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"...after the blessing we talked for a while about how to work with some of the laws that are hard to keep if you're not human. Like I can't totally shut off my power on Shabbas y'know? He says my case ain't too bad, he knows this oyster kibbutz up the coast and them bastards got problems."
— The Character Blog of Nick Zerhakker, sapient Jewish helicopter from Skin Horse

The tenets of a real-world religion can interact... oddly with fantasy or futuristic settings.

In the simplest form of this trope, the setting makes religiously forbidden things harder to avoid, or mandatory things harder to do. Maybe it's impossible for Jewish vampires to keep kosher without starving.note  A group of Muslims on a Generation Ship is likely to have trouble making a pilgrimage to Mecca.note  (It's also possible in principle for a setting to make religion easier,note  but that's less likely to happen as it fails to follow the Rule of Drama, although it might be used for world-building or a one-off gagnote .)

There can also be interactions between religion and fantasy that are more complex. The discovery of fantastic elements can lead to crises of faith (or it may not, for no apparent reason), or conversely make the elements of that faith more relevant.note  And that's not even getting into the situations where the approach to the religion is part of what makes the setting fantastical...

This can be Truth in Television. Conferences of real Muslims have grappled with the question of how to pray toward Mecca five times a day while orbiting the Earth every 90 minutes. And just how do you determine when Shabbat begins and ends in places that experience polar night and midnight sun? For that matter, can the faithful be expected to fast from sunup to sundown in such locations?note  Do particular transgenic foods meet Islam's dietary laws? And now that lab-grown meat is just over the horizon, would a beef burger grown in a petri dish be kosher (which demands meat be slaughtered a particular way)? Or acceptable to Hindus (who don't eat beef)? Or Jains (who regard slaughtering animals as always wrong)?

Interestingly, in post-communist Poland, exploration of this sort of thing has developed into a real SF genre, called clerical fiction.

Overlaps with Religious Vampire and Religious Robot.

Sister Trope to Fantastic Legal Weirdness, where speculative fiction elements interact strangely with the legal system.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Ayakashi Triangle has a scene similar to The Mummy where Yayo tries to exorcise a spirit possessing her with symbols from multiple different religions (a cross, a Shinto charm, and Buddhist prayer beads plus a recording of a sutra), as well as garlic and salt. They have no effect whatsoever; ayakashi are affected by belief, but either one person's wasn't enough, or Yayo herself was insufficiently faithful.
  • Rory Mercury provokes a lot of religious debate in Gate. As a bona fide living demigoddess whose deity is capable of outright miracles, the question becomes where are the Apostles of all Terran religions?

    Comic Books 
  • The graphic novel Creature Tech has its skeptical scientist end up on an alien world at one point... only to find an alien Jesus being crucified. Naturally, if Jesus were real and divine, there's no way he would've died to save just one species.
  • In Grandville, the inhabitants of a World of Funny Animals are Christian, but a version of Christianity that starts with the Flood, and presents Noah as God, releasing the animals onto Earth. It is also a matter of considerable debate what species Jesus was because the Church is suppressing the evidence that claims he was a member of the human underclass.
  • In an issue of the DC Comics mini-series Infinite Crisis, all the Christian heroes hold Mass in a church. Naturally, the Celebrant is the exiled angel Zauriel. One person queries why Blue Devil stands there in flames. Well, he's a good Catholic boy. He's also a Devil standing on sacred ground.
  • In the alternate universe of Marvel 1602, it's even weirder: Thor's human incarnation Donal is a member of The Knights Templar, and has to deal with the fact that his own existence contradicts his faith.
  • In the Marvel Universe, vampires are vulnerable to the symbols of all faiths — so long as the bearer of the symbol's faith is strong. Dracula himself was once burned by a faithful Jew's Magen David medallion.note  Another time, a vampire mook was instakilled by Thor's hammer. (He's a god, remember?)
  • The Mighty Thor: In one issue, Thor saves the life of a Christian priest and assures him that although he (Thor) is real, so is a god superior to Thor whom the Thunder God explicitly identifies as the Christian God. (It's never made clear which sect the priest is, nor is the question of Jesus addressed.)
  • Y: The Last Man: With the Gendercide of nearly every male mammal on the planet, the Catholic Church (now consisting mostly of nuns) is trying to change the canon law so that women can be priests. However, only the pope can make a ruling to that effect, and since none of the surviving males were ordained (or even Catholic), they decide that a male born from a virgin is the only one who can fulfill this role. This leads to them trying to kidnap Beth II, not knowing that her pregnancy is from having sex with Yorick. And it's a moot point when she gives birth to a girl.

    Fan Works 
  • Mass Effect fanfiction/Alternate History timeline On the Shoulders of Giants has avoided this issue thus far, but one of the setting's sapient A.I.s apparently gave the religious leaders of the world something to think about when it asked "what exactly is a soul, and what is it good for?" As of the latest update, they're apparently still trying to figure out how to answer that. At any rate, the official line is that yes, A.I.s do have souls, and at least one has chosen to become a rabbi.
  • In Dæmorphing, Loren wonders if Jesus died for the sins of all sapient beings, not just humans. There are also several religious rituals related to daemons; Christians believe that they're closer to God, while Jews self-mutilate theirs at funerals (similar to ripping garments in real life).
  • Bait and Switch (STO):
    • In "Solaere ssiun Hnaifv'daenn", when Commander Jaleh Khoroushi, an Iranian-born Shi'a Muslim, does her five daily prayers, she asks the ship's computer to point her at the Sol system. Also, following various Real Life fatwas, she requests an injected vaccine rather than an oral one to avoid breaking her Ramadan fast. The author's notes also theorize that, food replicators being a relatively recent invention (they weren't around in TOS), there still might be debate over whether replicated food is halalnote , although Jaleh's already been established as willing to ignore Islamic dietary rules on deployment out of practicality. The later story "Mhirrafv Terrhai" also says that Jaleh times her daily prayers and Ramadan fast by ship time (she's briefly confused when she goes home to visit family and the local cleric sings the call to prayer at what is for her the "wrong" time).
    • The Wrong Reflection: USS Bajor carries a Bajoran chapel and a chaplain (a Bajoran monk contracted with Starfleet) due to the crew's unusually high percentage of Bajorans. Most Starfleet ships have neither, whereas another story has a brief mention of the Bajoran Militia having traditional uniformed chaplains.
    • Various other stories mention new denominations such as Reform Baptist, and paganism has apparently made enough of a resurgence for a recurring character's mother to have been raised Norse.
  • Related to the above, one STO Roleplayer plays a devout Muslim Captain. Being a former science officer, he created a holodeck program that calculates the location of Mecca in relation to the ship's present location. He also mentions that there are special service markers that discourage his deployment to missions where diplomacy with Klingon diplomacy is reasonably likely to occur as Targ, Ghak, and Bloodwine are all not halal. The character model also wears the standard Captain Uniform with the only deviation is that the pips are silver and not gold (gold is seen as being a feminine color in Arabic cultures, though his uniform is still red despite a similar problem, implying that the said Captain was more making a personal choice and wasn't going to press for an accommodation).
  • Earth's Alien History has numerous examples of the intermingling of a great many different species causing alterations and changes in preexisting religions:
    • Surakan Buddhism is, as the name suggests, a philosophical school that bridges elements from Buddhist and Vulcan teachings.
    • The Church of the Divine Image is a Christian offshoot that believes God's salvation of humanity also applies to aliens — but only Human Aliens or, at a stretch, Humanoid ones, since they're the only ones made in God's image.
    • Certain aspects of the Race's culture expand their worship of their Emperor (and past Emperors) to include veneration of certain important other figures from their history, who are granted the saint-like title of "Most Loyal."
    • By the 23rd century, the most popular religion in TeTO space are the Church of the Cosmic Spirit, a dualistic faith that believes in a Spirit of Light responsible for all good in the universe, and an opposing Spirit of Darkness responsible for all evil, with major important and influential historical figures of all species believed to be avatars of one or the other. Reincarnation is also a major aspect as well.
    • Mormonism becomes the largest Christian denomination after the chaos of the 20th century causes Catholicism to collapse and people turn to the LDS Church due to Salt Lake City being the only Christian religious center that doesn't get damaged by any of the alien invasions. It also does surprisingly well for itself among other species, being shown to be quite popular with the Race, quarians, and asari, among others. Though they do have to make adjustments to the faith depending on the quirks of other species' values and biologies — for example, as the LDS Church prohibits same-sex marriages, and asari are all physically female (and the Church doesn't want to forbid asari members from marrying in their own species), asari converts have to declare themselves "officially" male or female so that their marriages aren't technically same-sex.
    • Cosmism eventually fully replaces traditional religion in the USSR and other communist states (and becomes popular with post-Praxis Klingons), evolving into a form that states that people should strive to become Sufficiently Advanced Aliens like others present in this universe.
    • The Gemini worship Xerneas, and the other Legendary Pokemon by extension, due to Xerneas' Heroic Sacrifice creating them from the Turian/Krogan hybrid Brute husks created by the Reapers. One Gemini, Emile, is shown at one point getting into a brief religious debate with Dr. McCoy (here a devout Mormon) over the logic of worshipping an abstract being when Physical Gods are present.
  • Goldstein is a Harry Potter fanfic where minor character Anthony Goldstein is an Orthodox Jewish Muggle-born, and explores how that would work. Chapter two is basically just the family's rabbi examining all the arguments for or against him going to Hogwarts at all. (Conclusion: Since suppressing magic could make him a Person of Mass Destruction, attending is required under the principle that protecting lives overrides most commandments.)
  • In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf series, Tapper is a Christian Smurf who believes that Jesus' death on the cross was not just for God redeeming humans from the power of sin, but also for God redeeming all of His creation, including Smurfs. In "Flowerbell's Love Triangle", he is seen praying for Papa Smurf's soul in regard to the corrupting influence of magic, as Papa Smurf is the village's resident sorcerer. Although in "Smurphony Of The Night", Empath's use of a Smurf head symbol for a religious symbol helps him fend off a Smurf vampire who wants to make Smurfette his vampiress bride.
  • In The Second Archon War, the Archons being isekai'd on Earth-Bet and openly identifying as gods cause a great deal of reactions — the Catholic pope swiftly condemns Raiden Ei as the Antichrist while the Japanese people insist to worship her as an avatar of Amaterasu or the Spirit of their country embodied in a very pleasant female package, while the Jewish Naomi Cohen concludes her friend Venti better fits the criteria for an angel and he actively encourages her since he dislikes being worshipped.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In the French comedy Dracula And Son (Dracula père et fils), a crossed hammer and sickle deter vampires just as well as a crucifix. But the former are easier to find in socialist Romania.
  • Another Dracula parody, The Fearless Vampire Killers, has Shagal, a Jewish vampire who's immune to crucifixes.
  • Filipino horror and fantasy movies tend to reflect the local manifestations of Catholicism, including Christianized animism. The Killing of Satan on the other hand runs away with Red Tuxedo Satan and his gang of flamboyant sorcerers.
  • The Dracula-parody film Love at First Bite has a scene where a Magen David proves to have no effect on Dracula. Amusingly, the guy wielding the Magen David only has it because he's a psychiatrist who adopted a Jewish name "for professional reasons."
  • In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Norse pantheon is real, resulting in some weirdness. Captain America states that Thor doesn't mean anything to him because "there's only one god, and I'm pretty sure he doesn't dress like that." New York has at least one church that worships the Norse Gods, as seen in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
  • In The Mummy (1999), Beni, when confronted by the newly resurrected Imhotep, pulls out several holy symbols that he apparently wears on a chain around his neck — on the eminently practical grounds that one of them has to work — displaying each and saying a prayer in the appropriate language to try to ward him off. First, he pulls out a crucifix, then a Crescent, then a taijitu, and finally, a Star of David. Only the Star of David and a Hebrew prayer averts Beni's imminent demise — but only because Imhotep recognizes Hebrew as "the language of the slaves", and thinks Beni will be useful as a translator.
  • Interestingly, Islam in the "Riddickverse" seems to have adapted fairly well to interstellar colonization. Hajj is made to the planet New Mecca, and when pilgrims pray, they face straight up, toward the stars.
  • And then there's the Mexican Santa Claus (1959), in which Santa is a demon-battling alien who lives with Merlin and Hephaestus/Vulcan, and actually mentions Jesus Christ.

  • 1632: Pope Urban VIII has to decide whether papal infallibility still applies when the pope in question will now never be born. Short answer: No. Slightly longer answer: No, but that doesn't mean their opinions should be disregarded altogether.
  • Charles Stross deals with future changes to Muslim practices in Accelerando. One of the protagonists emancipates herself at the age of twelve via a complicated scheme that involves the relationship between shari'a and modern corporate law — she essentially sells herself into slavery to a computer-run company operated by a blind trust of which she is the sole owner. Her mother attempts to regain guardianship over her, in part by converting to Islam.
  • The Apocalypse Door has Peter Crossman, an ex-CIA commando-turned-Catholic special operations priest (a Knight Templar who is not, ironically enough, a Knight Templar), ambushed in a bar by a car-stealing, sexy redheaded "fun nun with the gun" who forces him to both break his cover and do nothing to defend himself by approaching him for confession. He later attempts to administer the Last Ritesnote  to a dead body, only to discover that the entire front half of its head has been sliced off. He anoints the side of his head on the temporal bone, "that being the nearest spot that remained," and the voice box in lieu of his lips, and just has to skip the eyes altogether. Later, while waiting in a bar to meet a contact, he realizes that he hasn't celebrated Mass that day, so he orders a glass of wine and takes a bowl of oyster crackers.
  • Given the subjects of Arthurian legends, where Saints, Paladins, and some Biblical figures (namely Jesus and Joseph of Arimathea) rub elbows with The Fair Folk, wizards, and, in some cases, even pagan deities (e.g. Affalach and his daughter the goddess Modron), works of Arthurian literature tend to play with this. Two of the most notable works that touch on this are Merlin by Robert de Boron and Vita di Merlino. In the first detailing Merlin's birth, notes that he was born of a human woman raped by a demon (who may or may not be Satan himself), who intended the child to become the Antichrist. However, the woman had the child exorcised and baptized by a priest to undo the demonic influence on Merlin. He kept his magical abilities, thus making him unique as a son of Satan who uses his powers to help people (Does this sound familiar?). Vita di Merlino includes a story in which the wizard is brought before the Pope to be tried for heresy in which Merlin is exonerated. The latter is particularly unique given the debates as to whether to allow for "Natural Magic" (what is today called Science) as an exception in the prohibition of witchcraft that occurred during the medieval era.
  • In Kameron Hurley's Bel Dame Apocrypha a Space Diaspora that took place so long ago that the existence of Earth has apparently been forgotten has wrought huge changes on Islam, the dominant religion of the planet it takes place on. There is of course no Mecca or apparently even any memory of it. The least changed faction has added a sixth prayer time but the really changed culture is that of the nation of Nasheen which is an Islamic matriarchy.
  • In Blood and Iron by Elizabeth Bear, fae who existed before the coming of Christ are not bound by Christian tradition, while those born afterward are (and thus, for example, reflexively flinch whenever the name of God is spoken).
  • In James Blish's classic A Case Of Conscience, the Jesuit protagonist concludes that a race of reptilians leading apparently Edenic lives are of Satanic origin, since they have no concept of God and thus "prove" by their existence that He is unnecessary.
  • In Castle Federation, there is a planet which evolved a sect of Christianity in which women chose their husband as their God-given right and that choice is formalized by the woman having sex with the man. It causes some problems when it clashes with more liberated mindsets.
  • Touched upon in the short story "Changes" by Neil Gaiman (from the Smoke and Mirrors anthology) in which a drug intended for cancer treatment has an unexpected side effect... nigh-instantaneous and completely reversible gender realignment. It's briefly mentioned that the major religions of the world are noted as being about evenly split on whether such a drug is acceptable for treating cancer, though their position on its use as a cure for Gender Identity Disorder goes unrecorded. Then people start using it recreationally...
  • C. S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia basically takes the idea that, in a fairy-tale style world where Talking Animals are the majority, Jesus would come in the form of an animal (in this case, a lion named Aslan) instead of a human. (Though in this case, he doesn't seem to have been born of a lioness — we see him create the world in The Magician's Nephew.) At one point we have a horse argue that someone as good as Aslan can't really be a lion, that that's just a metaphor, only for Aslan to show up and gently tease him.
  • In the CoDominium series, every Imam has also become an amateur astronomer, since they have to locate Sol to find Mecca to pray toward. This is a nod to real history, as it's speculated that the difficulty of finding Mecca was a major factor in the Muslim world's innovations in astronomy, mathematics, etc.
  • In The Cold Moons, the badgers have an Animal Religion that takes influence from Abrahamic religions. They seemingly understand the story of Adam and Eve as it's mentioned that God (called "Logos") cursed earth due to man's disobedience, but how this all relates to badgers is unspecified. Badgers believe that all animals (including humans) have souls and that they'll all live together peacefully in Asgard when they die.
  • A plot element in the SF short story "The Dead Man's Coffee" by John Possidente is a dispute within a Muslim-dominated space colony over whether humans genetically engineered to be capable of photosynthesis are allowed to do so during Ramadan.
  • Stephen Dedman
    • "Transit" concerns a group of Muslims from an off-world colony traveling to Earth on hajj. The setting has regular interstellar travel, but places are strictly limited and considerably smaller than the waiting list; there's a lottery to allocate places, but it's implied that the results are not entirely impartial.
    • "From Whom All Blessings Flow" has several Alternate Histories arguing over which of them has the one true version of Christianity.
  • In Katherine Kurtz's Deryni novels, the very existence of Deryni complicates religious questions.
    • Deryni celebrants of the Sacraments can sense the psychic energies and emotions of participants (especially during key points of the Eucharist and the bestowing of Holy Orders). Does that make them higher than other humans on the Great Chain of Being? Were the Deryni persecutions a matter of jealousy as well as fear? (Supported by Word of God.)
    • Some few Deryni can heal just as Christ is depicted doing in the New Testament. How does that undercut the rationale (such as it is) for persecuting Deryni? Was Christ Deryni?
    • Was Camber really a saint? Perhaps a guardian angel? Did he choose to become a saint or an angel in the afterlife? Did his powers and his arcane knowledge permit him to choose that destiny for himself?
  • In the Discworld novels, there are several off-hand remarks about vampires working at kosher slaughterhouses. Which is strange because there isn't an actual Judaism in that world. Presumably, there is a religion that has a similar edict about the consumption of blood (Omnianism probably, given that that religion stands in for Abrahamic religions in general).
  • The Dresden Files: Various supernatural characters refer to the Abrahamic God as "the White God", and the series derives some amusing moments from the backgrounds of the Knights of the Cross, a trio of Paladins in all but name who wield swords forged with nails from the Crucifixion laid into the hilt. Michael Carpenter is Catholic but Sanya is agnostic, and Waldo Butters is Jewish. (This is largely explained by the Knights being more a matter of good intent than of a specific faith.) See also comments from a local Catholic priest about Harry, whose faith is in magic itself rather than any deity, needing holy water by the gallon for some incidents.
    • It's also stated that any symbol of faith can repel a vampire — Harry himself uses his pentacle since that's a symbol of his faith in magic.
  • The Fremen in Dune are the descendants of Muslims who were relocated, apparently forcibly, to alien planets. Ten thousand years later, they are still bitter about being denied the Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). Chapterhouse: Dune then goes on to reveal that Judaism is still alive and kicking after 25,000 years, and introduces the reader to at least one group of Jews that's had to make only minor accommodations to their faith. This is in contrast to just about every other Dune religion, which are all mishmashes of other ones (Buddislam, Navachristianity, etc.) because Jews are just that cool.
  • Eifelheim by Michael Flynn explores how late medieval Catholics deal with insectoid aliens who crash-land near their small German village. He cites theologians such as Augustine saying mythic creatures like dog-headed men, if they existed, would have souls and be capable of receiving baptism to argue it wouldn't be something they couldn't handle. After determining that the aliens are rational, the priest engages in debate with them about religion and other things. Some of the aliens end up converting.
  • In Poul Anderson's "Elementary Mistake", a space probe captain feels like praying, "but Mecca was probably in a ridiculous direction."
  • In Everworld, the main characters are Trapped in Another World where All Myths Are True. April is a devout Catholic who at one point insists that the "gods" around her don't deserve that title, though she does have some internal struggles at times. Jalil, meanwhile, is an atheist determined to figure out how all this supernatural nonsense actually works.
  • Fools War by Sarah Zettel is a Space Opera where most of the main characters are Muslim. This leads to them asking each other questions like "Which way is Mecca today?" whenever they're on their spaceship and need to pray.
  • The inhabitants of the Colony, the national-level Worthy Opponent in The General Series, are Muslims. They dealt with the Mecca problem by bringing a fragment of the Kaaba with them (Mecca itself was apparently destroyed in a war just before they left) and substituting their original landing site for prayer and pilgrimage purposes. Of course the whole point of this is just to keep the 'Fifth-Century Byzantium IN SPACE!!!' setting as much as possible, so it's brushed over pretty quickly.
  • The Harry Potter novels never really address religious issues directly (despite a lot of Christian subtext in the last book), but for what it's worth, Word of God says that she imagines that Hogwarts has hosted students of just about every religion except Wicca, simply because that idea of magic(k) is so different from the series'.
  • The High Crusade:
    • Since the protagonists are transplanted Medieval English Catholics, they must adopt their religion somewhat after colonizing far-off planets and ruling other species that are new to them. For instance, there's debate over whether having sex with a female of another species is bestiality per the Biblical law. They also convert many members of other species, with some even becoming bishops, and have their own "Popelet", while making clear this is merely a stand-in for the real Pope, whom they still owe allegiance to. Plus they have difficulty in regards to keeping religious holidays:
    "I presume you had a haunch of beef to break your fast," I said. "Are you sure it is not Friday? ... When is it Sunday?" I cried. "Will you tell me the date of Advent? How shall we observe Lent and Easter, with two moons morris-dancing about to confuse the issue?"
    • This being a cheerful(ly whacked) work, they quote Jesus's words that the Sabbath was made for men and not the other way around, cheer up, and decide that they'll work it out.
  • His Dark Materials and its prequel series The Book of Dust feature Christianity through a vast Multiverse and how it adapts to world-specific circumstances. For example, in Lyra's world people's souls manifest outwards as animal spirits called daemons. The church decides to cut children's daemons out, leaving them mindless husks.
  • Honor Harrington: Flag in Exile mentions that the Manticoran military doesn't have a Chaplains' Corps because of the sheer diversity of belief systems. Manticoran warships do have nondenominational chapels aboard but any services are done by lay leaders. This is contrasted with the Grayson Space Navy: the Graysons are mostly members of a Christian offshoot sect called the Church of Humanity Unchained (akin to fundamentalist Mormons with bits of conservative Islam for flavor) and their ships do carry chaplains. When women were allowed to enlist in the GSN due to manpower needs after Grayson allied with Manticore, they were only allowed to serve on the biggest ships because only superdreadnoughts had room for separate men's and women's quarters.
  • Harlan Ellison's story Im Looking For Kadak describes the problem of finding a tenth man to make up a sufficient number for a Jewish service — especially being a blue, eleven-armed inhabitant of the asteroid Zsouchmuhn — "Ha! I'm a Jew."
  • At the end of Dani and Eytan Kollin's Incorporated World series, a rabbi has to deal with the problem of an avatar (an Artificial Intelligence) wanting to convert. It only gets more complicated when humans and avatars start wanting to get married.
  • Jill Kismet: Jill is Catholic, but as a hunter, she is barred from Confession and Communion for trafficking with the supernatural and the sin of murder repeated every night. By special dispensation, she can still be buried in consecrated ground, however (assuming there's enough of her left to bury). Church tradition also holds that hunters cannot go to heaven for the same reason, but given that her deceased mentor Mikhail appears as an angel warrior at the climax of Angel Town, the dogma can be assumed to be wrong.
  • In Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell the existence of angels, demons, and fairies (not to mention heaven, hell, and faerie) are all apparently well-established historical facts, although only fairies are shown to definitely exist. The book's footnotes allude to religion's reaction to this alternate history:
    • Fairies are often forcibly baptised into the church, despite their lack of understanding of Christianity. Indeed they seem to struggle with the idea that not all humans are Christians. Fairies particularly like and respect saints, who they regard as great magical beings who can be invoked for greater power.
    • In the Middle Ages there was a debate over whether fairies can achieve salvation through Christ. One group believed that for every human who failed to achieve salvation, a place was available for a fairy to redeem itself.
    • Magicians and priests were considered to be rivals of sorts, as both built their profession upon communing with other worlds and powers. This rivalry was largely peaceful, although the church viciously persecuted one heretic who suggested that if a fairy resurrected a human then the latter's soul and existence was now owed to the fairy rather than God.
  • Almost the entire Kitty Norville series is about the mundane consequences of vampirism and lycanthropy, so this naturally comes up at least a bit. One particularly memorable scene in Kitty and the Midnight Hour has a vampire calling into a talk show for religious advice; apparently devout Catholicism and bursting into flame upon entering holy ground make a bad combination. Kitty's advice to him is to read Paradise Lost: she argues that Satan's real sin in that book wasn't the rebellion itself, but afterward when he came to believe that his rebellion put him beyond forgiveness forever. Likewise, supposedly, being a vampire might make existence especially inconvenient for a Catholic, but it doesn't have to mean damnation unless he gives up. Heartwarming.
  • Inverted by a heretical Kzinti sect from Larry Niven's Known Space books: traumatized by how their Proud Warrior Race keeps getting its ass kicked by Puny Humans, they've concluded that God is human and on our side. They dress like humans (complete with masks of human skin) in the hope of deceiving our terrifying patron deity long enough to secure some blessings on their race.
  • In John Ringo's Legacy of the Aldenata, the wiping out of 5/6 of humanity leads the Roman Catholic Church not only to allow priests and nuns to marry but to allow polygamy. One of the later books, The Tuloriad, expands upon this when the Pope decides to send a diplomatic mission to a (supposedly) friendly Posleen separatist group led by former Big Bad Tulo'stenaloor, and on the way, the various religious leaders debate how best to offer their faiths to a Horde of Alien Locusts that Earth is justifiably peeved at (the Jews refuse to send a delegation at all, fearing that if word gets out of a Jewish Posleen Jews would get blamed for the whole invasion by antisemitic groups).
  • In the Leviathan series, it is implied that the Catholic Church has an issue with the genetically engineered beasties that are used by the allied powers.
  • In The Lost Regiment series, the people of Rus on planet Valennia are descendants of Medieval Russians who were taken by a Tunnel of Light and settled a number of cities on their new world. While they retain many tenets of Orthodox Christianity, such as making the sign of the cross (in the opposite fashion of the Catholics), over 1000 years, the name Jesus has morphed into Kesus. Additionally, they never say "God" or "Lord", and Kesus's father is stated to be Pern, a mangling of Perun, the chief deity of the Old Slavic Pantheon (pre-conversion to Christianity). So any phrase you'd expect to hear "God" in, they may substitute "Pern" for that.
  • In Metro 2033, the question of "what does Jehovah say on the issue of headless mutants" is used as an Armor-Piercing Question against an obnoxious Jehovah's Witness.
  • In F. Paul Wilson's story (later blown up into a novel) Midnight Mass, it turns out crosses — and only crosses — have power over vampires. The Jewish communities (and presumably other non-Christians, though we only know of this through a Jewish character) are completely overrun.
  • In Peter F. Hamilton's sci-fi The Night's Dawn Trilogy:
    • The souls of the dead come back to possess people. It's a normal part of life (well...death) that any advanced culture has to deal with to grow. One of the first people to be possessed is exorcised by a priest, thus leading you to think it's the usual demonic possession thing, except it turns out it only worked because the possessor was Catholic. It doesn't work if the soul doesn't believe in it.
    • The main villain is possessed, but is so evil he in fact steals the abilities of the non-evil possessor while keeping it imprisoned in his mind. He goes on a campaign of galactic destruction thinking he is doing the bidding of the Lightbringer (Satan).
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Everything from Greek mythology exists and has been transplanted into the Western world. Chiron gives something of a throwaway line suggesting that the Big-G God may exist beyond the Olympians, but we're basically told not to worry about it too much. Later, a corrupt preacher in the Underworld is implied to be unable to see the place as it really is.
    • The Sequel Series features characters who practice voodoo and Native American spirituality and goes into some depth on how they reconcile this with Greek myths—-essentially, All Myths Are True means that Apollo's chariot and Chinese sun dragons both fly around up in the sky (and almost crashed once), while it's also true that the sun is a big ball of gas that the Earth goes around.
    • Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard has Sam(ira), a daughter of Loki who was raised Muslim and then got chosen to become a Valkyrie. As far as she's concerned, the Norse gods are basically Sufficiently Advanced Aliens who are nothing compared to Allah. Heimdall implies that she may be correct. Meanwhile, Magnus is an atheist, and sees the existence of multiple pantheons as evidence that there is no "higher plan."
    • It's also mentioned that Thor once challenged Jesus to a fight, though the latter (unsurprisingly) never showed up. (This is actually an old Norse claim, presumably made up to make Christianity sound cowardly.)
  • The aforementioned Polish trend is generally based on Christianity, more specifically Catholicism, as Poland is a majority-Catholic nation. (That this trend exists is probably some sort of mix of this in general, the cross-pollination between the litterati and the Catholic intellectual circles, and the fact that such topics were no longer unwelcome after the fall of communism.) Here are some examples:
    • In Rafał Dębski's Zoroaster, humanity had spread to the stars and as a result, the Inquisition had to be recreated, because far from Earth and Vatican, there were literally thousands of people declaring themselves the Christ come again and someone had to go around and either debunk or confirm them. No confirmation ever happened and by the time of the story, the trend is long past.
    • The works of Jacek Dukaj include aliens spreading the Gospel on their own and leaving human Christians to wonder if they're just the space-age Jew-equivalent in God's plan, the Gospel spreading to the AI as a result of a mad millionaire trying to record a genuine divine revelation, alternate universes where the Christ never died, and so on.
    • Wojciech Szyda is another specialist in the genre. Probably the strictest example of this trope in his portfolio is a short story about a starship pilot tasked as an operator of a touring confession booth, who discovers a clone of Jesus on an abandoned space station.
    • Stanisław Lem, who predates the above writers by a generation, has also dabbled in the genre. A non-comedic example would be a story of religious robots, who have in their possession an absolute, undeniable proof of God's existence. But since the local organics can reprogram the robots, they choose not to enter the contest, and instead of reprogramming and being reprogrammed ad infinitum, hide away.
  • In Red Planet Blues by Robert J. Sawyer, the invention of Brain Uploading caused most people to give up a belief in the soul, since now they can attain functional immortality by technological means, though a few still believe in it, rejecting the idea since they feel their souls will be lost in the process.
  • Rogue Emperor by Crawford Kilian features a modern-day sect of religious fundamentalists who take over an alternate Rome at around 100 AD. Being both anti-semitic and not particularly historically literate, they persecute the Jews and also go looking for early Roman Christians — a highly counterproductive course of action, as the Christians still identify as Jews. While pretending to work for them, the protagonist takes on the assignment of finding the Christians, and tracks down Mark (the gospel writer), who refuses to believe that the cultists would honor him, as they murdered his grandchildren.
  • "Rome, Sweet Rome" is a science fiction story based on a Popular Mechanics article questioning whether or not a US Marine Expeditionary Unit could single-handedly conquer the Roman Empire. Besides the usual Time Travel Tropes, it also explores the implications of sending Christians back to before the birth of Christ.
  • In the novel Snare, the Muslim religion was altered for people living on other planets so that "Face Mecca" means "Point To The Stars". The practitioners believe this to be because Mecca is an abstract place in Heaven. The guy who came up with the rule probably did it because figuring out what direction another planet is from a different solar system is hard to do without a degree in astronomy. There is also some discussion on how applicable some rules concerning traditional gender roles are to a race of female-dominated non-humans who express an interest in studying human religion.
  • In the prequel book to Jack Chalker's Soul Rider series, as the colonists are settling in on their new planet, the narrator remarks that the Muslim communities had long debates over which way Mecca was, given that, due to the method of travel they used to get there, they didn't even know which way Earth was. They decided that upward was the best bet. The narrator commented that this put them in agreement with the Christians in the group, and wondered if someday all their children would wind up praying to the gas giant planet that the planet was orbiting. Which is exactly what happened when the computers running the world ran a conversion program on the entire society to prevent a civil war and decimation of the populace and merged all religions into a single one as part of that change.
  • C. S. Lewis's The Space Trilogy:
    • Out of the Silent Planet has Martians who believe in the Trinity but have not yet learned of the incarnation of Christ (in the series, Earth is under a sort of spiritual quarantine that has prevented news from reaching the other planets). They are also un-Fallen (at least mostly: they do die, though they have no fear of death) and so did not have nor need an Incarnation of their own.
    • In Perelandra, it's revealed that Christ's life had profound cosmic consequences: after God became human it meant that all new sentient species from that point on would be human (though possibly of the Green-Skinned Space Babe variety.) Interestingly, however, Perelandra still has to go through its own version of the temptation of Evenote , which forms the plot for the novel.
    • Lewis also wrote an essay entitled "Religion and Rocketry", which identified a number of theological complications that could arise if man were to discover extraterrestrials, such as whether or not God's plan for human redemption would apply to them, or whether they would even need redemption in the first place. He ultimately comes to the conclusion that it's an interesting subject, but we shouldn't dwell on it too much until we actually find aliens.
  • The Sparrow has Jesuit priests making First Contact on a planet near Alpha Centauri. Although many of their practices are tolerated (in some cases enthusiastically appreciated), the gentle Runa natives get very upset when anybody sings or eats meat; all Masses have to be spoken only, without hymns, and when somebody opens a can of spam the room they're in is evacuated and sealed off. At the very end of the story, you find out why.
  • In the backstory of the Star Carrier series Islamic terrorists nuked several major cities around the world, setting off World War III. In its wake, every faith was required to ratify a pledge called the White Covenant that outlawed many religious practices: all adherents of all faiths could believe as they wished so long as that belief did not harm others. Proselytizing, most missionary work and conversion by threat or force were now violations of basic human rights. Naturally this didn't go over well with some, such as the Muslim colonists on Mufrid whom the America battle group is trying to rescue at least some of in Earth Strike, choosing to GTFO rather than ratify.
  • The Star Trek Expanded Universe collection Star Trek Corps of Engineers: Creative Couplings by David Mack has a story that involves a Jewish-Klingon wedding. The author apparently found a rabbi who was also a Star Trek aficionado and asked him how it would probably go down from a ceremonial standpoint, as well as what Klingon foods would be kosher.
  • The Takeshi Kovacs trilogy and its live-action adaptation Altered Carbon talk about Neo-Catholics, a futuristic revision of the old faith that, among other things, believes that use of the "Cortical Stack" (a Body Backup Drive and Body Surf technology that is omnipresent in the setting) means a violation of the soul (to explain: people resurrected with the Stack are The Soulless, who have forfeited their chance at eternal glory or judgment), and because of this those who practice the faith have given orders to not have their Stacks re-spun no matter what (essentially a futuristic "Do Not Resuscitate"). This becomes a very important plot point in the first book of the series.
  • The Temeraire series:
    • One scene features a priest discussing whether the (intelligent) dragons possess original sin. He comes to the conclusion that since they're not mentioned in the Bible as eating from the Tree, they do not. They're also unrelated to the serpent who tempted Eve because while the serpent was cursed to crawl along the ground, dragons mostly get around by flying through the air.
    • It’s occasionally brought up that Temeraire is perplexed by Christianity. One scene mentions that his captain Laurence has given up trying to teach him the Bible because the naturally curious Temeraire keeps asking stunningly blasphemous questions that make Laurence fear divine retribution, and in another Temeraire contemplates how strange it is that Laurence can deny the existence of spirits despite believing in one (the Holy Spirit).
    • When the group travels through the Middle East in Black Powder War they see both people and dragons praying towards Mecca.
    • A Buddhist dragon also gets a mention, though her religion is implied rather than stated outright.
  • Jo Walton's Thessaly trilogy (The Just City, The Philosopher Kings, and Necessity) explore a setting in which the goddess Athena uses time travel, magic, and robots to create something resembling Plato's Republic thousands of years in the past (It Makes Sense in Context), including some Christian characters' reactions to finding themselves living well before the birth of Christ.
  • This Alien Shore has an Encyclopedia Exposita selection from an apparently updated Bible that compares space travel to the tower of Babel. It states that man turned the skies "black with their arrogance", and that the mutation-triggering Hausman Drive was God's punishment, dividing humans by species as he did by language. Muslims are also required to visit Mecca at least once in their lives, even if they live on a planet that's light-years away. Most sects establish holy sites on their own planets for those who can't afford the trip, but traditionalists must visit Mecca itself, even if they have to sell themselves into Indentured Servitude. Because the traditionalists also can't be ruled by a nonbeliever, they live in their own area on the metroliner, with their own government and their own laws.
  • Harry Turtledove (who is notably Jewish) has a few examples.
    • He wrote a short story, "The R Strain", about the reaction of the Jewish community to the genetic engineering of ruminant pigs, which according to a straightforward interpretation of the rules could be kosher — but it's not necessarily that simple.
    • Turtledove also pulled the same "Eternal Judaism" trope as in the Dune example above, subtly — there's a short story about a time traveler from the far future whose home time's way of life is so fundamentally different from ours that he finds everything incomprehensible — yet upon spotting a menorah in his host's home, casually remarks, "If I saw that in my own time, I'd think you were Jewish".
    • The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump explores the results of a mash-up of a modern-world All Myths Are True fantasy setting, in which all the magic is religiously based.
  • The Venus Prime series has Khalid Sayeed, a devout Shiite Muslim who happens to live on Mars. To compensate for the fact that Mecca is on an entirely different planet, he uses a special astrolabe to discern Mecca's location relative to Mars so that he can pray in approximately the right direction.
  • The Wandering has some aliens from two different worlds discover that the only way to salvation is through Jesus and that Jesus' death on the cross was for all creation, including them.
  • Several stories in the anthology Wandering Stars touch on the question: does a Jew have to be human? Most notably, William Tenn's "On Venus, Have We Got a Rabbi".
  • The book Warp Angel by Stuart Hopen features a mercenary who, much to her surprise, falls in love with a rabbi/prominent religious leader who later gets kidnapped and shipped to a hellhole planet. The marriage was already kind of weird for her before that, and later Adam tries to figure out how one keeps kosher on the planet (by eating weeds).
  • Wearing the Cape: Breakthroughs can have essentially any power, and since their powers are based on their own beliefs and reaction to their trauma, it's not particularly uncommon for those powers to be religiously themed. The Middle East got carved up by a new Caliphate when a terrorist became the "Sword of the Faith," a ten-foot-tall angel wielding a flaming sword. In most of the world, religious Breakthroughs are seen as no different from other delusional Breakthroughs, though in Japan most people have largely accepted that magic is real, and ancient kami roam the land once more (the government still insists they're just delusional). In the West, it's mentioned that the Catholic Church investigates any claim of a divine miracle very closely, as Breakthrough powers are not considered miracles but it's difficult to conclusively prove that one wasn't involved.
  • Jo Walton's poem "When we were robots in Egypt" portrays a Passover seder as reinterpreted by AIs.
  • The Wicked Years has religious weirdness within its own fictional religions. The two main religions in Oz either worship Lurline or the Unnamed God. Many of the latter, Unionists, are talking animals known as "Animals". In Wicked, Elphaba and Boq wonder how so many Animals can be Unionist when the religion was clearly aimed towards humans and has a history of being anti-Animal.
  • In the Wild Cards books, the Church of Jesus Christ Joker believes that Jesus Christ incarnated as an intersex Joker. Most of the parishioners are Jokers themselves.
  • In A Wolf in the Soul, Holmes makes several attempts to explain Greg's lycanthropy in the context of Jewish mysticism. Dr. Rumu, with her Indian mysticism, oddly seems to have a more thorough grasp of exactly what is going on, but despite this, she is less able to provide a cure.
  • In Winston P. Sanders' novella The Word To Space, the SETI Project finally made contact with intelligent extraterrestrial life. Initially they were ecstatic — but then they discovered the extraterrestrials were the equivalent of the Jehovah's Witnesses or the Mormons, who saw making contact as a way to spread the Word and send Earth the equivalent of The Watchtower or Chick Tracts. The story dealt with the consequences of this bizarre dogmatic extraterrestrial religion making converts on Earth and the way they ignored all polite Earth requests that we'd quite like to get to know about you, your planet, its people, its science, etc., if you could throttle back on the word of God a bit, please. A Jesuit priest is brought in to consult and sets off a chain of events that results in Holy War at their end and the collapse of their theocracy.note 

    Live-Action TV 
  • Altered Carbon:
    • "Cortical stacks" are omnipresent technology that act as a combination Body Backup Drive and Body Surf technology. Neo-Catholics believe that spinning up a stack in any sleeve except your own is a violation of the soul, and you will forfeit your chance at eternal glory or judgment in the afterlife. Because of this, the faithful have special religious coding in their stacks so that they are not allowed to be resurrected. Shortly before the start of the series, a bill passed that prevents Neo-C's from being spun up even in virtual reality, meaning murder victims cannot testify against their killers. The Big Bad managed to find a way to fake religious coding, which she put on her Disposable Sex Workers without their knowledge or consent. The prostitutes let themselves get killed by the rich under the promise that they would be resleeved in an upgraded body, but instead they are just dumped somewhere, and the police can't do much about it since they can't even ask them what happened.
    • The Mexican Day of the Dead has been given a twist due to stacks. While the vast majority of people are too poor to buy a new sleeve when they die, families often rent sleeves so that their dead loved ones can visit. Detective Ortega spins up her grandmother for the celebration, which freaks out her family because they are all Neo-Catholics and didn't realize grandmother had removed her coding before she died. It didn't help that she was spun up in a male Neo-Nazi sleeve covered in white supremacist tattoos.
      Grandma: Oh, calm down, Alazne. It's like you've never seen a tattoo before.
  • Babylon 5 had several in-universe examples:
    • Ivanova's childhood rabbi visits the station, triggering a brief discussion of the difficulty of determining the kosher status of non-Earth food. The Rabbi's conclusion is that anything not mentioned in the Torah was probably OK, but he isn't certain. Or maybe he just wasn't too strict in his beliefs and wanted to try the food.note  The creator discussions mention that they would have loved to do more on it but didn't really have time. Ivanova, the only Jewish regular on the show, solves it by not bothering to keep kosher (her only objection to having bacon for breakfast was her tablemates' jealousy over the fact that Marcus hadn't provided her enough to share), though she probably wouldn't have on Earth, either.
    • A couple episodes feature a monastic order moving onto the station whose primary mission is to learn about the nature of God, which they accomplish in part by interviewing aliens such as Delenn about their native religious beliefs.
    • In an offhand mention in one episode, The Pope is described as a "she." Note that this is grammatically questionable: the official title of the position is "Supreme Pontiff." The word "pope" is more like an official nickname, a derivation of papa: father—a very masculine description.
    • In The Lost Tales, a Catholic priest monologues for a bit about the Catholic Church having to face a massive decline after humanity reached the stars. Naturally, he finds himself having to deal with a possible Demonic Possession.
    • The Catholic Church later helps to rebuild human civilization by saving knowledge in monasteries After the End, just as in Real Life following the fall of the Roman Empire.
    • Quite a few humans have turned to Interfaith Smoothie religions, including the local doctor. Others have picked up worship of The Maker, a deliberately vague creator god.
    • G'Quan's Narn followers are meant to perform a certain ritual at the time the sun dawns over a sacred mountain on their homeworld. When G'Kar is unable to hold the ritual then due to a lack of supplies, he is able to save face by holding the ritual at the time the light from that dawn nearly 10 years ago reaches Babylon 5 at the speed of light.
    • "Passing Through Gethsemane" asks whether a criminal subjected to Death of Personality and then converted to Catholicism can receive absolution if he can no longer remember his sins. (At this point it should surprise nobody that Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski is of Polish descent and was raised in the Catholic Church.)
  • From Being Human:
    Annie: Ah well, you shouldn't be eating bacon anyway, should you — you're Jewish.
    George: Yeah, I gave up on the whole Orthodoxy thing when I started turning into a wolf.
    Annie: Do they have rules about being a werewolf as well?
    George: I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a religion that doesn't frown on it.
    • Likewise, his Star of David is shown to work against all vampires except for Mitchell, since George implicitly trusts him.
  • A mild version occurs early in Charmed. Piper isn't very religious, but she wonders if the revelation that she's a witch means that she's evil in some way. She spends a whole episode psyching herself up to walk into a church and is relieved when she doesn't suddenly burst into flames or something.
    • The Source once tries to enter a church, but it turns out that those gargoyles actually do protect against evil spirits — one begins to snarl and creates a sort of magical barrier that weakens him.
  • In general, the Buffyverse has an odd relationship with Christianity. Crosses, holy water, and exorcism are all effective against vampires or demons, but most of what's portrayed about its actual cosmology isn't particularly Christian. One explanation is that it's not that Christian holy symbols work because of their connection to Christianity, but rather early Christians decided that symbols that messed up vampires were holy. On the other hand, there is a heaven where the dead go to and many worlds that are labeled as hells.
    • A line early in the episode "Tabula Rasa" makes it clear that there are multiple "heavenly" dimensions, not one specific "heaven where the dead go to."
    • In the Buffy episode "Passions", Willow does a ritual to prevent Angelus from entering her home:
      Willow: I'm gonna have a hard time explaining this to my dad.
      Buffy: You really think it'll bother him?
      Willow: Ira Rosenberg's only daughter nailing crucifixes to her bedroom wall? I have to go over to Xander's house just to watch 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' every year.
    • Toyed with in the second episode of the series, where Giles is explaining the origins of vampires and demons, and notes that "contrary to popular mythology" the world did not begin as a paradise, but a hell-world.
  • Doctor Who has never dealt too much with religion, and usually holds the view that there's No Such Thing as Space Jesus. However...
    • A few episodes show the Church a few thousand years from now, which shows that the Church have become Knight Templars — "protecting you now and in the hereafter." Also, the Pope's a woman.
    • "The Big Bang", set in a collapsing alternate timeline with no stars in the night sky, has a mention of Richard Dawkins (a noted atheist in Real Life) as the leader of a "star cult".
    • The classic era story "The Curse of Fenric" contains a species of mutant humans from the far future known as "Haemovores" who feed on the blood of other species. Although they at first appear to be repelled by standard holy symbols, this is in fact revealed not to be the case - what repels them is actually the wielder's faith. A reverend whose faith has been destroyed by witnessing the horrors of war is unable to repel the Haemovores with his Bible, but a Russian soldier successfully repels them with his Red Star badge and his faith in Communism. Ace can also repel them because she has complete and unwavering faith in the Doctor, which becomes an important plot point in the final episode when he needs to weaken her faith in him so that he can beat Fenric.
  • Dominion: When angels appeared, blamed humanity for God's disappearance, and proceeded to destroy most of the planet, most organized religions understandably collapsed. In the aftermath, however, the Church of the Savior (based on belief in The Chosen One foretold to one day save and restore humanity) slid into the slots leftover and has done very well for itself, being the unofficial official religion of Vega. Inversely, there's the Black Acolytes, who still worship Gabriel as a god, and believe that the suffering he's delivered to mankind will make them great. Oh, and the matriarchal society of Helena is said to worship something called the "divine femininity" which appears to have been referring to Uriel.
  • Conversed in Firefly. The series doesn't really touch on it (it helps that neither of the only two major religions depicted in the series, Christianity and Buddhismnote , have a lot of rules that can be affected by the setting elements), but one scene in "Jaynestown" has River start editing Shepherd Book's Bible on grounds that it doesn't make scientific sense. Book argues that River is Comically Missing the Point.
  • Juda is an Israeli TV series about a Jewish gangster who gets turned into a vampire. Since the consumption of blood is forbidden under kosher dietary laws, this puts him in a bind of how to feed; eventually, a rabbi declares he's permitted to drink blood so long as he sticks to that of kosher animals. The fact that he's Jewish also means he can't enter any room with a mezuzah on the doorpost.
  • The Orville: In "A Tale of Two Topas", Kelly briefly has to deal with an alien armorer who turned up to work naked due to a religious holiday, which both makes his coworker uncomfortable and violates uniform regulations. After a bit of back-and-forth on the subject, Kelly persuades him to at least put some pants on.
  • There's a few moments in The Path. Hawk Lane and other teens attend public high school where they say Meyerist grace holding hands before (vegetarian) lunch, and are called "weird cult kids". The trope really comes into play during Restitution, a Yom Kippur-like solemnity that all Meyerists, including those who live outside the community, are required to attend. Hawk, visiting a friend in New York, remembers that the speech his mother — currently a "Guardian of the Light" — gave at a recent religious conference was self-serving and not very Meyerist, so he blows off the festival. Although he volunteers to atone in Realignment Lockdown when he returns, it's implied he would be placed in lockdown anyway.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine drew a number of plots from the cultural conflict between the deeply religious Bajorans and the secular-humanist (and often outspokenly atheist) Federation. This is exacerbated by the fact that the Bajorans turned out in the pilot to have been mythologizing Sufficiently Advanced Aliens for tens of thousands of years: Sinister Minister Winn Adami's first appearance has her arguing with Keiko O'Brien over teaching the secular view of the wormhole and its inhabitants, as opposed to the religious traditions (an obvious allegory for teaching evolution versus creationism). The comparison immediately gets deconstructed when it turns out that outside her extremely conservative faction the rest of the clergy think the two perspectives amount to saying the same thing in different words; the show would later go on to show that their religion is accurate in every way it was testable.

  • Catholic author and apologist Jimmy Akin has a weekly podcast titled Jimmy Akin's Mysterious World, in which he and his producer discuss paranormal, supernatural, and other such strange topics "from the twin perspectives of faith and reason".

    Tabletop Games 
  • Aberrant: There is a note that upon many humans becoming super powered the Catholic Church debated the matter and concluded that Novas (as super powered humans are dubbed) are human and therefore subject to the same matters of sin and salvation and the like. Most world religions come to similar conclusions, though some extremist groups disagree. The main one focused on is The Church of Archangel Michael, who hold that Novas are all agents of Satan and should be killed.
  • Banestorm has this conceit as one of its central premises. Since the humans of the setting were initially yanked from Crusades-era Earth, and eventually became the dominant race, the major human religions are Christianity and Islam, with most nonhumans having converted. The introductory fiction in the setting book has an English sailor from the 16th century ending up on Yrth, Banestorm's world, and the first person he meets is a Catholic priest... who just so happens to be a goblin. Being transported to another Earth and meeting nonhumans raised a lot of theological questions, from which direction to pray in a world without the Mecca to whether or not nonhumans can be converted, but they eventually acclimatized (although some races are considered beyond salvation, such as demons, spirits, medusas, trolls, and vampires).
  • BattleTech
    • Though the setting is usually cursory in its detailing of religion, mentions theological disputes that delayed Islamic expansion into space, with the result that Islam is a minority faith in most every state in the Inner Sphere. Among other things, they decided that 'towards Mecca' can be approximated as 'towards the planet Earth', and really relaxed the hajj. The hajj was further complicated by Mecca being destroyed by a nuclear warhead during the fall of the Star League. An Entry with a Bang! used this for possibly the most positive moment involving Islamic warriors ever to appear in a Tom Clancy fanfiction.
    • Catholicism has also split at least once since humanity spread from Earth. The New Avalon branch of the church has its own Pope and all, although it's on generally good terms with the Earth-based one. This came about back when the Star League fell and the Pope decided to transfer control of the individual branches of the church to his immediate subordinates in each Successor State — but the transmission to New Avalon (in the Federated Suns) was garbled and the cardinal assumed he had been put in charge of the whole thing instead. By the time the misunderstanding was cleared up (there was a war going on, after all), both sides had grown just far enough apart to make a simple reunion impractical, and so the division has stood. Just to put the cherry on it, a combination of bad planning, war crimes, and national/religious fervor has resulted in the current Pope of New Avalon being a qualified Mechwarrior with his very own assault-class Omnimech.
  • In a Castle Falkenstein article in Pyramid magazine, "Concerning the Djinn", Phil Masters briefly looks at what it means to be a powerful spirit being and a devout Muslim, and the same ideas were later re-used in the same author's GURPS Castle Falkenstein: The Ottoman Empire. Essentially, the Djinn have their own mosques, hidden underground, because attending a human mosque is liable to be disruptive to proceedings (they generally turn invisible when making the hajj). Though funnily enough, these ideas all come more or less directly from genuine Muslim folklore.
    • Non-Muslim Djinn are repelled by Muslim prayers. While this certainly applies to evil Djinn (except the powerful Ifrit, who revel in blasphemy) it doesn't only apply to them — it's compared to how some European Faeries are repelled by symbols of Christianity, regardless of their morality. The in-universe authors aren't sure if Christian symbols affect djinn since the underlying mechanisms of all this aren't understood.
  • Eclipse Phase briefly mentions how the three Abrahamic religions coped (or, more accurately, largely failed to cope) with the functional immortality granted by Brain Uploading and Body Surfing, and how faiths with reincarnation as a tenet (such as Hinduism and Buddhism) increased in popularity as the technology became widely available.
  • Vampires in Munchkin Bites can wear "The Yarmulke of Religious Obfuscation", which grants bonuses when fighting Meddling Clerics or Vampire Hunters.
  • The second edition of Scion abandons the Masquerade-focused world of the first edition in favor of a world where the pantheons have always been known to the world, but not necessarily prominent. As a result, a lot of syncretism happens, but it's not treated as a huge deal. A parishioner may go to church on Sunday, but might offer a sacrifice to a Yoruba deity for good luck or order a taurobolium during an OB-GYN appointment. That said, the Abrahamic figures have gone from being heavily implied to not exist — since Satan is no longer actually Pan while YHVH and his angels aren't heavily implied to be the Titan Aten and his spawn — to having their status go unmentioned.
  • Transhuman Space gives a brief rundown on how various religions deal with "ghosts" and AIs. Broadly speaking, they tend to be "humanocentric" but not "bio-chauvinist" (that is, they don't see AIs as people, but accept brain uploads as being the same person, more or less), although there are lots of exceptions and several fringe sects such as Christian Hyperevolutionism.
  • Traveller is often cursory as well but it has some fairly well-developed religions. In any case, religion is usually just another facet of local custom.
  • The Vampire: The Requiem book on the Lancea Sanctum (a generally Abrahamic Covenant that believes the centurion Longinus was turned into a vampire when the blood of Christ dripped onto his lips and was taught that vampires are commanded by God to harrow sinners) goes into detail about how the various creeds mesh together on the vampiric condition and the mortal faith of their practitioners (for instance, how a Muslim vampire effectively fasts during Ramadan when he's in a coma from sunup to sundown).

    Video Games 
  • Rivet City in Fallout 3 has a Catholic church dedicated to St. Monica, a ghoul who is apparently the patron saint of the Wasteland.
  • Mass Effect
    • Cerberus News had a news report that Jews in the future are celebrating Passover, and there is some religious argument about whether aliens can be present at the meal. Most agree that yes, they can, and there's even a small business supplying unleavened bread specifically made for turians and quarians.
    • A certain Armor-Piercing Question in the backstory that spurs a centuries-long war that drove an entire species from their planet: "Does this unit have a soul?"
    • The Codex indicates that many aliens have responded to the plethora of alien religions by converting (for example, Confucianism and Zen Buddhism have found a niche among the turians). For various reasons, certain religions are popular with races that discovered them only after going to the stars. Meanwhile, it is implied that theistic belief in general has declined amongst humanity (Ash implies that she has been harassed in the past for believing in God, for example).
  • One Muslim Minecraft player made a Self-Imposed Challenge for observing the faith in-game.
  • Ideoligions in Rimworld: Ideology may (among other options) be nominally descended from Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, or Islam. Nominally. The descended religions may share the faith's symbols, naming conventions, and some vestigial practices like Christianity's Christmas Trees. Past that, their precepts may veer wildly off-course, and even when the precepts look something like the original faith, the generated narratives suggest that the religions have changed a lot in the face of the vast separations between the stars.

  • A one-off gag strip of A&H Club has the devoutly Christian Eliza in front of a portrait of Jesus as a lion, while Hilde points out that, historically, he was a ram; a Funny Animal version of the difference between the traditional Western portrayal and contemporary descriptions, combined with a riff on the Lamb of God/Lion of Judah symbolism.
  • Calamities of Nature notes that being gay and Catholic is easier than being a vampire and a Jehovah's Witness.
  • The sapient robots in Freefall are trying to understand religion, and have selected "radical agnostic" Max Post as spiritual advisor for his lack of bias and dedication to critical thinking. Other than that, the only real weirdness we see from them on the subject is Dvorak's theory of "Omniquantism": If God is truly all-powerful, then all religions can be true simultaneously. Thinking about it too hard causes one in three robots to crash (the other two probably dismiss it as nonsense).
    • Several later strips feature the human Gregor Thurmad, who is a Space Amish ("...and no computer systems more advanced than Windows 95").
  • There's one arc of Get Medieval that culminates in a group of characters, including medieval Christian Sir Gerard, spending some time on the moon, and Gerard at one point thinks, "No wonder it's taking Jesus 1400 years to return. He's got quite a tour to make." Similarly, when the other characters reveal their Human Alien origins, he doesn't question why they look just like humans because "God made mankind in his own image. Why would he make other planets differently?" And in the same arc, one of the Human Aliens who's converted to Islam stops for a moment to pray while they're on the moon and faces towards Earth since that's where Mecca is.
  • In Kevin & Kell, everyone sees Jesus as their own species.
  • In 1/0, the grass golem Zadok is interested in exploring his pseudo-Jew roots, but he lives in a minimalistic webcomic with No Fourth Wall, no rabbis, nothing to circumcise, and thus no way to complete the formal conversion — he is incapable of (Orthodox) Judaism.
  • The world of Skin Horse is full of odd creatures and transhumans who practice religions, and religious scholars have apparently put a lot of thought into how the religious rules apply to their unusual circumstances. The most prominent example is Nick, whose brain was extracted from his body and integrated into a helicopter. He still considers himself Jewish and has installed a mezuzah on his cabin doorway.

    Web Original 
  • In 17776, religion as a whole became a dying concept after humanity achieved immortality. The few remaining believers struggle to reconcile their current situation with the promise of an afterlife for them. Some even start to believe their current situation is the afterlife.
  • The article '5 Light-Hearted Movies With Dark Moral Implications' raised the issue of religion in the Harry Potter universe: Regular religions exist there, and the characters are shown celebrating Christmas, so how does a world of magic and undead interact with people's belief in Christianity or other religions? Especially given that wizards can do magic akin to several miracles Jesus is said to have done. (The article neglects the fact that Christmas is often still celebrated as a secular holiday by non-Christians, especially in a Christian country like Scotland.)
  • Malachi in Enter the Farside talks about this in Interlude 2. He says that the existence of the Farside was enough to make most major religions have a big enough crisis of faith that a war started to happen.
  • Magic, Metahumans, Martians and Mushroom Clouds: An Alternate Cold War: The restored prevalence of magic leads to the renewal of and increase in pagan worship, while also causing more mainstream religions to come more under the influence of their respective occult beliefs (Kabbalist Judaism, Enochian Christianity, Sufi Islam, etc.).
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe has caused Internet observers to note that Physical Gods exist on Earth, and yet there is little religious upheaval on the subject:
    Captain America: Met two gods, still a Christian
    Iron Man: Met two gods, still an atheist
    The Hulk: Met two gods, beat the crap out of both
  • In Piecing Together the Ashes: Reconstructing the Old World Order, numerous new religions have popped up since the Deluge, while old ones have changed:
    • The major post-Deluge branches of Christianity in America are the Reconstructionist Christians (who are the result of remaining Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and some Protestants mixing together) and the Southron Church of Christ (which combines numerous Protestant denominations together along with Confederate nostalgia).
    • Lincolnism is a Christian denomination that views Lincoln and other American presidents as saints.
    • Widdhism is a mixture of Wicca, Taoism, and Buddhism, with a bit of Star Wars mythology thrown in.
    • Several religions are based on misremembered bits of pre-Deluge pop culture — Disney is viewed as its own pantheon; Gallifreyenism is primarily based on Doctor Who with other characters portrayed by numerous actors (including James Bond and Spider-Man) being in the pantheon; Etherianism is based on Masters of the Universe (primarily She-Ra and the Princesses of Power) with some Disney thrown in; Dreemuritism is based on Undertale; Senshiism is primarily based on Sailor Moon with other anime/manga thrown in, etc. Oh, and cosplaying is considered a sacred practice of personifying the gods by most of these.
    • Lego was misremembered for a time as a religion based on "the Master Builders" until archaeologists finally uncovered evidence proving what it really was.
  • Scary News out of Tokyo-3: It turns out Second Impact had a pretty drastic effect on a number of real-world religions (and cults). Some have died out completely; others, like (for example) Scientology, no longer exist in their original form.
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-3004 ("Imago"). It's a completely insane cicada god worshipped by a now-extinct Irish druidic cult that has come to believe it is the Judeo-Christian God. It warps Christian ceremonies into a Religion of Evil involving Body Horror, self-mutilation, and Animalistic Abominations. It doesn't understand what its followers really want or believe or the harm it causes and worse, it is breaking through into our reality; the Foundation's contingency is to use amnesia agents and Thaumiel-level SCPs to erase Christianity from the historical record in an attempt to starve it. It's the Hijacked by Jesus trope Inverted and played for all the cosmic and religious horror it can be.

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama, Dr. Zoidberg, who himself carries many stereotypical Jewish mannerisms, is in one episode refused entrance to a "Bot-Mitzvah", run by Jewish robots, due to being shellfish and thus not kosher. Word of God says that his entire race converted to something akin to 20th-century East Coast America middle-class moderate/reform Judaism because it suited them... and because it's funny.

    Real Life / Other 
  • This Twitter thread by a rabbi debates the status of various fantasy and Sci-Fi creatures. Porgs are definitely not kosher, dragons should not start fires on the Sabbath, and vampires should probably not be invited into shul. Also, Baba Yaga's house has chicken feet and a gizzard (if a mortar and pestle count), which makes it technically kosher!
  • The Catholic Church has debated the idea of extraterrestrial life, and one conclusion they have reached is that not all alien races might be Fallen as humanity is — which also implies they wouldn't have had a Messiah either as they wouldn't have needed saving in the first place (or possibly that they might have had a different Messiah, and thus live by different rules. Since these would still be from God they would be no less valid than ours. This is bound to get interesting should contact ever happen.)
    • An official statement of the Vatican can basically be boiled down to, "There is no current proof of whether or not alien life exists, but the Bible does not strictly speak against it, so it's still possible. Should we encounter alien life in the future and they wish to join the Church, we will gladly offer them baptism." Cue outrage and hate from various other denominations and "more orthodox" Catholic parishes.
  • According to The Qur'an and other Islamic sources, djinni (invisible spirits made of fire and the inspiration for genies in Western literature) follow the same religions that humans do — there are Muslim genies, Christian genies, Jewish genies, etc. — and will be judged at the end of time in the same manner that humans will.
  • There has been some debate about whether or not eating mermaids is acceptable under Islam. Given that nearly all mythological portrayals of mermaids portray them as sapient (not to mention quite vengeful), the answer is very likely to be a resounding no.
  • One rather bizarre Taliban propaganda video done by one of Osama Bin Laden's underlings apparently encouraged Muslims to invade space and convert aliens. The reaction of just about every news agency to it was 'What?'
  • The question is Older Than They Think. One Medieval Theologian on being asked about how The Fair Folk fit in, replied simply that it was probably better to wait until they knew they existed. C. S. Lewis noticed this in his book The Discarded Image (an overview of Medieval beliefs for use in understanding Medieval literature). The book devotes a whole chapter to The Fair Folk. J. R. R. Tolkien, on the other hand, in part wrote his mythology specifically to fit elves into the picture. In one essay, he commented "God is the Lord of Angels, of Men — and yes, of Elves". One interpretation is that Tolkien's Elves are meant to represent an Unfallen humanity; this is what Mankind would be if they had never been cast out of Eden — Eden in this case being the Undying Lands, which the Elves can leave by choice but can always return to.
  • Between the World Wars, in US East Coast Jewish culture, there was a common custom of going to the Catskills during the summers to watch Jewish vaudeville shows in the resorts there. One of the most popular and most common jokes would take place in the context of a skit in which a leering vampire pursues a woman all around the set, until, cornered, she hides her face and holds out a cross. "Dracula" would smirk at the audience, and hold his knowing pause until the audience was hysterical with laughter, then say, sometimes in Yiddish, "Oy, have YOU got the wrong vampire!" That joke also got used in The Fearless Vampire Killers.
  • The Chacham Tzvi once wrote a response on whether or not a Golem, which resembles a human but does not have a human soul, could be counted in a minyan (a gathering of ten Jews for prayer). This may actually become a relevant issue if we ever manage to make Ridiculously Human Robots... The plain answer is "no".
  • The Talmud makes mention of people who would create an animal Golem and eat it, presumably without the need for ritual slaughter. One hopes that, unlike the more famous one, this one wasn't made of clay.
  • The Vatican's recent revelation that the pope is not allowed to be an organ donor, lest someone inadvertently find themselves with an organ that's a holy relic, has led to a bunch of speculation in the science fiction community about what exactly having holy organs would mean. This blog post by Charles Stross is representative.
  • Bacon grown from stem cells. This kind of food is technically halal, as there are pork substitutes commonly consumed by vegetarians which are certified halal by local religious authorities, but it can be argued that it is haram on the grounds that it will encourage Muslims to eat actual pork after that. Whether it is Kosher is another story, though.
  • Epistola de Cynocephalis, by the 9th-century churchman Rimbert, is an essay pondering whether the dog-headed men (of travelers' tall tales, believed widely throughout Europe) have souls and should be baptized. As you can see, the concept of interaction of aliens and religion is Older Than Print.
    • Some versions of Saint Christopher's legend describe him as a dog-headed giant. However, there's a disagreement about whether he comes from a tribe of cynocephals or was transformed as an adult.
  • This StackExchange question explores the issue of how a werewolf should celebrate Jewish holidays — since, due to the lunar nature of the Hebrew calendar, most of them take place at the full moon.
  • According to declassified documents, prior to the Apollo moon landing in 1969, the US government determined that should Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong be stranded on the moon to a certain death as a result of a failure of the lunar module, a clergyman should adopt funeral rites consistent with a burial at sea, commending their souls to "the deepest of the deep" and concluding with the Lord's Prayer.
  • The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has condemned reproductive cloning, but they have also stated that, should a human clone seek to be baptised, "this church will respect their God-given dignity and will welcome them to the baptismal font, like any other child of God."
  • Then there's the question of how a Muslim is supposed to fulfill their obligation to pray facing Mecca five times a day while in space. Some Muslim scholars have come up with answers.

Alternative Title(s): Clerical Fiction