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Artistic License – Religion

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Pope: A last supper I commissioned from you and a last supper I want. With twelve disciples and one Christ.
Michelangelo: ...One?!
Pope: Yes, one! Now, will you please tell me what in God's name possessed you to paint this with three Christs in it?!
Michelangelo: It works, mate.
Pope: Works?!
Michelangelo: Yeah! It looks great! The fat one balances the two skinny ones.
Pope: There was only one Redeemer!
Michelangelo: I know that, we all know that. What about a bit of artistic license?
Monty Python: Live from the Hollywood Bowl

Religion makes for great motifs and imagery in fiction and art, but it's also a varied and complex topic. This means that creators often take liberties, either to serve the story or due to lack of research. This may range from ignoring minor details of doctrine to broadly ignoring basic beliefs. The degree of variation often relates to how closely related a creator's culture is to the specific religion; the lesser the relation, the greater the liberties were taken.

See also Hijacked by Jesus, Sadly Mythtaken, Anime Catholicism, Symbology Research Failure, Hollywood Voodoo, Hollywood Satanism, Christianity is Catholic, and Nuns Are Mikos.

It's worth noting that one person's artistic license is another person's dogma. Even people within the same faith tradition may interpret it differently; for example, pacifist Christians may feel that the original Crusaders were in opposition to what they consider the true Christian gospel of peace, or pacifist Muslims would believe that ISIS violates various provisions of Islam through its activities. A group or individual's take on an established faith can be smothered as heresy... or it can found its own religion. As insane as some fictional interpretations of religion are, there has probably been an even more insane version which actually happened.

If you really want to know about the religions, why, look no further than our Useful Notes pages.

While we can understand your love for a show, please refrain from making justifying edits based on your personal theories or explanations. That's what the discussion pages are for. Also, be aware of the No True Scotsman Fallacy; a lot of things in religion are open to (mis)interpretation, and for every alternate theory, there's bound to be some group that takes it deadly seriously. This is more about claiming such-and-such a belief is mainstream, or explicitly stated in a certain religion's scriptures or an equivalent thereof, when it's not.


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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." 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, but this is a serious misunderstanding of Catholic and Christian dogma. 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. And if they have actually read the source material, they'd probably think twice before saying they need them down here, since angels are weird in a sense. In fairness, however, some Biblical Apocrypha suggests that there are some humans who have become angelsnote , and in any case, belief that equates dead children with angels is actually quite widespread folk theology in Catholic countries like Mexico.

    Anime and Manga 
  • While Cool-Kyou Shinsha did their research, several of the dragons in Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid had noticeable changes in comparison to their source mythologies. Quetzalcoatl is female and Fafnir is a tall handsome man instead of a dwarf (though Fafnir is justified due to him basing his human form off of a picture of Sebastian that Tohru sent him). Averted with Kanna, who appears to be a Gender Flip but is stated later on to merely be named after the Ainu deity in question.
  • Hellsing and Hellsing Ultimate did a better job of depicting the different schisms within Christianity, with the different secret monster-hunting organizations of Hellsing and Iscariot being a Protestant and Catholic organization, respectively. Unfortunately, it also took the original schism between the Protestant and Catholic Churches (which did cause one of the most devastating periods in European history) and kept that same conflict going for centuries after the two sides had reconciled, with Hellsing and Iscariot quietly at war with each other and the Catholic Church commissioning a new crusade into England.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Steel Ball Run has its whole plot revolve around the collection of a miraculously un-spoiled corpse that has been split into 9 pieces. Naturally, the pieces can merge with people's bodies and give them superpowers. It is heavily hinted by the narrator, and explicitly stated by several characters, but never technically confirmed by anyone with reliable authority, that the corpse belongs to Jesus. If true, then Jesus—who is perhaps most famous for coming back from the dead—was evidently only able to pull it off exactly once, in JJBA continuity. Then, instead of ascending to become one-third of a Trinity, he traveled to America and died forever. JJBA lore tends to slip into Christianity is Catholic because of how frequently saints are mentioned (that's the backup explanation for who the corpse is), but, as was just mentioned, Catholicism kind of has Jesus not be a corpse.

  • Rowan Atkinson has a comedy routine that portrays the Devil, welcoming people to Hell and sorting them according to the attribute that damned them. After welcoming a group of atheists ("I bet you feel like right nitwits"), he welcomes a group of Christians, explaining that "the Jews were right all along". However, neither Hell nor the Devil exists in Judaism's account of what happens after death.

    Comic Books 
  • Roman Catholicism in the Uncanny X-Men (Chuck Austen) 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 fail 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 note  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 hosts note  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 Protestantismnote ), 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 Universe 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..
    • Exploding Communion hosts. If they weren't shy about committing grave sacrilege on a mass scale (those nano-whoosie-whatsits they were going to seed the hosts with would have made them invalid matter and therefore very sacrilegious to use as Eucharist), somehow, it seems they'd have been sanguine about blasphemy as well.
    • 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.
    • The whole plan relies on the false assumption that Christianity is Catholic.
    • Some of the Bible quotes are wrong, and the word Revelation is even misspelled at one point.
    • The Sacrament of Holy Orders (otherwise known as ordination) are wrong. It's actually a laborious four-to-eight-year process that involves going to seminary, leaving no time for any super-hero derring-do. And, no, the excuse that the Church of Humanity was shining Nightcrawler on or fooling him holds no water — he knew enough real priests to know how it works, and the info on the ordination process is public knowledge.
    • Then there's all the stuff about making Nightcrawler Pope that Austen implicitly gets wrong. He seems to think it's as easy as trundling Nightcrawler to The Vatican and saying "here's the new Pope, guys! When's the coronation?" note  In reality, the College of Cardinals wouldn't have even taken one look at him, preferring to choose from the (relatively) known quantities among their own number. In theory, any baptized Catholic male with no impediments to ordination can be elected Pope. In practice, there is almost no chance without something having gone seriously wrong in the world.
  • 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 suggests 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. Putting aside that nobody has ever worshiped Baphomet note , 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. The whole plot is a lazy imitation of the infamous Taxil Hoax, where anti-Catholic French journalist Leo Taxil published a series of books with completely fraudulent and outrageous "exposés" about Freemasons to mock the Catholic Church's opposition to the group, including the claim that they worship Baphomet. Chick seems to have taken Taxil at face value, despite the fact that he confessed to making the whole thing up.
    • 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:
    • All Protestants take the Lord's supper symbolically. (Martin Luther would beg to disagree, and other denominations teach that there is a spiritual "real presence" of Christ in the sacrament, just not a physical or substantial one.)
    • 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. The reason it sounds convincing is that it's a half-truth: the pre-Islamic Arabs did house the idols of their gods at the Kaaba in Mecca, and Muhammad did throw them out when he took over. They also did worship "Allah" alongside their other gods before Muhammad threw out the idols, but that was because their religion was a syncretic mix of traditional polytheism, Judaism, and Christianity. They still worshiped the Abrahamic God, or at least a vague creator god similar to him, they just tacked on their own gods alongside him and created a new pantheon and mythology. Also, the lunar symbol Chick gets crazy about is just that, merely a symbol (probably left over from Persian times). It wasn't even adopted until well into the 1400s, and only gained popularity after the Ottoman Empire, the last caliphate, featured it in its flag, and even then it is controversial within the Muslim world to this day. Green is more the Islamic symbol (it represents Paradise), but it's hard to spin that into hidden meanings. Also, the line right after is laughable:
      "At 25, he had married Khadija, a wealthy Catholic widow who was 40 years old..." (in reality, Khadija was pagan before she accepted Islam).
    • "Allah Had No Son";
      • Even if you assume a Translation Convention from Arabic, the Arabic word for (big-G) "God" simply is "Allah". Arabic-speaking Christians and Jewsnote  address their worship to "Allah". "Allah is not God" in Arabic would inevitably be a confusing statement to make, as shown in the Arabic translation of the tract, which uses"الله ليس إله"note  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.
      • The Muslim villain describes Muhammad as "the greatest of all prophets," which is considered blasphemy in Islam, which regards all of its prophets as equal.
      • He also makes a disparaging remark about "Jesus, the Jew," which makes no sense for a Muslim, who would regard Jesus as a sinless prophet created by God, to say. Also, Muslims consider all prophets, Jesus included, to be Muslims.
      • He also cites Qu'ran Chapter 5, Verse 33 as a reason why he could kill the hero for saying that Allah is a moon god, when in fact it says no such thing.note 
      • He also interrupts his prayers to engage the hero, which is a big no-no except in an emergency (which correcting a passerby's misconception of God almost certainly is not.)
      • The evangelist hero states that Mohammad called himself a prophet because he "needed the backing of his powerful tribe" to spread his religion. Anyone with even the slightest knowledge of the history of Islam knows that Mohammad's tribe was actually his greatest enemy until about two decades after he declared himself a prophet (and indeed, that was one of the reasons they turned on him).
      • The evangelist tells the Muslim villain to "ask his mullah" why Ramadan begins and ends on the crescent moon, which the villain gets cagey about like its some esoteric secret. Any Muslim knows that Ramadan begins and ends on the crescent moon because it is supposed to last for exactly a month, i.e. one full cycle of the moon. Trying to derive some significance from that is like trying to say that Jewish people worship a moon god because the Sabbath starts and ends at sundown, or that Christians worship a sun god because they use a solar calendar.
  • Azrael, the second series even more so than the first.
    • A particularly egregious example is the 2011 Bat Family Crossover Judgement 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.
    • The problem is, 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 (and his mother, Mary, as Azrael is Catholic, so he should know). 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").
    • For the series in general, the codename itself is both this trope and Artistic License – History. The Order of St. Dumas is an extreme Catholic organization splintering of The Knights Templar. Archangel Azrael is not directly from Christian doctrine, but from Judaism and Islam. The believers of the latter were who the Knights Templar were fighting against.
  • The Mighty Thor is ripe with artistic license from Horny Vikings to changing the genders of certain characters in Norse Mythology (e.g. 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.
  • Y: The Last Man: The series shows Swiss Guardswomen wearing their candy-striped uniforms and halberds for actual security detail. In reality, the Swiss Guard wear modern uniforms and equipment while performing their security duties. The ancient halberdier uniform is used only for ceremonial purposes.

  • The first Zeitgeist film fails so completely and utterly to get even one fact right about Christianity that even atheists and people skeptical of Christianity turned against it completely.
  • Religulous espouses the "Christ myth theory", claiming that Jesus was not a historical figure, but was actually based on the Egyptian god Horus. The idea of Horus and his divine parents influencing Christianity is fairly accepted, but Jesus being purely mythical is not.

    Fan Works 
  • Twila The Girl Who Waz In Luv With A Vampyre:
    "I DONT BELEVE IN GOD I AM N ATHEIST. i thnk saten created dis universe god bles u satan" [sic]
  • The "Ten Commodents" from StarKitsProphcy, including:
    11. No BENG GAY!f [sic]
  • Aen'rhien Vailiuri ends with Jaleh Khoroushi, an Iranian Shiite Muslim, agreeing to a friendly drink with Tovan tr'Khev. Observant Muslims don't consume alcohol. The author's notes for Peace Forged in Fire admitted this was a mistake, and the story itself offered the explanation that she gave up trying to keep halal on deployment years ago.
  • Sonic X: Dark Chaos has this trope in numerous places, mostly because of its intentionally exaggerated Darker and Edgier look at Judeo-Christian religions in the setting and backstory. Lampshaded by Chris, who explains to Sonic that the Judaism/Christianity/Islam equivalents in the Sonic universe are basically nothing like the ones on Earth.
    • The pentagram is depicted as a unique Satanic symbol. In reality, the pentagram is actually a Christian symbol representing the five wounds of Christ. According to Word of God, he just thought the pentagram looked cooler and that it made the Demons more distinct. Similarly, the crescent moon is used as a symbol for Islam as a whole — it's actually unique to Turkey. As above, Word of God is because it gave the Emirate of Mecca a distinct icon.
    • Human Sacrifice is strictly forbidden in Judaism, but according to Word of God the Jews of the Tribal Republic ritually sacrifice Loyalist Jews who are still loyal to the Demon Empire. Likewise, cannibalism is haraam in Islam, but the Muslims of the Emirate of Mecca use Human Resources from their tortured victims for basically everything (even construction material).
  • Angel of the Bat: Lots of this was intentionally invoked when creating the fictional Church of the Voice of God. Their outlandish claims include the Catholic Church imprisoned, censored, and killed Enochian Occultist Edward Kelley, that the man-turned-angel Enoch has only a few living descendants and that darkness is inherently evil, none of which are found in any religious teaching. Being a Catholic himself, the author got most of their teachings properly, though admitted through the text to giving a bogus explanation of The Eucharist because the character describing it had lapsed.
  • Sister Floriana: Nuns don't show their hair while wearing the habit. And they generally don't accept anyone into their ranks under the age of 18.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Prince of Egypt: The disclaimer at the opening of the film is open and straightforward about this. Some changes are made from the original Exodus story for the sake of drama.
    • In the original story, Moses was most certainly not a Prince. He was raised in Pharaoh's court, so he would have been considered nobility, but not royalty.
    • Moses probably always knew that he was a Hebrew in the original story, whereas in this film he does not figure it out until around his adult life.
    • In Exodus, Moses and Aaron are 80 and 83 years old, respectively, at the time of the plagues. While Moses is shown to have spent at least several years as a shepherd, he is still a young man when he confronts Rameses here.note 
    • Moses had Aaron actually deal with Pharaoh in the original story and also perform most of the miracles, in this version he does it all himself and receives only active opposition from Aaron until the Exodus is already underway.
    • Moses deliberately murdered the Egyptian guard whipping the slave and went so far as to try and hide the body. Here, the guard's death was a complete accident.
    • The Bible never mentions Pharaoh's name, only ever referring to him by title. Historians do not agree on which Pharaoh is most likely the one written of in Exodus. The film goes with Seti I as the Pharaoh who ordered the purge, and Rameses II as the Pharaoh at the time of the Plagues, which is one possibility, but not one considered very likely by most scholars. Canaan was actually part of Egypt at that time for one thing. There is no hard evidence for the story, quite particularly the Exodus.
    • The royal family's relationships are also shifted around. The Biblical Moses' adoptive mother was the current Pharaoh's daughter, not his wife, and the Pharaoh of the Exodus did not immediately follow the Pharaoh of the purge.
  • Scooby-Doo! and the Witch's Ghost introduced the Hex Girl, Thorn, as one-sixteenth Wiccan, which would make sense if Wicca doubled as an ethnic identity, but it doesn't. They also push the age of Wicca back at least to the Salem witch trials, whereas it actually dates from the 20th century (so being 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, though she was admittedly terrified out of her mind at the time and never took her vague Wicca-relation seriously in the first place) that she can cast magic, defeating the evil Witch. Oh yes, in this movie, rather than simply an ecologically-focused type of spirituality, Wiccans are good magic-users, and Witches are evil ones.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, as well as the older film that inspired it, Gunga Din. Both present Kali as the "Goddess of Death" when in fact there is no such thing in Hinduism. Kali is the Dark Action Girl Persona of Shakti, Shiva's wife, making her one of the Big Good deities of the Hindu Pantheon, and she takes on this form to punish evil.
  • In Bell, Book and Candle the religious mantra "ring the bell, close the book, quench the candle" is characterized as an exorcism ritual when actually it was an excommunication ritual.
  • 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 fail 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.
    • 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" idea 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 shucking God's edicts again, but having some sympathy once Loki actually got the chance to realize his wrongdoings and repent.
    • The rite of purification to make holy water is a little more involved than making the sign of the cross over some water. Granted, Bethany has that whole divine descendant thing going for her, but still.
  • Ben and Arthur portrays Catholicism very inaccurately, though most of these examples might be explained in-universe as Victor's church having unique...quirks:
    • Holy water is water that has been blessed by a priest. Chemically speaking, it's ordinary water. Sam Mraovich, however, believes that holy water is concocted through a recipe.
    • The church, which is meant to be a strict fundamentalist Catholic church (so much so that the congregation protests about the brother of a gay man attending until he's forced from the church by a priest), takes the ideas of karma and negative energy seriously. Specifically, "negative energy" is a concept whose definition varies between esoteric groups, while "karma" is a belief found in religions whose origins stem from India (e.g. Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism). Neither concept is discussed in the Bible and you would be hard-pressed to find any Christian denomination that teaches them.
    • While Victor is clearly seen entering and leaving a Catholic church, much of what he espouses, especially regarding the need to be "saved", is more aligned with Protestant teachings.
    • Upon fatally shooting Ben, Victor claims that killing him "saved his soul". If anyone in this film actually cared about real dogma, they'd realize killing Ben without giving him a chance to repent of his sins would be doing the opposite- putting it in great danger of damnation. Possibly justified in this case, seeing as Victor seems to have completely lost his mind at that point, so thinking logically wouldn't really be his strong suit.
  • The B-movie Lost Souls (2000) 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. Not to mention that baptism doesn't do jack to the possibility of being possessed. Its function is to prevent being condemned due to the Original Sin and to allow a person to receive other sacraments. It should also be noted that in extraordinary circumstances (as in when a person is likely to die unbaptised and there is no priest around), baptism can also be performed by a lay Catholic.
  • Quentin Tarantino admitted to making up most of Ezekiel 25:17, quoted in Pulp Fiction. 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."
  • Sister Act:
    • The film uses the terms "nun" and "sister" interchangeably, as in the title. In Catholicism, however, they're not the same thing: nuns live a life of contemplation while sisters engage in good works within their communities. All the nuns would have known the difference well before they took their vows, so it isn't a matter of them being afraid of getting involved with their community; it's simply not what they signed up to do. There is an even more basic difference; Nuns take 'Solemn Vows' and Sisters 'Simple Vows' basically the latter is easier to be dispensed from.
    • The nuns are stated to be a Carmelite order. Carmelite nuns traditionally wear brown habits, often with a pure white veil and cloak. The nuns in Sister Act wear black habits associated with the Dominican orders (and even then, some Dominican nuns also wear pure white or white with a black veil). And even the habits are a bit of a moot point since, by the era of the film, most modern Western nuns just wore plain uniform dresses or street clothes paired with, at most, a veil. The fact that the nuns of Sister Act still wore full habits is more evidence that they were nuns, not sisters.
    • While it's not impossible that nuns would give refuge to a woman in danger, they would under no circumstances dress her in the habit and pass her off as being a nun herself. And although Deloris is Catholic, she is clearly neither practicing nor in a state of grace, so Mother Superior would never have allowed her to receive the Eucharist, which would have blown her cover to the other nuns almost immediately.
    • The optimistic idea of using more marketable music to encourage participation in the Church had been in effect for decades and was still growing in popularity by 1992, but for secular pop hits revamped into nominally Christian songs to be substituted for genuine sacred music in Mass would be a serious liturgical abuse that the choir of nuns would have drawn the line at long before it became a battle with Mother Superior.
  • Stigmata: The film confuses 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.
  • Constantine (2005) 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. In fact, the church teaches that while suicide is intrinsically evil, severe mental illness can reduce or even exclude moral culpability and that we "should not despair for the souls of those who take their own lives" (2283 of the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church). 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 a 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'm a Catholic, John. I know the Crucifixion story." 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 31, 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.
  • 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 χξς, which doesn't look like anything upside down.
  • 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 Christians (i.e. only people who believe as they do exactly). So people who don't believe in the Rapture are not Christians, according to 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.
  • In It's a Wonderful Life Clarence the angel was once human. Humans are not angels and do not turn into them. Humans turn into saints, who are apparently conflated with angels because they both have haloes in popular art. The Mormons and Swedenborgians do believe some humans become angels, though they are the exceptions.
  • Played for Laughs in Donovan's Reef, which takes place in French Polynesia, as the story of the Nativity presents the three magi as the king of Polynesia, the emperor of China, and the king of the United States of America.
  • The Abominable Dr. Phibes took liberties with the biblical Ten Plagues of Egypt, changing the nature of some and the order in which several occur. Re-scheduling the Plague of Darkness to come after the Death of the Firstborn is particularly jarring, considering the latter is what Exodus attests had scared the Pharaoh into setting Moses' people free, thus alleviating the need for any more.
  • In the Mouth of Madness: Overlapping with Writers Cannot Do Math. Sutter Cane tries to convince John Trent that his horror books will to all intents and purposes become the new reality because his readers will believe in it, boasting that he has more followers than people who believe in The Bible and that his books have been translated into 18 languages. There are around 2 billion Christians in the world (and around half of the world population if every Abrahamic religion is counted) and the Bible has actually been translated into either hundreds or thousands of languages depending on how you measure it.
  • The Frisco Kid features several inaccuracies about Judaism, ranging from the relatively trivial to the more significant:
    • After Harrison Ford's character shoots the fish the rabbi has been trying to catch, the rabbi exclaims, "If you had been here yesterday, we would have had fried chicken!" In kosher law, while a fish may be eaten regardless of how it was killed, birds and mammals may not be eaten unless they were slaughtered strictly according to the laws of shechita, which involve a quick severing of the animal's neck.
    • The rabbi refuses to get on his horse on Shabbat, but he is seen pulling the horse with its reins, and traveling long distances by foot—both also forbidden activities on Shabbat.
    • Shabbat ends at sundown/dusk, not sunset.
    • The movie doesn't seem aware of a basic concept in Judaism called pekuach nefesh, the principle that nearly all the religious laws should be violated to save a person's life. He is seen repeatedly risking his life not to violate the Shabbat or see his Torah scroll be burned, and any rabbi would know he has no obligation to do such things, and that it's even considered a serious sin to endanger one's life for such purposes.
    • While it's understandable that the rabbi would feel traumatized after being forced to kill someone in self-defense, he'd know perfectly well that it's entirely permitted in Judaism. The movie makes it sound like his religion has some absolute prohibition on killing under any circumstance.
  • Silence: The film has Ferreira claim that the Japanese can't imagine anything beyond nature, thus they mistook "the Son" for the sun. Now, not only does this homonym make no sense in both Portuguese and Japanese where the words for this use entirely different sounds, but Buddhism and Shinto both definitely were based on notions of the supernatural. Possibly averted, though, in that this could just be a result of Ferreira's ignorance when it comes to Japan and Japanese religions.
  • Van Helsing:
    • Van Helsing must kill Dracula to prevent the Valerious family from "passing into Purgatory" and thus never reaching Heaven. Yeah, except that, according to Catholic dogma, passing into Purgatory means eventually ending up in Heaven. The movie states that they would be stuck in Purgatory forever, because of a special deal that the original Valerious made.
    • A friar isn't a lower-degree of monk who hasn't leveled up to taking vows (that's a novice). Monks are members of monastic orders who profess the three vows (poverty, chastity, and obedience) and live in a cloistered ascetic community (like the abbey that Van Helsing says Carl has never left). Friars are members of mendicant orders who profess the three vows and live in the community at large, moving around as necessary to do their work. Carl's right, he's not a monk; but his brown habit and tonsure clearly mark him out as a Franciscan friar (Order of Friars Minor), which very definitely means a vow of chastity (though the way he says this to a woman implies that he's just taken advantage of her ignorance).
  • God's Not Dead: The filmmakers clearly do not understand Islamic views on women's dress. While some more conservative Muslims do think women should cover their faces, there is no way that Aisha would then wear a top that shows her bare arms and cleavage while also wearing a head covering. This actually signifies that she was raised in a rather lax household and likely dons the veil as fashion rather than religious need.
  • Lord of War: Yuri states that his mother is Catholic. While not impossible, it is more likely that she would have been Orthodox, which was the majority faith of Christians in the Soviet Union and Ukraine in particular (Catholics make up a small minority).
  • The Courage To Love has a dramatic scene where a newborn may soon die. As the priest wouldn't come quickly enough, the parents urge the midwife to baptize her, despite her saying she can't. In fact, it can be performed by a layperson (that's the only one that is allowed by the Catholic Church) specifically as such emergencies arise. This dates back to the Middle Ages. As the midwife is a Catholic, and they were often the ones doing this, she should know it can be done. She ends up doing so anyway, but this is treated like she's breaking the rules (in a good cause).
  • Season of the Witch: The Catholic Church believes that demons can be exorcised with a single ritual, and no special, rare book is needed.
  • Ladyhawke: Imperius is described as a monk, but his background reveals he used to take confessions. In real life, a monk has not taken Holy Orders and thus cannot take confessions — he would need to be a priest to be able to hear confession and give absolution (of course, it is possible to be both a monk and a priest, but you would be more likely to refer to yourself as a priest in the same way that someone with credentials as both a paralegal and a lawyer would probably not mention the paralegal part). However, this might be intentional, as Imperius is later revealed to have become The Atoner for committing the crime of betraying secrets of the confessional (or so he thinks) — which hints he may have previously been a priest, only that he renounced his priestly vows and became a monk to repent, as it was done in the time and setting.
  • The Man from Earth: Apart from the whole central conceit that Jesus was actually an immortal man who faked his death using meditation, John states that Christianity is really just Buddhism with some mythology that got added later. Of course, this isn't true, and it's also not plausible, as the two religions are quite different on some foundational levels.
  • The main premise of Assassin 33 A.D. is that Islamic extremists are plotting to travel back in time to assassinate Jesus, thereby preventing Christianity from existing. Historical inaccuracies aside, the terrorists' entire plan makes no sense from an Islamic perspective, given that Jesus is considered a major prophet in Islam and is held in reverence by Muslims (Muslims believe that Jesus would descend to Earth to lead the faithful before the Last Judgment). It would be akin to a Christian traveling back in time to kill Moses out of anti-Semitism.
  • Sunday School Musical, as one might expect from a The Asylum mockbuster, does not seem to understand what "Sunday school" is. The term refers to classes held prior to or during a church service for the education of Christian doctrine and beliefs. However, the film instead seems to think that the term refers to a Christian school (i.e., an otherwise-normal Monday-Friday school that is run by a Christian institution).
  • Wendigo: The wendigo in this film does not act like an actual wendigo in Native American legends: It is said that a wendigo is a malicious spirit that will possess humans to eat other humans. While the wendigo in the film is malicious and torments all the characters such as chasing Otis and it's implied its influence is what drives Otis to go after George and his family, it never once makes them go cannibalistic.
  • A New York Christmas Wedding: Father Kelly reads part of First Corinthians, saying it's from the Old Testament, which is wrong. Any priest would know it's from the New.
  • Anger Management: When Dave confronts his childhood-bully-turned-Buddhist-monk, Buddy claims that Dave made an offensive joke about Buddha, to which the monk responds "let's not make fun of my god here". Buddhists do not view Buddha as a god, but as a wise teacher with no divinity.
  • The Exorcist:
    • One scene shows Karras breaking the communion host during the Eucharistic Prayer while speaking the words of consecration. While Karras gets the words right, in an actual Catholic Mass the breaking of the bread takes place later, just prior to the priest taking communion.
    • The scene shows only Fathers Merrin and Karras participating in the exorcism. In cases where the possessed is female the church has specified that there should be one other female present if possible in order to assure "propriety and discretion" on the part of the others performing the rite.
    • According to official guidelines an exorcist should avoid performing an exorcism alone, which Father Merrin does when he sends Father Karras out of the room.
  • In-universe in two adaptations of Carrie:
    • The 2002 film has Margaret scolding her daughter for making her own prom dress, supposedly quoting Ezekiel 13 - "woe to the woman who makes garments with lustful purposes". The actual quote refers to false prophecy, not lust. Carrie then snarks "sometimes I think you make that stuff up".
    • The 2013 film has the famous part where Margaret lectures that Sex Is Evil, and Eve was punished with "the curse of blood", and Carrie tries to argue that isn't even in the Bible, but gets hit for speaking out of turn.
  • Black Narcissus:
    • The original American release had a title card referring to the nuns as Anglicans. They're said in the film itself to be part of the Servants of St Mary, which is a Roman Catholic order. This may have been to prevent backlash from the Catholic Legion of Decency, since the story deals with the nuns questioning their faith.
    • Sister Clodagh is still called Clodagh in flashbacks to her pre-vocational life in Ireland. Nuns traditionally take a new name when first taking their vows. The 2020 miniseries corrects this by having her reveal to Mr Dean that her name was previously Katherine.
  • The Skeleton Key has Hoodoo as the plot focus and does distinct it from regular Hollywood Voodoo (as Caroline first assumes). Jill does explain that it's "African folk magic" but says that "God doesn't have much to do with it". Hoodoo is an actual folk practice but most of its adherents are Protestant Christians, meaning God has a lot to do with it.

  • 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 (in the 1940s) 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 on the controversy — they were originally neutral on the subject but later came down in favor of it (in fact, English Protestants both supported and rallied against the theory in more or less equal measure). 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 appears to be without sin yet have never known Christianity: in Real Life, the Vatican 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?!note ) The claim that the Catholic Church/the Pope opposes evolution is still used today. Especially egregious considering that evolution is part of the Catholic catechism. Or, you know, Gregor Mendel? That guy with peas who figured out the theory of genetics and was also an Augustinian friar. He not only had no objection to evolution but wrote Darwin of his findings as evidence bolstering this. Unfortunately, it was lost in his voluminous correspondence, but rediscovery of Mendelian genetics helped to prove its validity.
  • 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.
  • The Father Brown stories by G. K. Chesterton:
    • 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. One example is The God of the Gongs, in which Chesterton randomly decides that there's a form of Voodoo that involves Human Sacrifice.
    • Used in-universe in The Blue Cross, where 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.
    • Used in-universe in The Vampire of the Village. An Anglican parson shows a strange mix of High-Churchman and Low-Churchman traits. This leads 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.
  • 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.
  • John J. Miller's Wild Cards novel Death Draws Five is an over-the-top plot with various Sinister Ministers and Knight Templars, which depends entirely on the fact that he did not research what Christians of ANY denomination actually believe concerning the Second Coming.
  • 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 probably are some who believe that fossils were made by Satan.
  • Left Behind is very accurate in its portrayal of a very specific flavor of pre-millennial dispensationalists the writers belong to. (Even if it is weird to see the formerly non-believing protagonists talk and behave like long-term believers instantly upon converting.) Everyone else (from Catholics, Jews, and Atheists right up to competing pre-millennials) gets the shaft, badly.
  • 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 Isaac's family servant (usually said to be Eleazer) 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.
  • In His Dark Materials, the climax of the trilogy hinges on the 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 the theft ("be fruitful and multiply" and all that).
    • And then, of course, there is the statement that 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 a major patron of the sciences. 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 Power of Five: Horowitz takes a few liberties with the belief system of the Incas, several Native American myths, some Ancient Chinese legends, and even the theology syllabus of Roman universities in order to work the cosmology of the series into them. Also, in a more nitpicky example, he claims that the five-pointed star symbol of the Gatekeepers has "nothing to do with Christianity", which isn't strictly true—a few examples of early Christian artwork do use a similar five-pointed star as a symbol of Christ. It would still be a bit odd to find it carved on a secret door in the Vatican, but it wouldn't be as unbelievable as the book implies. The Incan tumi given to Richard is described as having a sharp point. Tumis do not have points; the blade is semicircular.
  • In the epilogue to Burning Water, Mercedes Lackey admits she changed several elements of Aztec Mythology to fit story needs.
  • The author of A Wolf in the Soul admits in his introduction to creating some highly speculative aspects of Jewish mysticism that may not be in any way accurate.
  • In The Hammer and the Cross, Harry Harrison introduces Thor as the Norse god of smiths, something not within the historic Thor's domain. He needed a god of blacksmithing, and the Norse simply didn't have one: the closest approximation, Wayland, being highly inappropriate for the modified Norse religion that forms the core of the story.
  • In the ninth A Certain Magical Index volume, Tsuchimikado says specifically that a group of peasants' conversion to Christianity "wiped out their history, traditions and mental culture". This is not how religion works, for many reasons — most prominently the fact that not all parts of any given culture are religious. It's about on par with saying a Japanese Christian cannot eat ramen anymore because they believe in Jesus. The connection is simply not there.
  • In The Love and Death of Caterina by Andrew Nicoll, a Roman Catholic priest prays in his room to saint Maximilian Kolbe and then performs the sacrament of extreme unction according to the old rites. Extreme unction was changed into anointing of the sick (and the whole rite changed) in 1972, while Kolbe was canonized in 1982. If the priest was praying to servant of God Kolbe, that would be fine.
  • In Ill Met By Moonlight, set in the mid-1500s, a passing mention is made of "the Hebrew six-pointed star", in the same context as the Christian cross or the Islamic crescent. Problem is, the Star of David as a symbol of Judaism is far Newer Than They Think: it only started seeing widespread use in the late 1800s.
  • Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: In the third book, it's mentioned a few times that Samirah never bathes while fasting, and she talks about it as though it is a dogma. Except what she does is unnecessary; fasting in Islam requires you to abstain from many things, but bathing is not one of them. She may attempt to avoid drinking water while gargling, but it's a long shot unless you deliberately want to do it.

    Live Action TV 
  • On the QI panel game (you know, the one that centres its entire premise around dispelling common misconceptions), Steven Fry gleefully stated as outright fact (in the Christmas special, no less) that the biblical account of Jesus was based on the Mithraic Mystery Cult. Quite apart from the fact that we know almost nothing about them (well they were a mystery cult), a lot of what we do know contradicts many of the claims made on the show (and by many others besides the QI researchers). Sorry QI, but you fail history and religious studies forever. 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 of Christianity are based on earlier religions and folklore. 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 "Wiccan" religion, and one can accept the religion without being an initiated "witch".
    • A particularly bad case was the episode about the warlock/deacon who was becoming a priest to cleanse himself of his evil heritage, 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 paganism other than Norse or Greco-Roman. And she was burned in Salem. Anyone who frequents TV Tropes knows the drill: convicted witches were hanged in Salem, not burned (one man was pressed to death for refusing to plead to the charges).
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • The fact that vampires view the original Good Friday as the best day for them, as it was the Crucifixion. It is, however, fundamentally wrong from a theological perspective (not that you'd expect vampires to know anything about theology anyway...). After all, Christians view the Crucifixion as a necessary step to the Resurrection, which opened the gates of Heaven to humankind, something vampires have been denied when they were turned... Oops.
    • The show 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: Talk, all talk! Blah blah, Gaia, blah blah, moon, menstrual life-force power thingy. You know, after a couple of sessions I was hoping we would get into something real, but...
    Buffy: No actual witches in your witch group?
    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.
    • An early episode also featured a group of vampires celebrating the feast of St. Vigeous, Patron Saint of vampires. One wonders how a saint dedicated to demonic predators was canonised in the first place, but presumably, it's just their name for him, or maybe vampires have their own religion, including saints?
    • Actually, and this may surprise, there is a patron saint of vampires — however, it is a very obscure story and deals with the saint killing the vampire, meaning one would invoke him to protect yourself from vampires.
  • Any time Supernatural goes near religion.
    • A girl in the pilot episode claims the pentacle is a Satanic symbol, but the trope is subverted when Sam corrects her by explaining the various other meanings ascribed to the symbol.
    • Check out any episode where they talk about the old pagan gods; the show just uses the term 'Pagan God' for any "god" of an old polytheistic religion, as if all the thousands of polytheistic religions were all a monolithic, united religion known as "Paganism." They specifically say the Trickster exists in Norse and Egyptian mythology, and that the Vanír were Norse gods, too.
    • The fourth season deals with our heroes trying to make sure that at least "66 of 666 seals" keeping Satan in Hell remain in place since the Book of Revelation says that this will begin the Apocalypse. One problem: there is nothing about "66 of 666 seals" anywhere in Revelation, it's something made up to provide an episode-to-episode conflict for the 20+ episode season.
    • An angel scolds 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 and it also fails to mention a singular figure called "the Antichrist." The former is a piece of popular folklore and the latter is a name applied to the two Beasts described in the final book of the New Testament. You'd think an angel would know better.
    • 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 realize that "Samhain" is also the Irish word for "November", so it wouldn't exactly be difficult to check the pronunciation...
    • The idea that there's a demon called Samhain who's honored on the day wasn't invented by the show, but it's a piece of anti-pagan propaganda, not a legitimate legend.
    • 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 based on Wings of Desire, which features an angel who falls from heaven to become the human lover of a woman.
    • Despite having a two-season arc where the forces of Heaven and Hell conspire to make the events of the Book of Revelation happen, the Second Coming of Jesus isn't even referenced, despite the fact that the entire point of the Revelation is that the whole Apocalypse serves as a sign of the coming and final judgment of Christ. Reasons for this notable absence include the secular leanings of the writers, the strong effect of the Jesus Taboo, and the difficulty of aligning the show's antagonistic take on Heaven and the popular notion that Jesus Was Way Cool. Instead, the Apocalypse is simply depicted as a massive cataclysmic event/war that'll either completely destroy humanity or mostly destroy them except for a few survivors to rebuild paradise with, depending on which demon or angel you listen to.
    • Sam, in order to create purified blood, confesses one particular sin (as he sees it) in an empty confessional booth. Reconciliation (the sacrament) involves going to an actual priest, reciting a specific prayer, confessing all sins, and doing some sort of penance, none of which Sam does. It's implied that he does something similar to prayer, which, while very nice, isn't the same thing as reconciliation.
  • 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 X-Files
    • The worst example 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; "John 52:54" doesn't exist.
  • The Doctor Who serial "The Daemons" implied that Beltane was a night for evil spirits when it, in fact, was a day for purification, transition, and fertility rituals.
  • Bones
    • The first episode 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.
    • It also claimed (through Sweets) that the pentagram is an Ancient Wiccan Symbol signifying solidarity and sisterhood. Sumer, Pythagoras, and Agrippa would like to have a word with you. The symbol has not only been used by pagans but also Christians before its modern use by Satanist groups tainted it for them.
    • In episode 10 of the 5th season, 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 schoolboy, 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 idea of 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. This very same thing happens in an episode of CSI. The team investigates a girl's death during an exorcism. The church performing the exorcism turns out to be made entirely of the exorcist and a handful of followers.
  • On the TV miniseries Roots (1977), 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). They could be less-observant Muslims (actually fairly common for West African Muslim peoples far from the region's great cities).
  • 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  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 "Wiccan priestess" 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."
  • Criminal Minds
    • The episode "Minimal Loss" 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.
  • Invoked and Played for Laughs in Monty Python's the Last Supper sketch, in which Michelangelo invokes artistic license in his defense after painting The Last Supper with a kangaroo, a mariachi band, a conjurer, a trampoline act, 28 disciples and three Christs. The commissioner (the pope) is altogether less than pleased.
  • In Hell on Wheels, Mormon Aaron Hatch says Bohannon has damned his daughter Naomi to Outer Darkness for eternity because they had extramarital sex (and she got pregnant). However, Mormon doctrine is that only those who have first accepted the Holy Ghost and then denied it will go to Outer Darkness, which you'd expect he would know. See "Plan of Salvation" on the Mormonism page.
  • Frasier: Very many in the Bar Mitzvah episode: the fact that the service ends after Frederick finishes reading his haftara (there is a whole other prayer service that follows); the fact that a dinner is apparently served then (this service is in the morning); Martin taking photos in a synagogue on the Sabbath (even in a Conservative synagogue he would be asked to stop). In-universe, Frasier gets tricked into phonetically reading a prayer in what turns out to be Klingon.
  • The Good Wife:
    • In a rather awkward and contrived manner, with Zack's (ex-)girlfriend Nisa. Initially, it's only her skin color that's a topic of debate (because of the possible repercussions for Peter's campaign), but later she is mentioned to be the daughter of a Hamas-sympathizing Muslim cleric, which basically rolls three separate unlikely scenarios into one. A Muslim girl not wearing a scarf? Progressively more unlikely the more conservative the family gets. A Muslim girl allowed to have a boyfriend before marriage? Progressively more unlikely the more conservative the family gets. A Muslim girl allowed to have a nonbeliever as a boyfriend? Unlikely even for moderately Muslim families. All of the above at once, with the father in question being the aforementioned Hamas-sympathizing cleric? You must be joking, even if the boyfriend is the son of the Cook County State's Attorney (and later Illinois Governor), unless the support stems from seeing them as the Lesser of Two Evils in a Black-and-Gray Morality interpretation of the Arab–Israeli Conflict. Later it strains credibility even further when we find out that Zack got Nisa pregnant, which means they were having pre-marital sex, and they didn't marry but had an abortion.
    • In an early episode, an Orthodox Jewish couple is sued by a woman who was injured in front of their store on Shabbat, while walking to the local kosher grocery store, a store that wouldn't have been open on Shabbat. No one questions this.
  • Played for laughs in the How I Met Your Mother episode "The Three Days Rule", in which Barney explains the allegedly biblical origins of the titular rule:
    Ted: Barney, the three days rule is insane! I mean, who even came up with that?
    Barney: ...Jesus.
    Marshall: Barney, don't do this. Not with Jesus.
  • Quantico: A cadet says his mother died in the hospital because his father refused to allow a blood transfusion for her as he was a Christian Scientist. However, the opposition to blood transfusions is part of Jehovah's Witnesses' beliefs, not Christian Scientists' (Christian Science encourages believers to use their healing practices, but still does not forbid using regular medicine if need be).
  • Faking It: Judaism does have angels. Some Jews also do believe in Hell.
  • The pilot episode of Bonekickers focuses around the discovery of the true cross, and the villain planning to use this proof of Christ's existence to drive the Muslims into a holy war. Apparently, nobody bothered to tell him that Muslims do believe that Jesus existed, just that he wasn't God. From the way the episode is framed, it doesn't seem like the writers were intentionally setting him up as an idiot. However, as Muslims believe Jesus didn't actually die on the cross, it still might go some way to causing problems if this were proven.
  • Outlander:
    • Although Charles Edward Stuart is correctly portrayed as a Catholic, raised in Italy, the Scottish were not still mostly Catholic at this point. Scotland had been majority Reformed Presbyterian all the way back to John Knox in the 1560s. Thus, the talk of the "heretic" Hanoverians is pretty far off. The difference in religion was the least of the Scottish concerns at the time. This series seems to underline that most Scots still are Catholic by faith (Jamie, for instance, is constantly crossing himself). In reality, it was only the Highland clans who were still Catholics (and not surprisingly make up the bulk of Jacobites). The series doesn't make this clear.
    • Moreover, not all the Highlanders were Catholic. Clan Campbell, one of the largest and most famous of all the Scottish clans, was firmly Protestant, as were several others.
    • In "Providence", Roger meets Father Alexandre Ferigault, who's a French Catholic priest held captive by the Mohawk because he offended them by not performing baptism on the son he fathered with a woman of their tribe. He tells Roger that is Catholic doctrine as he's not in a state of grace, due to violating his vows by conceiving the boy. This is wrong, though. Catholic doctrine says that a sacrament stays valid regardless of the spiritual state of the person who performs it because in their belief it's God, not the human being, who has done it. The opposite view, called Donatism, is actually condemned as a heresy by the Church. Although it's implied that the priest's own self-loathing for having an affair is what's really motivating him and making him a Death Seeker.
    • The Mohawk people in the show are depicted as being unfamiliar with Christianity and the doctrine of the religion. In reality, the Haudenosaunee as a whole had known of Christianity for well over 150 years by this point and had had many dealings with missionaries already. A significant number would already have converted.
  • In the 1997 miniseries Ivanhoe it's said the sacrament of penance (i.e. absolution) can only be received once in a person's lifetime. Whoever wrote that clearly didn't know even the most basic facts of Catholicism at all. There's no limit, and in fact shortly after this is set the Church actually mandated people have the sacrament at least once a year because many had been neglecting it. Heresy trials didn't really occur yet at the time either by the Church, so the forced baptism of a Jew (itself not considered valid) so he can then be tried for this over rejecting Christ would not work.
  • Sleeper Cell: In-Universe, on a train some thugs start harassing a Sikh man thinking he's a Muslim. Darwyn beats them up and then delivers a lecture pointing out that traditionally Muslims have actually been enemies of Sikhs, with conflict going back centuries. He also notes multiple times that Muslim terrorists twist real Islamic teachings to justify themselves, which disgusts him.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): "Corner Of The Eye" Father Royce objects to Father Jonascu's healing ability being a divine gift by saying only Jesus had that power. However, in Catholic belief, many Apostles and later saints healed the sick miraculously too.
  • Cursed (2020): While this is a parallel universe, the culture does also seem intended to be based on that of early medieval Europe. Thus, some departures from real-world medieval Catholicism are noteworthy:
    • The Red Paladins, a Catholic order of warrior monks, are portrayed as crucifying Fey and then burning them alive on the crosses. Historically, Christians considered imitating Christ by even letting themselves ever be crucified abhorrent. It was something to be avoided if at all possible. Thus, according to tradition, Peter was crucified upside down at his request (with an upside-down cross becoming a symbol of the Pope afterward because of it). Similarly, Andrew was said to be crucified on an X-shaped cross (such a symbol is now called the St. Andrews cross after his name). While not impossible attitudes differ in another world, this would be more likely viewed as blasphemous. Burning at the stake was generally used against "enemies of God" like heretics and supposed witches, similar to the Fey in their view here. Fey here are burned and crucified.
    • Father Carden believes that the Weeping Monk can be saved, despite being Fey. Yet other Fey never receive a chance for this-Carden specifically says no mercy must be given to them. While that might make sense if they're perceived as irredeemable demons, it also contradicts what he claims. This could be viewed as simply Carden's own bigotry, but this stance is portrayed as having the Pope's sanction, which goes against the Catholic doctrine, which says any person (non-humans were in fact discussed by theologians at times) must be given an opportunity to accept Christianity. Human pagans also seem to be killed without mercy like Fey, rather than at least attempting at converting them being made.
  • Lie to Me: In the pilot episode, the family of a Jehovah's Witness kid accused of murder use some religious idioms that are seldom expressed in the JW world except in parody or sarcasm, such as "praying for your soul". Also, the JW child is afraid of being sent to Hell. This is a major research failure: Jehovah's Witnesses don't believe in Hell. Further, it's highly unlikely they would "pray for your soul" given they don't believe in the soul in the terms most understand it. Body and soul are not viewed as separate things. Rather, people will be resurrected by God in their belief if righteous, while sinners are left dead.
  • An episode of Grey's Anatomy revolved around an Orthodox Jewish girl who was unable to receive a heart valve transplant from a pig due to the animal not being kosher. However, under Jewish law, one is not only permitted but required to violate virtually any commandment if doing so is necessary to save a life. The episode drew swift criticism from Jewish religious leaders, with some even saying it endangered the lives of Jews who might avoid receiving medically necessary treatment due to the claims made in the episode. Additionally, while eating pig is forbidden (except in life-saving situations), thid does not apply to pig parts entering one's body by other methids, such as a transplant.
  • Quite similarly, Nurses (a Canadian medical drama) also had an episode where an Orthodox Jewish man rejected a transplant due to the fact it might come from a woman or Arab. While some rabbis do object to heart transplants, due to the claim that the donor is still alive when the heart is removed and as a result it's removal would be considered murder (one case which is not overrided by the need to save a life), this would not be any worse if the donor is a woman or a non-Jew. It was widely criticized for the same reasons, with the episode later being entirely removed from streaming and reruns.
  • Resident Alien: Sahar declares she'll never get married, as only men can initiate divorce in Islam (which as a young feminist she dislikes). However, there's at least three methods where a woman is able to. Sarah might just not know, making it an In-Universe example.
  • Moon Knight (2022):
    • The show presents Ammit as a goddess who judges people to be good or evil based on all of their actions, past, present, and future. While Ammit was feared as a Soul Eater in the Egyptian religion, she was never a judge of anyone. She was more like an executioner, punishing those who had been judged to be evil by Anubis. Granted, Harrow does claim that Ammit got tired of having to wait for Anubis's judgment and decided to become more proactive in punishing the wicked, so if his word is worth anything, it's possible that Ammit used to be more like the myths. Avid Egyptologist Steven also notes that this is the first time he's heard of that interpretation.
    • Taweret, the goddess of childbirth and fertility, also takes the role of psychopomp and The Ferryman of the boat leading to the Field of Reeds, when it is originally the role of a few overlapping deities: the boat's captain Aken / Kherty, and the actual ferryman Aker / Mahaf. That said (possibly in a case of in-universe justification), Taweret is shown to be fumbling around with the protocol of the job, suggesting that she was saddled with the duty against her will due to the shifts amongst the Ennead throughout the millennia. The fact that many other deities were also imprisoned in ushabtis much like Khonshu before him helps explain this as well.

  • 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. And the Psalms and Revelation are found in The Bible, not in a "prayer guide". And no, if any, Christian denominations use a "prayer guide" during services, although some use a Book of Common Prayer. Though the Book of Common Prayer does include a Psalter (The Book of Psalms laid out for communical recitation). Seems they might have a passing familiarity with Anglicanism? The Book of Revelation/Psalm thing... yeah that's a big screw-up.
  • Done deliberately with The Alan Parsons Project's "Genesis ch. 1 v. 32" from I, Robot. The Book of Genesis, chapter 1, ends with verse 31; which was kind of the point.
  • It's probably a deliberate joke, but in "Rock the Casbah" by The Clash, they twice follow the refrain of "Sharif don't like it" with "He says that it's not kosher". He would, of course, actually say that it's not halal.
  • The Australian band the Hoodoo Gurus. Hoodoo is a set of spiritual practices, traditions, and beliefs that were created and concealed from slave-owners by enslaved Africans in North America, while a guru is a teacher in Indian-originated religions.

  • Bally's classic Fireball pits the player against the Fire Gods — Odin and Wotan. That's the same guy, just with his name translated differently. It'd be like the team-up of Jesus and Yeshua ben Yosef.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Mage: The Ascension: The Taftani craft of mages are described as a Zoroastrian-descended group with a dislike for monotheism — when in reality Zoroastrianism was one of the first monotheistic religionsnote . Considering the neopagan leanings of much of White Wolf's writing team, this may have been a case of Writer on Board.
  • Battletech: In the opening fiction of Historical: Liberation of Terra II, a character, identified as a member of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith note  says the following: "By the authority vested in me by the Curia and His Holiness I excommunicate you and condemn you to eternal Purgatory". No actual Catholic would say that. Religious authority ultimately flows from Jesus Christ through the Pope and the bishops and not the Curia (which itself is roughly analogous to the US or UK Cabinets). Purgatory, in Catholic dogma, is not eternal, as it is where souls on their way to Heaven go to be cleansed of the effects of venial sins and already confessed and absolved mortal sins. The excommunication bit is also dodgy, as excommunication is a remedial penalty for Catholics which means they cannot receive any of the sacraments until they seek lifting of the penalty from an authority competent to lift the excommunication. It is not another term for "damned to Hell".

  • For a verismo (or so-called "realistic") opera, Cavalleria Rusticana has some pretty skewed ideas of how excommunication works. Apparently, according to the opera, a woman's membership in the Catholic Church hinges entirely on whether she is a virgin or not. So, when Santuzza is deserted by her lover, the Church wastes no time in excommunicating her even though she has not committed any serious heresy, without even giving her a chance to tell her side of the story. Also, despite the fact that the Book of Deuteronomy prescribes a Shotgun Wedding as punishment for pre-marital sex, none of the Sicilian villagers ever seriously considered pressuring the said lover into marrying Santuzza.
  • In Man of La Mancha, the comic musical number "I'm Only Thinking of Him" is traditionally staged with Antonia and the Housekeeper making confessions to the Padre from booths located on opposite sides of him. Some confessionals really are designed and built this way, but because the penitents' privacy may not be compromised, the two sides would never actually be used simultaneously as portrayed by this staging.

    Video Games 
  • 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.....
  • Namu Amida Butsu! -UTENA- -– Artistic License — Religion: The Game. While it does show its work in terms of Buddhist deities, their positions, and their relationship, it depicts them as good-looking animesque people engaging in modern-day Slice of Life antics in between fighting evil.
  • Ōkami 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 justifiable because a) it's like depicting Odin as a boar because boars were relevant in Norse Mythology, and b) not all other kami are depicted as wolves. Amaterasu is a wolf because of a pun. Wolf is written as ookami, which can also mean "great god".
  • Pony Island: Asmodeus is the demon king of lust, but he doesn't seem all that interested in love or sex over testing your wits in the most horrendous way possible. Also, Beelzebub is another name for Satan, in this game they're different demons altogether.
    • Makes a bit more sense if you connect Lucifer's statement immediately before the Beelzebub encounter. You get to the mostly incomplete ending of Adventure Mode, and he says that HE is the last boss. This is just Metaphorically True.
  • Crusader Kings II: Leaving aside the Alternate History Wank caused by the game's reliance on random events and gameplay options such as pagan reformations and the Jews retaking the holy land, the game is overall pretty good at accurate portrayal of religion (aside from faiths where we have little data, such as Eastern European pagan beliefs). Still:
    • The game's portrayal of European Christianity starts before 1066 and is the source of arguments over whether it's appropriate to have Catholicism and Orthodoxy be separate denominations before the Great Schism (when the Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch excommunicated each other in 1054). Truth is, it's hazy: while in the earliest starts particularly they were officially considered the same church, there were already differences in practice and doctrine such as autocephalous national Orthodox churchesnote  and giving services in the vernacularnote  Of particular note is Orthodox characters' ability to mend the Great Schismnote  at earlier dates than it actually took place.
    • Outside of Christianity, the game conflates Germanic paganism with Norse paganism (they were related but distinct, especially at the early start dates). It should be noted that the religion used to be called "Norse" until the Charlemagne DLC, which added a start date set in 769 and the pagan kingdom of Saxony in Germany. The devs preferred to merge both religions rather than create two separate ones, one which would be exclusive to a start date and in a singular region in Germany.
    • The Yazidis are considered a Sunni heresy in-game, despite being completely distinct and independent of Islam in real life. The same issue is present for Manichaeism, which is implemented as a heresy of Zoroastrianism rather than a separate faith. To mitigate this somewhat, Yazidism gets its own set of holy sites and unique creation conditions for its equivalent to the caliph. Jade Dragon likewise gives Manichaeism and other Zoroastrian heresies its own mechanics.
    • On the flip side, Bön is implemented as an organized, pagan religion distinct from the Dharmic/eastern religious branch and counts Buddhists as heathens. While real-life Bön do claim the religion is older than Buddhism's arrival in Tibet, in practice there is no evidence of its existence prior to the 11th century and its current-day incarnation is so intertwined with Buddhist rituals and thought so as to make it more of a Buddhist sect than a distinct religion.
    • With Jade Dragon, the absence of Confucianism/Neo-Confucianism is somewhat noticeable, especially as the entire system of Chinese Meritocracy (which is present in-game) is based on its precepts. All Chinese characters are instead Taoist. This is most likely because creating two new religions entirely for the purpose of an off-screen faction (neither really caught on outside China) would be excessive.
    • The portrayal of the Messalians as not only allowing, but encouraging incest, and having Lucifer listed as one of their Good gods. These are based on claims made by people who were denouncing the sect, who also claimed that they would then take any child born of incest and offer it to Satan, after which they would eat it. Modern scholars agree that these accusations are false.
    • African Paganism is the in-game representation of the paganistic native beliefs of several ethnic groups living in modern-day Niger and Chad, including the Mandé, Hausa, and Songhai people. Its selection of deities as of Holy Fury includes Anansi and Vodun patrons, which are features of native religions from the Gulf of Guinea some ways away. This geographical distance applied to Europe would mean the Bolghars (early-game Tengri pagans in modern-day Romania and Bulgaria) would be able to worship Odin and Ukko.
  • Crusader Kings III expands even more in the number of religions and does an excellent job in representing them accurately, but there's still some oddities:
    • Qarmatian characters can take the Hajj, even though the Qarmatians were an Islamic sect that considered the Hajj to be based in superstition and even attacked the pilgrimage routes. This is fixed in 1.1 for both them and Alawites.
    • "Ash'arism" is the largest and most dominant Sunni Islam faith in-game. It exists in the 867 start even though it was founded by Abu al-Hasan al-Ashʿari (which the school lends its name from) in the year 936.
    • The Catholic church did not approve the persecution of witches until the end-date of the game: Official Catholic teaching between the 11th and 15th centuries was that there were no such things as 'witches' or 'magic' and anyone believing in either was a heretic, a pagan, or mentally ill.
    • Advaita vedanta is considered a separate Hindu religion from the others represented in the game. In real life, it is a different thing altogether. The smarta/shakist/shaivite/vaishnavite distinction is of which gods are the supreme gods, with shaktists saying it is the mother godess, shaivas saying it is Shiva, vaishnavas saying it is Vishnu, and smartas saying it is all of them. The advaita/dvaita distinction is whether you believe that there is only one divine spirit that encompasses everything or two divine spirits, one of celestials and one of earthly beings. Indeed, Smartism and Shaktism are exclusively advaita religions, meaning in order to be a smarta or a shaktist you must also believe in Advaita.
  • Persona 5: Despite employing demonic avatars of the Seven Deadly Sins as a central motif, the story only uses four of the standard demons associated with a given sin as popularized by Peter Binsfeld: Asmodeus (Lust), Leviathan (Envy), Mammon (Greed) and Beelzebub (Gluttony), with Beelzebub using the name of the Semitic god he was a demonized form of, Baal. Lucifer (Pride) and Satan (Wrath) are replaced by Samael and the Sphinx, respectively. Sloth has no demon associated with it, due to being represented by the people of Tokyo as a whole and the game features an 8th sin in the form of Vanity, which gets its own demon, Azazel.
  • Cyberpunk 2077 features a Shinto shrine in Night City's Japantown. Unfortunately, apart from the Torii gates, its design seems to be mostly based on a Buddhist temple and is manned by what looks to be Buddhist monks.
  • The games in the Baker Street Kids series for Apple ][ and Commodore 64 have a lot of changes that differ from The Bible, sometimes getting a lot of points and facts wrong in translation for the sake of story or due to Pragmatic Adaptation. Examples include:
    • In the "God's Creation" segment of Early Heroes of the Bible (the first half of the Book of Genesis; and one of the Series 1 games [1984]), what we read here, with the omission of most of Genesis 2,note  differs from what is read in the actual Book of Genesisnote .
      • The "Noah's Ark" segment of the same game claims that it took Noah 120 years to build an ark, while never stating the longest lifespan for humans; the Bible actually never stated how long it took him to build an ark, and actually says that as a result of people living in wickedness and sin for nearly 1,000 years, God shortened their lifespan so that they may live for no more than 120 years in the future (Genesis 6:3).
      • The "Tower of Babel" segment mislabeled "Shinnar" as "Babylon" and claimed that Tower would be "important" in "[keeping them] together" and "prevent [them] from being scattered" (translation error).
      • The "Abram's Family" segment claims that God told Abram "I will cause you to become a father of a great nation" (translation error), when many other Bible versions quote God in saying "I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you."
      • The "Abram and Lot" segment has a lot of translation errors. Examples: it mistranslates "herders" as "servants", and "the Lord's garden" as "the Garden of Eden"; it also claims that Abram told Lot, "Choose one piece of the land and I will choose the land that's left. If you choose this piece, I will choose that piece. If you choose that piece, I will choose this piece" (translation errors), when the Bible actually quotes Abram in saying, "Is not the whole land at your disposal? Please separate from me; if you prefer the left, I will go to the right; if you prefer the right, I will go to the left."
      • The "Covenant with Abraham" part gets some facts wrong: it says that "Sarah" means "princess" while ignoring the fact that her former name, "Sarai", also meant "princess". And it claimed that Abraham said with confidence, "I will have a baby boy when I am a hundred years old. And Sarah will have a baby when she is ninety" (a translation error) when the Bible actually says that he had some doubt and confusion, asking as he laughed, "Can a child be born to someone who is but a hundred years old? Or can Sarah give birth at ninety?", while ignoring and skipping over the fact that Abraham had a son named Ishmael through Hagar, and that Abraham told God, "Let but Ishmael live on by your favor!"
      • The "Abraham's Visitors" segment claimed that God told Abraham that he would destroy Sodom before the men left (translation error) when the Bible actually says that after the two angels left for Sodom, God said that he was going to investigate Sodom to see whether the complaints against it were true.
      • The "Sodom and Gomorrah" segment misinterprets Zoar's "small place" as "little city". It also omits the fact that when the men of Sodom wanted to sexually abuse the angels, Lot tried to make an offer to hand his two daughters to them, but they rejected the offer and wanted to sexually abuse him along with them. The segment also claims that Abraham helped God rescue Lot and his family (translation error) when the Bible actually says that the Lord was mindful of Abraham's request to save them by bringing them out of Sodom.
      • The "Hagar and Ishmael" segment got some facts wrong, like when it claimed that Abraham and Sarah named their baby boy Isaac, when the Bible says that only Abraham named him Isaac; it misinterpreted "slave woman" as "slave girl"; it claimed that Sarah said that Ishmael would not "have any of [Abraham's] things" when the Bible actually quotes her in saying, "No son of that slave is going to share the inheritance with my son Isaac"; and that when Hagar ran out of water, she cried, but God showed her a well for Ishmael to drink (translation error; in actuality, when she ran out of water, she left Ishmael in the wilderness, and they both cried, but an angel consoled her and showed her the well for Ishmael to drink water).
      • The "Binding of Isaac" segment claimed that God himself appeared to Abraham, who was about to sacrifice his son Isaac, and told the former to "Put down the knife, for I know you love me most of all" (translation error), when the Bible says that it was actually the messenger of God who told Abraham not to kill Isaac before continuing, "I now know how devoted you are to God since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son."
      • The "Bride for Isaac" segment got some facts wrong: it does not mention the death of Sarah, it misinterprets a nose ring as "golden earring", and it claims that Rebekah's father (Bethuel) "invited [Abraham's] servant in" when it was actually her brother Laban who invited him in.
    • The "Slavery in Egypt" segment of Moses Leads His Peoplenote  (Series 2; 1986) misinterpreted "midwives" as "nurses".
      • The "Burning Bush" segment got some things wrong: it never says that Moses had killed an Egyptian for striking his fellow Hebrew and Pharaoh attempted to kill Moses when he had heard the news; it never mentions that Jethro was also known as Reuel; it claims that Moses asked God "Who are you?" (when he actually answered God's call with "Here I am!"); that Moses says "I can't do that!" when asked to save the Israelites (when he actually asked, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh to lead the Israelites out of Egypt?"); and that when Moses asked "When the people ask who sent me, what will I answer?", God answered, "Tell them the Lord has sent you" (translation error; Moses actually said, "When I go to the Israelites and tell them, 'The Lord has sent me to you,' if they ask me, 'What is his name?', what am I to tell them?", and God replied, "I am who am. This is what you shall tell the Israelites: 'I AM sent me to you'"). It and the other segments also misinterpreted "staff" as "rod".
      • The "Plagues of Egypt" segment claims that Moses told Pharaoh to "let [Moses'] people go" (translation error), when God actually spoke through Moses, saying, "Ley my people go to worship me"; and misinterprets gnats as "lice"; it also never mentions the first Passover or how Moses and his fellow Hebrews started the festival. More on Wikipedia here.
      • The "Exodus from Egypt" segment claims that Moses told the Israelites they would celebrate the Passover "near the end of March" (a translation error and an anachronistic lie), when the Passover is actually said to have been celebrated from the fifteenth day of the first month (Nisan, which is the Hebrew equivalent for between March and April) for seven days; and again, it never mentions how Passover derives its name or how it is celebrated.
      • The "Crossing of the Red Sea" segment claimed that when the Egyptians were pursuing the Israelites in the Red Sea, God "made the wheels fall off" their chariots (translation error) when it actually says in the Bible that God looked through the pillars of fire and cloud in a gaze that threw the Egyptians into a panic and made the chariot wheels get stuck in the mud.
      • The "Bread from Heaven" segmentnote  claimed that the people cried out, "Must we die without water?" (translation error) when they discovered that the water was bitter (they actually said in the Bible, "What are we to drink?"); it misinterpreted a "piece of wood" as "a tree" that would be thrown into the water to sweeten it (another translation error) when the Bible actually said that Moses was shown the aforementioned piece of wood and threw it into the water to freshen it up.
      • The "Water from the Rock" segment misinterprets the word "stone" (as in, "throw stones at") as "kill".
      • The segment of the molten calf keeps misinterpreting "molten calf" as "golden calf". It also claims that after Aaron's confession, God immediately sent a plague on the people as punishment, when the Bible actually says that after Aaron's confession for letting the people run wild, Moses summoned his fellow Levites and ordered them to slaughter their 3,000 idolators (which the segment never told us); and that on the following day, God sent a plague on the remaining idolators as punishment.
      • The "Tabernacle" section claimed that every day God would meet up with Moses in the tabernacle to tell him what to do, which is a translation error and something the Book of Exodus' Chapters 35-40 never say (it also mistakes the "tent of meeting" with "tabernacle", which is also a poor interpretation of Exodus 33). It also claimed that the tabernacle had "seven gold lampstands" (another translation error) when the Bible actually says that it only had one lampstand with seven lamps (or six branches; that segment confuses the Old Testament's "one lampstand" with the New Testament's "seven golden lampstands" and got both Testaments mixed up).
      • The segment of the twelve scouts is totally wrong in order: it claimed that ten of the scouts (which the segment keeps misinterpreting as "spies") told the people not to go to Canaan, and then Joshua and Caleb told the people not to be afraid of the strong people of Canaan before the people cried that night, wanted to go to Egypt, and talked about killing Moses and Aaron (the biggest translation errors of all; the Bible actually says that after the people heard bad reports from the ten scouts, they cried aloud and became angry, and that when Joshua and Caleb told the people not to be afraid, the people ignored their orders and attempted to throw stones at Joshua and Caleb). The segment also claimed that Moses told the people that most of the men and women 21 years or older would die in the desert and not see the Promised Land (when the Bible actually says that only the soldiers among the people would die, except Joshua and Caleb), and also never stated that Joshua was also known as "Hoshea".
    • The "Samuel is Born" segment of Searching for a King (Series 1; 1984) misinterprets "sanctuary" as the "tabernacle" that is "God's house" (translation error); never says that Elkanah gave gifts to Penninah and her children, but gave a double portion to Hannah because he loved her, though the Lord had made her barren; and claims that Hannah told her Elkanah about her ordeal (something the Bible never says); that Eli said to Hannah, "Why do you come to God's house drunk? Stop doing that!" (translation error; he actually said, "How long will you make a drunken show of yourself? Sober up from your wine!"); and that the name "Samuel" means "asked God" (another translation error; the name actually means "The Lord has heard", which the game never mentions in this segment).
      • The "Ark of God Captured by the Philitines" segment claims that the Philistines said, "The Israelite God has come into their camp" (translation error), when they actually said in the Bible, "The gods of Israel have come into their camp"; and that there were mayors in Ekron (something the Bible never says); it also misinterpreted "Dagon" as "Dagon's statue", and "tumors" as "plagues".
      • The "Anointing of David" segment claims that Samuel said, "Eliab is the one," and that God replied, "No he isn't. You must not judge how handsome or tall a man is. I don't care how others think. I look at their heart[s]" (translation errors), when the Bible actually said that when Samuel thought of Eliab, "Surely the Lord's anointed is here before him," the Lord answered, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart"; that Samuel asked Jesse if he has any other sons (translation error; Samuel actually told him, "Are these all the sons you have?"); and that David had "the well-tanned face of an outdoorsman" (another translation error), when he was actually "glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features."
      • The "David and Goliath" segment misspelled "Sokoh" as "Socoh", never mentioned that Goliath was from the land of Gath, and claimed that Goliath was "nine feet tall" (when the Bible said that he was "six cubits tall", meaning that he was close to ten feet tall) and that he said, "If your soldier kills me, you will win the battle. If we kill him, we will win the battle" (translation error), when he actually said in the Bible, "If your soldier kills me, we will be your slaves, but if we kill him, you will be our slaves."
      • The "Saul's Plots to Kill David" segment claims that Saul demoted David to army captain (something the Bible never says), and never mentions that Naioth is in Ramah.
      • The "Saul Is Spared" segment never mentions that it was not the first time that David spared Saul, but rather the second time, nor does it mention that Abner was the son of Ner; and claims that Abishai told David, "Let me kill Saul" (he actually said in the Bible, "Today the Lord has delivered your enemy into your hands; now let me pin him to the ground with one strike of the spear; I will not need a second thrust"); that David told Abishai "No, God chose him to be king. God must take his life some day" (David actually said, "Do not strike him down, for who can lay a hand on the Lord's anointed and be guiltless? As the Lord lives, the Lord will strike him down, or his time will come to die, or he will go into battle and perish"); and that David said, "Wake up, Abner!" (translation error; David actually shouted, "Abner, won't you answer me?").
    • The "Death of Saul" segment of Israel's Golden Years (Series 2; 1986) claims that Saul told his armor-bearer, "Kill me. If you don't, they'll torture me" (translation error; Saul actually said in the Bible, "Run me through with your sword; otherwise these uncircumcised will abuse me"), and that the Philistines "hung Saul's body on the wall of Beth Shan" (when the Bible actually says that they impaled his body on the wall).
      • The "Ark of God Brought to Jerusalem" segment never mentions that Kiriath Jearim was also known as "Baalah", claims that Uzzah suddenly fell down to the ground and died because God was angry with him (when the Bible actually says that God struck him down near the ark of the covenant), and claims that David gave his people only "a loaf of bread" without mentioning that he also gave them some other food like fruit cakes.
      • The "David and Bathsheba" segement got some points wrong: it claims that David met Bathsheba "Late one afternoon" (when it was actually one spring evening); neither mentions that Bathsheba was Eliam's daughter nor mentions that Uriah was a Hittite; never mentions that David invited Uriah to dinner and got him drunk before Uriah did not return home a second time; never mentioned that the army commander's name was Joab; claims that Nathan's parable told of "a rich man who stole a poor man's sheep" (translation error; it is actually said that the rich man slaughtered a poor man's ewe lamb and prepared it for an invited guest); never mentions that after Nathan told David that God would punish him for killing Uriah, David realized that he had sinned against the Lord, and that Nathan told him, "The Lord has taken away your sin; you will not die" before adding that the baby born to David and Bathsheba would die; and claims that the boy was sick for a week immediately after he was born (translation error; the Bible actually says that David and Bathsheba's son was born before Nathan arrived to punish David, and that as soon as Nathan left, God made the boy sick for a week before he died).
      • The "Absalom's Conspiracy" segment claims that Absalom said to the people, "If I were king, I would do more for you" (translation error; he actually said in the Bible, "If only I were appointed judge in the land! Then everyone who has a complaint or case could come to me and I would see that they receive justice."), and never mentions that after Absalom was killed his father David mourned for him.
      • The "Purchase of a Threshing Floor" segment claims that David said to Gad, "We can't be punished by all the men" (translation error; David actually said, "Let us fall by the hands of God, for he is most merciful, but let me not fall by human hands"); misinterprets "plague" as "bad disease"; claims that the angel of death move to Araunah's threshing floor before he tried to destroy Jerusalem and was prevented from doing so (when it was said the angel actually went to the threshing floor after his failed attempt to destroy the land); and never mentions that Araunah was a Jebusite.
      • The "Wise Reign of Solomon" segment never mentions that Solomon never asked for the death of his foes besides wealth and honor, nor does it mention that two women were prostitutes.
      • The "Solomon's Temple" segment misinterprets "a message" as "messengers" and never mentions that the cedar logs are from Lebanon, never mentions that "Huram" was actually "Huram-Abi of Naphtali"; there is a mention of "90 feet long and 30 feet wide", but not 45 feet high; and it never mentions that animal meats that could be washed had been burnt.
      • The "Queen of Sheba" segment never mentions that Solomon's fleet of ships brought him apes and baboons along with gold, silver, and ivory.
      • The "Wives of Solomon" segment never mentions that Solomon had 300 concubines, nor does it mention the name of Milcom, one of the two gods of the Ammonites (also claiming that Milcom and Molech are the same god when they are actually portrayed as having separate places of worship in Jerusalem), nor does it mention that Ahijah the prophet was from Shiloh or that Jereoboam was from Ephraim; claims that God said to Solomon, "I'll take the kingdom away from you and your son when you die, and I will give it to one of your officials" (translation error; the Bible actually says that God would take only a part of Solomon's kingdom, not the entire kingdom itself, and give it to one of the twelve tribes); and it never mentions that Solomon's son was Rehoboam was also the son of Naamah, one of the 700 wives; Ahijah claims that "if Solomon dies, his son will have one of ten tribes" (translation error); it also places 1 Kings 11:5-8 before 11:4.
      • "Rebellion of Israel" claims that Rehoboam wanted ten tribes of the northern tribes to make him king (translation error), and misinterprets "stoned" as "killed" (while the image shows a kid portrayed as Adoniram struck with an arrow when the Bible actually says he was killed by the stones), and there's an apostrophe after "its" twice.
    • The "Annunciation of the Lord" segment of The Boy Jesus (Series 1; 1984) claims that the Virgin Mary was frightened when she saw St. Gabriel the Archangel appearing before her when the Bible actually says that she was troubled at his greeting of "Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you," and pondered what sort of greeting it might be (Luke 1:29).
      • The "Simeon and Anna" segment claimed that Anna's husband died "Eighty-four years ago" when many other Bibles say that his death made her a widow "until she was eighty-four". This and other segments mistranslated "salvation" as "Savior", as well.
    • In A Week That Changed the World (Series 2; 1986), the "Cleansing of the Temple" segment claims that the blind and lame came to Jesus at the temple on the morning after he cleansed it (a translation error). It also claims that Jesus said, "My house is a house of prayer. That's what the Bible says" (another translation error and anachronism) when the Bible actually says that Jesus quoted the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah in driving the moneychangers out of the temple.
      • The segment in which Jesus' authority is questioned has some translation errors, like when it is claimed that Jesus asked the Pharisees, "Who told [St.] John the Baptist to do what he did? God or the people?" when the Bible actually quotes Jesus in saying, "Where was John's baptism from? Was it of heavenly origin or of human origin?"
      • "The Widow's Mite" claims that "mite" is plural for "mitus" (there's no such thing as a mitus, as a "mite" is actually a single coin that is known as a "lepton" or a group of coins known as a "lepta"), and that a mite/coin is "less than a cent" (translation error, the Bible actually says that a mite is worth only a few cents, or lepta).
      • In the "Anointing of Jesus" segment, there is a mention of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus (but with no relation that they are siblings and no mention that Jesus raised him from the dead), and it is claimed that Mary and the woman who anointed Jesus are not the same person when the Bible says otherwise.
    • The "Holy Spirit" segment of The Early Church (Series 1; 1984) misinterpreted "tongues of fire" as "little flames of fire".
      • In the "Stephen Is Stoned" segment, it is claimed that the people "found no wrong in [St.] Stephen", which none of the versions of the Bible say otherwise. The segment also claimed that Stephen prayed and said, "Lord, please let me go to be with you", when the Bible actually quotes him in saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."
      • The "Arrival in Samaria" segment claimed that godly men "risked their lives to bury Stephen" (another translation error) and that Simon the Sorcerer claimed to be "the Messiah, God's Son" when the Bible actually says that he claimed to be "someone great" and was "the 'Power of God' that is called 'Great'" (Acts 8:9-10).
      • The "Philip and the Ethiopian" segment claims that the eunuch (which the game doesn't mention by name, nor is there any mention of the word "eunuch" anywhere) read about sheep being led to the slaughter and lambs before shearers in the book of the Prophet Isaiah when the Bible actually says that the eunuch was reading about a silent man (referring to Jesus) being led to execution.
      • The "Saul Is Converted" segment claims that God appeared to Ananias and sent him to heal Saul when the Bible actually says that it was Jesus, the Son of God, who appeared to Ananias.
      • The "Dorcas" segment mistranslates St. Peter's quote of "Tabitha, rise up" as "'Get up,' Peter told Dorcas."
      • The "Cornelius" segment gets many translation errors, like when St. Peter says, "I now know that god accepts all the men of all nations", when the Bible actually quotes Peter's words as, "I now realize that God shows no partiality but accepts those from every nation who fear him and do what is right."
      • The "Imprisonment of St. Peter" segment claimed that King Herod himself killed St. John's brother, St. James the Great when in actuality it was Herod's guards who did the deed on his orders (it also claimed that Herod single-handedly slaughtered the soldiers who failed to find St. Peter, when in actuality Herod had said soldiers tried and executed by other soldiers). It also mentioned Mary and her son John Mark and Rhoda living in the house, but failed to mention that St. Peter told them to tell St. James the Less and his brothers about his escape.
      • Neither of the Baker Street Kids games reveal Herod as "Herod the Great" (The Boy Jesus), nor did they reveal the other Herod's last name as "Agrippa" (The Early Church).
      • Both The Early Church and Paul's Missionary Journeys misinterpret "kingdom of God" as "Good News about Jesus".
    • The "Paul's Travels" segment of Paul's Missionary Journeys (Series 2; 1986) called the sorcerer "Bar-Jesus", but never called him by his other name of "Elymas"; and also claimed that John Mark "wrote the Gospel of Mark", something the Bible never says. More info is on this link.
      • The "Paul Is Stoned" segment has some errors, like when it claims that Saints Paul and Barnabas tells the pagans in Lystra that they are proclaiming "the Good News about Jesus" when the Bible actually quotes them in saying that they are telling the good news that the pagans should turn away from idols to worship the living God; that some people from Antioch and Iconium spread lies and slander against Paul, making the crowds believe their lies (something the Bible never says); and that "the Christians came to help Paul when he was stoned by the crowds" (another translation error).
      • The other segments of the game called gods and places by Roman names (Mars Hill and Diana) rather than the Greek names many Bibles use (Areopagus and Artemis). They also mistranslated "believers" and "disciples" as "Christians".
      • The "Lydia's Conversion" segment claimed that Lydia asked St. Paul and his companions to baptize her (another translation error) when the Bible actually says that after Lydia and her household were baptized by them, she offered them an invitation to stay at her house.
      • The "Bereans Accept Paul" segment misinterprets "Scriptures" as "Bible". It also claimed that when Paul had been escorted to Athens, he himself told Silas and Timothy to meet him as soon as possible (a translation error), when the Bible actually says that Paul's escorts left him with his instructions for Silas and Timothy to meet him as soon as possible.
      • The "Paul in Rome" segment misinterprets "Malta" as "Melita".

  • 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.
  • Little Nuns: In real life, a woman must be 18 or older before she can take the vows and become a nun. While young girls living with the church (perhaps as orphans) isn't unheard of, they wouldn't wear the habits until they take those vows. Also, nuns don't show hair under their habits, but this is likely to help differentiate the characters (only two of the nuns, the Mother Superior and Star Nun, wear their habits correctly).

    Web Original 
  • Played for Laughs in LagTV's Let's Play of Minecraft, where Jeff (Maximus Black) uses a Black Jesus avatar and makes statements about Christianity that are completely outlandish. This is made even funnier by two facts: Jeff makes mistakes about even the most basic aspects of Christianity that even non-Christians tend to absorb through Pop-Cultural Osmosis, meaning the only possible explanation is willful ignorance, and his partner Adam (NovaWar) actually is religious and calls Jeff out on his mistakes all the time. Such classic examples include calling the Last Supper "the Big Feast" and claiming that the Virgin Mary wasn't a virgin after he met her; when Adam points out that Mary was Jesus' mother, Jeff quickly says "I meant the Virgin Larry", explaining that he Experimented in College. Adam also expresses mild surprise when Jeff manages to recite the prayer "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" correctly.
  • In "10 Scarily Plausible TV Show Theories!" by Matthew Santoro, Matthew mentions the Seven Deadly Sins being from The Bible. Although they are mentioned individually in the Bible, they are never mentioned together as one whole list.
  • Springhole: One article is about tropes inspired by Christianity that aren't in the Bible. This includes Satan ruling Hell, how angels and demons are often visualized, and humans becoming angels after death.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons
    • One episode 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 while in the Land of Nod/Walking the Earth.note  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.
    • Played for Laughs in "The Two Mrs. Nahasapeemapetilons", when, in an attempt to stop his Hindu friend Apu's arranged wedding, Homer, who overheard Apu saying that "only the gods can stop this wedding now", (poorly) dresses up as Ganesha — sorry, "Ganesh", and demands that the wedding be stopped as it angers him, or "All will die". Nobody buys it for a second. Anyone familiar with Hindu mythology would know that Homer got the characterization completely wrong, as Ganesha is usually worshipped as a bringer of fortune and remover of obstacles.
      Wedding guest: You are not Ganesh! Ganesh is graceful! [rolls up his sleeves and chases after Homer, who Screams Like a Little Girl and flees]
    • In another episode, "Lisa the Skeptic", somebody digs up what appears to be the skeleton of a winged human. Immediately nearly everybody in town believes that the skeleton belongs to an angel. 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 lack of faith. Except that, according to Christian tradition, angels do not have physical bodies and cannot die. Plus, their depiction as Winged Humanoids comes from artwork, whereas the Bible describes them shapeshifters looking like anything from utterly inhuman to completely indistinguishable from a regular human - when it describes them at all. Therefore even those who believe in angels, especially the minister and the deeply religious Mr. Flanders, 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 drunken 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. Which is the joke.
    • In the episode "Today I Am A Clown", Krusty is under the impression that not having had a Bar Mitzvah celebration means he is not Jewish. At the age of 13, a Jewish male is expected to have been educated enough to be personally responsible for following the commandments. Whether or not the coming of age is marked by a ceremony makes no difference to the status of being a boy or man, let alone being fully Jewish or not at all.
    • In "Black Eyed, Please", Flanders, a Christian, looks in his Bible and finds multiple inappropriate phrases. The only readable one is Song of Solomon 8:10, which has a specific wording only found in the Complete Jewish Bible.
    • In "Left Behind", Flanders brings up three Bible-related topics to discuss with Homer: Jesus, Ecclesiastes, and baby Jesus. The context and wording of "Wanna talk about Ecclesiastes?" make it sound as though the writers thought this was a name of a character.
    • In "Bart's Girlfriend," the Sunday school students examine a replica of the slingshot David used to kill Goliath. David used a sling, a completely different weapon. Likely justified by Rule of Funny — Bart is already familiar with slingshots and is tempted to shoot the teacher in the butt with it when she turns around; the setup wouldn't work if she'd given them an ancient-style sling.
  • 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.
    • It's 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 whole episode falls in this category (seriously you can have a drinking game with the number of examples this one episode provides). For example, why would the weapons that are 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 (while it's true that most people don't know this, but one would assume that the Antichrist of all people would know). In fact, an inverted cross is the symbol of the pope, after the legend in which St. Peter (traditionally viewed as the first pope) was crucified upside down so his death would not resemble Christ's (though to be fair, a mainstream Christian belief about the occult is that any corruption of a symbol is occultic, hence why simply putting a circle around the Star of David makes it evil, as it is a corruption of the original intent, according to this belief. Things like Black Sabbaths and reversed citations of the Lord's Prayer are such corruptions). It even appears on the Papal throne. It's even been taken by anti-Catholic Christians to be a sign that the Pope is the Antichrist, making this doubly ironic. This also raises the question of why would the Vatican even care if a Protestant (a person from a completely different branch of Christianity) is banned from there.
  • South Park
    • Played for laughs in the "Jewbilee" episode. 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 basically 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" 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.note  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.
    • At the end of the "Cartoon Wars" arc, the Muslim terrorists produce their own animated film to get back at the Family Guy episode. The film depicts Jesus, along with many Americans crapping incessantly on each other. In reality, Muslims have no contempt for Jesus. In fact, Jesus is known as one of the most important prophets, second only to Muhammed, just not the savior. Of course, they could just be making fun of Americans' worship of him.
  • Family Guy
    • Peter's father Francis, a devout Catholic, backhandedly compliments Peter's (Protestant) wife Lois by telling her "Maybe you won't go to hell; maybe you'll just go to purgatory with all the unbaptized babies!" Francis should certainly be aware, but purgatory is a temporary place of purification for those who are destined for heaven but still need to undergo punishment for sins committed in life. Limbo is supposedly a permanent residence for those who cannot enter heaven and do not deserve hell, i.e. unbaptized infants and righteous people who died before Jesus. Also, purgatory is an established Church doctrine, but limbo is not (though a good number of Catholics do believe in it.)
    • Peter's entire conception of the Jewish religion in the "When You Wish Upon a Weinstein" episode revolves around stereotypes about their skill with money and mathematics. Apparently, their justification was that much of what Peter knows about his own Catholic faith is stereotypes.
    • The writers are obviously pretty big fans of Rule of Funny, 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).
    • Intentionally used for a Take That! in the episode "Friends of Peter G.": Brian makes a passing comment about how people "were fine for thousands of years without religion," leading to a Cutaway Gag with a few peaceful BC-era characters suddenly begin killing each other at the announcement of Jesus' birth. One doesn't need to do much research to understand why that one's 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". This is wrong on two counts. First, the Dark Ages is just a general term for the time between the fall of the Roman Empires and the Late Middle Ages, not a period of religiously-motivated intellectual stagnation (indeed most historians have stopped calling it "The Dark Ages" for exactly that reason). Second, most of the progress made in science and philosophy during that time period in the Christian world was made by clerics of the Catholic or Orthodox Churches, often because only they had the technical expertise and money to create new books. Saying that the world would have made 1000 years' progress in technology is a silly statement to make anyway, which may well have been the intention.
    • Taken one step further for a joke about how, without Christianity, Michelangelo Buonarroti's inspired paintings of the Sistine Chapel would be replaced by the art of John Hinckley. How did no one realize that the Sistine Chapel is a Christian church? Never mind that Michelangelo based many of his figures on ancient Greek carvings.
    • Every depiction of The Pope in the show is a pudgy man with a strong Italian accent. There have been three popes since the show began, and not a single one of them has been Italian. This one can probably be chalked up to a stereotype since the then-current Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope elected in nearly five centuries.
  • Done satirically in The Boondocks. Uber-naïve Jasmine DuBois not only believes that Christmas is a celebration of Santa Claus, but that he is the central figure that all of Christianity revolves around.
  • The Real Ghostbusters: The ghost of Halloween, Samhain, has his name pronounced "Sam-hain" rather than the proper Gaelic pronunciation "Sah-wain" (just as occurred in Supernatural, as mentioned above) and in fact has nothing in common with the original pagan holiday other than, perhaps, the death of the year. This may be a case of Sadly Mythtaken (i.e. a pagan holiday being demonized for a Christian audience) except that the imagery (jack-o'-lantern head) and overall personality (Dark Is Evil) have more in common with the modern-day conception of Halloween as a dark, scary, sinister holiday (when it isn't all about parties and candy) than its Celtic roots. So the mispronunciation and lack of connection to the original holiday may be intentional--because this is the ghost of what people have come to associate with Halloween, rather than its original meaning.
  • Seen in Class of the Titans when the ancient Greek gods help the seven human heroes celebrate Christmas.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Artistic Licence Religion


Children of The Big Three

As Percy Jackson Film implies that children of The Big Three are rare, Krimson Rogue shows that Hollywood didn't seem to remember that The ruler of Mount Olympus was a God that had fathered too many children among both Gods, Mortals, and Monsters alike.

How well does it match the trope?

4.56 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / ArtisticLicenseReligion

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