix.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Persona:
    • The main cast of Persona attends St. Hermelin High School, whose logo features both a Chi-Rho and a Star of David, but it's not mentioned whether any of them are Christian.
    • In Persona 5, Yusuke Kitagawa and Hifumi Togo attend Kosei High School. Yusuke's uniform features a fleur-de-lis and he expresses familiarity for Jesus' suffering on the cross, while Hifumi can usually be found in a church and is named after a Catholic Shōgi player.
  • The characters in the Mysterious trilogy of the Atelier series (Atelier Sophie, Atelier Firis, and Atelier Lydie And Suelle) follow a monotheistic religion whose deity is called God, go to church to pray, and some NPCs are nuns. Whether the religion of the setting is Anime Catholicism or a Fantasy Counterpart Culture that happens to resemble it is unclear.

     Visual Novels 
  • It's implied that the half-Scottish Lily from Katawa Shoujo is Christian. She wears a cross on her neck and her parents sent her to a Catholic high school (which, unlike her sister, she didn't mind).

     Western Animation 
  • As with a majority of other animated shows for children, Fairly OddParents plays this straight. Santa Clausmas is celebrated along with Easter Bunny Easter. Cosmo and Wanda are explicitly referred to his 'Fairy Godparents', albeit without any religious connotation.
  • Arthur: Arthur Read and his family are shown attending a Christian family wedding in one episode and leaving a church in a Christmas special. Which denomination the family adheres to is not made clear, however.
  • It's left vague what religion Ginger's family follows in As Told by Ginger, if any. Ginger didn't know she had Jewish heritage until partway through the series, meaning their mother either raised them secular or another religion. Carl is seen visiting a prayer room in a hospital after his sister falls ill with appendicitis and his mother references that she thought he was an atheist.
  • Soos from Gravity Falls is named "Jesus" (the Spanish pronounciation, thus his nickname). This implies that at least his family is Christian, likely Catholic as he's latino.
  • Dade from Harvey Beaks acts a lot like a stereotypical fundamentalist Christian. He's spoken out against magic and rock n'roll, frequently protests against various forms of supposed indecency, and makes sly references to Christian phrases, beliefs, and practices ("sinning" is called as "corrupting", for example). However, he and his family have never been confirmed to be religious at all.