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"How many people do you have to root to become a saint?"
Mick Molloy, complaining about Mary McKillop becoming Australia's first saint instead of him.

Sometimes, authors, script writers, etc. simply don't do the research when it comes to Religion Tropes in their work. Well, ok, more than sometimes.... Often it's laughable, as when a hack writer/bomb-thrower attempting a Take That against a particular faith demonstrates he knows absolutely zip about his targets and their beliefs. Most believers will gladly tell you everything you want to know and leave you with a free copy of their holy text(s)—it's not like the research is difficult.

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

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 equivalent thereof, when it's not.

General Misconceptions

All Religions

  • It is generally portrayed that within each religion there is an agreement on what is canon. This couldn't be more wrong and in fact, there are more arguments over canon than in any other literary type. This is because, unlike in what is generally considered fiction, many people place a lot of faith on the literal interpretations of religious passages.
  • Anyone talking about native traditions that they read in a book is probably wrong. There are many such books, and they either have 19th-century anthropological biases, or more recently are an attempt to spread ideology (e.g., Ruth Beebe Hill spreading Objectivism) or make money (e.g., Robert "Ghost Wolf" Franzone).
  • The statement that all religions are basically and essentially the same. This statement can easily be disproven by contrasting the Christian concept of people as material-spiritual beings, with the Hindu and Buddhist concept of transmigration of the soul, or by contrasting the Catholic two-in-one-flesh concept of marriage, with the traditional Muslim idea, which permits divorce, temporary marriage, and polygamy. In 99.9% of cases, anyone claiming this is basing their opinion on popular (and largely eclectic) ideas and works, most of which cherry-pick only the most minor and non-objectionable elements of a religion, which would be difficult to codify into a religion on their own. Particularly since contrary to popular belief, a moral law system common to all religions cannot be agreed upon.


  • Buddhism is often classified as purely a philosophy, and definitively not a religion. Depending on the form of Buddhism, there are in fact many potential elements (belief in souls, god-like beings, miracles) that would be thought of as being religious, while other forms have none of those elements. Debate could go on forever over whether it's a religion or a philosophy, but the bottom line is that it's more complicated than it's sometimes presented.
  • Buddhism is sometimes called nihilistic, but that's isn't very accurate. Saying that Buddhism is nihilist in the context of Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophy is a different story; Nietzsche's definition of nihilism is rather different, as evidenced by his belief that Christianity is a form of nihilism.
  • Any time the Buddha appears as a jolly fat guy. This is actually a guy known as Budai or Hotei, who is often erroneously called the "fat Buddha" or "laughing Buddha". This misconception comes from the fact that Budai himself was considered a Boddhisattva (a person who attained buddhahood), and is often regarded as an embodiment of Maitreya.

Christianity - Traditional

This folder has been moved to its own page: Artistic License Traditional Christianity

Christianity - Modern Offshoots

  • Mormons teach that angels are in fact of the same order of creation as human beings. They believe that unborn human spirits were in fact the angels that helped build Creation, and post-mortal human spirits (and resurrected persons) act as what we call angels as well.
    • The New Church ("Swedenborgian") holds expressly that "Heaven and Hell are entirely from the human race... There is not a single angel or devil who was created as such." (Swedenborg, HEAVEN AND HELL).
  • Any jokes about Mormons and polygamy tend to ignore how it was and is practiced in reality. Even at height of the practice in the 1800s, polygamists were a minority of the Mormon population. Some groups within the Latter Day Saint movement (such as the Community of Christ) never practiced it at all. In 1890, the LDS Church abandoned the practice and forbade any of its members to enter into a polygamous marriage or face immediate excommunication. Several small groups rejected this change of policy and founded small colonies in remote areas in order to continue polygamy, some of which survive today. These small groups tend to have a man marry one wife legally and then co-habitat with "spirit wives." Most of these are good law-abiding citizens. However, some Mormon Fundamentalists do take polygamy to the extreme, saying that a man who doesn't have more than one wife can't make it to heaven. They then exile young boys to ensure there are enough women to go around, and sometimes force underage girls into "marriages" with older men, sometimes men who are closely related to them. But your average Mormon doesn't practice polygamy, and hasn't been able to for at least five generations.
    • Polygamy is a very sensitive topic for mainstream Mormons, which has led to some misinformation within the Mormon community trying to minimize the importance of polygamy in church history. You often see claims that only 3 percent of 19th century Mormons practiced it (the actual number was more like 20 percent), and that only a few select members received a "calling" from God to practice polygamy (after the 1850s it was largely voluntary, but it still required approval from church leaders.)
    • Also, when discussing polygamy it's important to remember that the historical context of polygamy wasn't very sexy - polygamy happened so that something could be done with a woman nobody knew what else to do with, such as a widow who had nobody left to provide for her. In small, struggling communities without a lot of self-sufficient single men to go around a few men had to double up on their responsibilities. It was often considered a sad duty to take another mouth to feed into your home. (Polygamy in Islam tended to work the same way.) Now that we have women getting jobs and educations, and a welfare system and so on, the practice is not very relevant.
  • The Mormon health code named Word of Wisdom, which gives dietary guides for its members always seems to include caffeine when talked or joked about, despite the fact caffeine is nowhere to be found in the Word of Wisdom text within the Doctrine and Covenants. The abstention of alcohol (except that of the pure fruit) usually gets mentioned and occasionally tobacco.
    • Although it's not strictly banned, the Word of Wisdom does generally forbid (or advise against) the consumption of anything that may be addictive. As new reports come out of caffeine's addictive qualities, many Mormon families have given up the practice of consuming it.


  • The idea that Muslims do not believe in Jesus is only half correct. Not only does Jesus feature in the Koran but Muslims often visit Christian holy sites. They do differ, however, in that while Muslims do believe Jesus to be the Messiah; they just define "Messiah" as being a less important role than Jews or Christians do. They believe that Jesus was divinely created and performed many miracles, despite not being divine himself. Basically, Jesus was not the Son of God, but he was a prophet only a little less important than Muhammed, and was not resurrected, but rather ascended into heaven from the cross while alive.
  • Medieval Christian Europeans believed that the Muslim "Saracens", worshipped Muhammed (Mahomet), who they believed to have been a Christian bishop who started his own religion after a failed bid for the papacy. At other times Muslims were alleged to worship Apollo, Lucifer, or "Termagant", a wholly imaginary god whose name may be a bastardization of the Norse god Tyr. Their artwork and poetry reflected this, with scenes of the Muslims praying over idols, etc.
    • This is the basis of the now out-of-use term "Mohammedanism," which Muslims take offense to because of its implication that they worship the prophet.
      • When Islam first appeared, even learned Christians weren't sure how to classify it: it didn't make sense to call it pagan because Muslims were strict monotheists, Islam was clearly not a sect of Judaism, and calling it a heresy would indicate it was far closer to orthodox Christianity than it actually is. Still, the name "Mohammedanism" follows the naming convention for heresies, which is that if the heretical teaching does not have a name, then it is named after the one who advocated it (generally a bishop, hence the mistaken impression that Mohammed was a renegade bishop).


  • Anything that says you have to have a Bar Mitzvah ceremony to become a man, such as one episode of The Simpsons ("Today, I Am A Clown"). You don't. You just have to turn 13. The Bar Mitzvah ceremony just marks the occasion: the newly-thirteen-year-old does an adult activity, such as serving as the reader in the synagogue, simply to show that he can, and there's a party to celebrate.
    • Lampshaded in Harry Kemmelman's One Fine Day the Rabbi Bought a Cross, where Rabbi Small makes a futile attempt to convince the man who "never had a Bar Mitzvah" and his abettors in the congregation that they are confusing it with Christian confirmation.
      • Also played with in a Kim Possible episode in which Ron gets the notion into his head that he's not really a man because the rabbi forgot to sign his Bar Mitzvah certificate. This is clearly presented as just Ron being neurotic (again) rather than an actual Jewish belief, though.
    • Similarly, ultra-Orthodox Jewish girls having a Bat Mitzvah at thirteen, when they don't have Bat Mitzvahs at all. Orthodox girls have it at twelve, while most Reform girls celebrate their Bat Mitzvah at thirteen.
    • And the idea that the phrase Bar Mitzvah specifically refers to the ceremony and/or party is at least a bit simplistic. At the age of 13, a Jewish boy becomes a Bar Mitzvah (Literally: "son of the commandment" i.e. a person fully responsible for living by Jewish law), regardless of whether he takes part in a ceremony or has a party.
  • The use of Star of David as a protective religious symbol, analogous to the Cross (waving it in the face of vampires, etc.) is... doubtful. The Star of David is usually more of a symbol of Jewish ethnic/national identity and is not used in this context. The actual means of warding off evil in Judaism (the Sh'ma prayer, and also certain Psalms and talismans) are hardly ever depicted in fiction.


  • Atheism can be roughly summarised as ranging from a simple lack of a positive belief that (specific) god or gods exists, to an explicit belief that a god or gods do not exist. Typically atheists will extend non-belief to most, or any, form of supernatural activity, but it is not required. This differs from agnosticism in that agnostics tend to assert that humans don't (or cannot) know if a god or gods exist, and so generally remain undecided. However This does not actually preclude belief one way or the other as, contrary to popular belief, agnostics are neither religious nor atheists - unlike atheism, agnosticism comes in almost as many shades as belief does.
    • Bear in mind that agnosticism and atheism are not mutually exclusive - it's possible to be an agnostic atheist, i.e. "I do not know if a god exists or not, and I do not believe that it does". Gnostic atheism, on the other hand, would be more along the lines of "I know that there is no god". On average, most atheists would lean towards being agnostic rather than be completely gnostic in regards to their atheism.
  • Atheism is not a religion in itself; a good quotation is, "Calling atheism a religion is like saying that not being a stamp collector is a hobby". However, a few atheists treat their atheism as a sort of 'anti-religion'. There are a number of atheists on the internet (though one or two may be trolls) who initiate religious debates completely out of context in order to reaffirm their supposed 'moral high ground', and will defend their lack of belief with a very ideological zeal. Some dictatorial regimes (Soviet Russia, North Korea, China, etc) have made atheism mandatory and gone to very extreme lengths to propagate it and wipe out religion entirely. This form of atheism is often called 'anti-theism' or 'militant atheism' as its proponents generally demand a complete and total removal of religion via forceful means. This has resulted in a lot of things we probably shouldn't mention here to save arguments. Suffice to say, strongly anti-theists of the sort described above don't curve back round and become 'religious' - this is a cheap argument that attempts to shift the blame for evils committed by anti-theists onto religion as a whole, or a hypothetical 'religious mindset'. Use of this argument is tantamount to saying that "anything bad done in order to spread atheism or destroy religion is religion's fault".
    • It's worth noting that they weren't dictators because they were atheistic, it's the other way around. Religion involves devotion to something that isn't the state, and is so unacceptable. Dictators choose atheism precisely because it involves no devotion (so they have no competition), and not because it's 'evil', or 'heartless' in some way. Most anti-theists that go to such extremes don't do it because they believe religion is wrong (i.e. the attitude doesn't naturally arise from atheism), but because it gets in the way of some ulterior motive. The 'lesser' anti-theists generally (though not always) don't know as much about religion as they think they do. Though the equivalent could be said for the 'anti-atheists' as well. Hence this page I guess.
    • This is true for most countries under dictatorship.State atheism is only inforce to make sure that the people are completely loyal too their government and nothing else. Some examples would be North Korea,Cuba,and The Republic of China Between 1900–1950. One of the few exception would be the Republic of Albania which mainly did it for the sake of atheism.

Miscellaneous - Other


  • Taoism: Few things are known by people from the West besides "go with the flow." Which, besides missing a few of the finer points, is overly simplistic.
    • That Taoism is only a philosophy, not a religion (actually, it's both, with a great deal of overlap into alchemy, medicine, and other disciplines). This website has a huge amount about what it really means to be a Taoist.
  • The belief that Taoism and Christianity are mutually exclusive. The theory is based on several assumptions, such as that it is related to the above Dualism, that Satan is depicted as an "opposite but equal" force to God the Father or Jesus, and by this (mis)understanding, the two are unworkable. In point of fact, Satan isn't even part of the picture in the combined religion or otherwise (except possibly in something out of balance) and God can be Yin/Yang himself. Nevermind that Taoism is more pantheistic than monotheistic anyway. Taoism is also extremely flexible, allowing for many influences from Christianity or other religions (most notably combining into Zen Buddhism), so there is nothing to preclude the reverse from being the case.

  The Tao that may be told is not the true Tao.


Left Hand Paths

  • The way mainstream society does this in regard to Left Hand Path religions deserves a major mention here. To go into depth about it would take up almost a page, but here's a few highlights:
    • There are many left hand path faiths. La Veyan Satanism is not the only one. There's everything from Thelema to Setianism to the Jizo sects of Buddhism to Chaos Magick, with many others under the umbrella. What defines a belief as Left Hand Path is its willingness to accept Alternate Character Interpretation of a figure/figures who are judged as "evil" in a dominant belief system. (e.g. Lucifer and other "fallen angels" or "heretics" in Christianity, Set in Egyptian paganism, the Jizo Buddha which guards hell in some Buddhist teachings, Loki in Norse paganism, etcetera) More than one figure may be upheld by a specific practitioner who is simply interested in the idea of Perspective Flip as applied to belief. So to call all left hand path belief "Satanism" or "devil worship" is Epic Fail and very offensive to, say, a practitioner who follows Jizo Buddhism because they don't believe in anything related to Christianity, not even its inversion.
  • Actual followers of Left Hand Paths are generally not following a Religion of Evil, and usually are ethical enough not to harm innocents. Whereas some people may use the figures in these paths to create a Religion of Evil or a Cult, and while some violent teenagers and The Mentally Disturbed may use the symbolism of, say, Satanism in criminal actions, these are no more connected to actual Left Hand Path belief than child abuse is connected to Christianity. And most of us who are really devoted to a LHP religion see them as having failed study forever. That said, there may be some exceptions to this rule (as there are always) but the media portrayal of "Satanic killers" is frankly offensive bullshit and more failure.
    • Not even all followers of these paths specifically worship anyone or anything. Most accurately, La Veyan Satanism could be considered "atheism on steroids with a huge dose of Take That at Christianity by inverting its practices," for example, and Chaos Magick is a system far more concerned with the use of magick to empower than with "worship" of a specific deity. On the other hand, some do. The okayness of your mileage varying is a central point of most left-hand path paganism. The failure happens when, as usual, people insist that Left Hand Path followers "worship Satan." And Epic Fail happens when *non left hand path* Pagans are accused of "worshipping Satan."
    • Finally, rituals do not, in real life, involve murder, rape, or sexual abuse. If they do, this is a sign you're mixed up with some people who are not only breaking the law and who you should report to the police at once, but who are also a powerful example of You Fail Religious Studies Forever. While the figures held in esteem by left hand paths may have engaged in such behavior, so have major mainstream religious figures, and a sane follower of, say, Loki or Set, isn't going to go and commit incest and murder any more than a sane Jew would do it just because King David did it.


  • Wiccans don't just believe in a Goddess, there is both a Goddess and a God. Also, the pentacle, though it has been adopted by Wiccans as a symbol for the elements, was originally a Pythagorean symbol (as well as a Christian symbol; see "Christianity - Traditional").
  • Conflating all of Wicca with Dianic Wicca. Dianic Wicca either completely ignores the Horned God, or places sole supremacy on the Goddess. Many sects within Dianic Wicca are also female only. This contradicts most other Wiccan sects belief that there must be a balance between genders (at it's most extreme, some Wiccan sects require an equal number of males and females in a coven). As a result, many Wiccan sects do not consider Dianic Wicca to be true Wicca. Dianic Wicca has reacted by agreeing with the sentiment and distancing itself from the name Wicca, calling their faith either "Dianic Witchcraft" or "Dianic Feminist Witchcraft". Nonetheless, most representations of Wicca in the media is based on Dianic Wicca, usually of the solitary practitioner variety.
    • On the other hand, Gavin and Yvonne Frost of the "Church of Wicca" have been accused of not being "real" witches because they are (or at least were) Gasp! MONOTHEISTS! And Dianics aren't?
  • All Wicca being at odds with Christian symbolism. In truth, the oldest form of Wicca, Gardnerian Wicca, has references to the Bible. Spells invoke the names of prophets, saints, angels, and Jesus, though this is often alongside the names of gods from other pantheons. In fact, the Virgin Mary is believed to be one of the forms of the Goddess. It is true, however, that later forms of Wicca have de-emphasized or removed these references, for a variety of reasons, including Christian persecution.
    • While it may not be at odds with Christian symbolism to the Wiccans, it quite clearly is to the Christians. Pretty sure the Vatican wouldn't be too thrilled with throwing Jesus in with other gods/goddesses.
  • Using the words "witch" and "Wiccan" as if they're interchangeable - they're not. While it's safe to say that most Wiccans are witches, not all witches are Wiccans, let alone believe in the God and Goddess. Likewise, referring to an adherent of the religion as a "Wicca" rather than a "Wiccan."

Specific Examples


  • 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." This is already a serious failure to understand Catholic and Christian dogma, but coupled with Mexico's overwhelmingly large Catholic majority, it's truly odd. 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, and 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. Also, the apocryphal "Book of Enoch" and many of the earliest Kabbalist writings believed the angel Metatron is actually the Prophet Enoch transformed, while Sandalphon is the Prophet Elijah.
  • "Kosher style" food. Kosher is simply a set of dietary laws on how to prepare and combine food, not a style of food. One can have Kosher Chinese, or Japanese food for example.

Comic Books

  • Chuck Austen on Roman Catholicism in the X-Men 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 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 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 wafers distributed far and wide and not have anyone discover them, have Catholics spontaneously adopt the Rapture (as it is not part of Catholic Dogma), 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 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.
    • 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..
    • 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 Catholics in general, who consider that part of the book to be thinly-veiled criticism of the Roman Empire.
    • So, in other words, their whole plan relied on the false assumption that Christianity Is Catholic.
    • Linkara also point out (in these reviews [1] [2]) that Chuck Austen got some of the Bible quotes he used in that story wrong and he even misspelled the word revelation! It's safe to assume he didn't do to much research.
  • Jack Chick and any religious ideology besides his 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 work's aren't an elaborate parody. It helps that he is so cryptic a person that absolutely nothing is known about him. Wikipedia even suggest that might have been "pen name for an unnamed author or authors". Examples of Artistic License - Religious Studies from Chick Tracts include:

  "At 25, he had married Khadija, a wealthy Catholic widow who was 40 years old...

      • Who besides playing to the author's weird beliefs on Catholics (to which even Wikipedia says nothing to prove), she looks closer to 25, and he looks closer to 40.
  • Azrael, in spades, 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. Aaaaaaaandd here's where it fails. 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. 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").

Computer & Video Games

  • Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri: For some reason Sid, or at least his design team, thinks that communists are rabid religious fanatics. The game's ominously named Human Hive, better known as the 'Despot' faction, features archetypal Asian communist leader, 'Chairman Sheng-ji Yang', who gives an awful lot of his bases religious-sounding names. Quite apart from the fact that, in the words of its most influential proponents, supporters, practitioners, and its very creators, communism is explicitly founded on atheism and is very militantly opposed to religion of any kind.
    • The above would be true, if not for two things: first, Marxist communism is atheistic but there've been religious varieties; and second, to call Sheng-ji Yang "archetypal Asian communist leader" is a big oversimplification—his philosophy is his own, based on not only communism, but also Taoism and others.

Fan Fiction


 "I DONT BELEVE IN GOD I AM N ATHEIST. i thnk saten created dis universe god bles u satan" [sic]


  11. No BENG GAY!f [sic]



  • In Dogma the concept of Plenary Indulgence is 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's not it. Plenary Indulgence is the removal of 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 failing 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.
    • Dogma also states that angels can't have sex when the Bible says they fathered children. The film further states that the Catholic church has a huge conspiracy to conceal the existence of Jesus Christ's brothers and sisters. The same ones that are mentioned explicitly as such in the Book of Matthew. And the Book of Acts. And the Book of Luke. And the Book of John. And the Epistle of James and the Epistle of Jude, each written by brothers of Jesus.
    • Accordingly, the Grigori (what Ben Affleck's character was) were a choir of Angels discussed in the Apocrypha, which is considered non-canonical by Catholicism. Moreover, in Catholicism (and several other denominations of Christianity), they follow the understanding of Angels under Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, in which case they A.) lack the sensitive powers inherent in animal and human souls and because of that B.) lack bodies. The only way the Angels/Demons be able to be at a location in any sort of temporal means would be to possess a temporal host. Other than that, position in space and time is utterly irrelevant to them. Grigori were the exception, but again, not viewed as Canon by the Catholic Church (and they had gender, and sired children. This was one of the reasons behind the great flood, to get rid of them).
  • The B-movie Lost Souls starring Winona Ryder. The filmmakers have admitted to making up the Bible verse that is central to the plot. Not to mention that 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.
  • Likewise, Quentin Tarantino admitted to making up most of Ezekiel 25:17. 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."
  • The Order/The Sin Eater starring Heath Ledger.
  • Stigmata:

 Roger Ebert: "Stigmata" does not know, or care, about the theology involved, and thus becomes peculiarly heretical by confusing 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. This is not the only inaccuracy in the movie, but it's definitely the most egregious example.
  • Legion is what happens when somebody puts the Bible through a paper shredder, haphazardly tapes it back together, and attempts to make a movie out of the resultant book.
  • Constantine
    • 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. This has not been the case since 1997, when the Church decided that people who were mentally ill were not entirely responsible for their actions if they chose to take their own life. 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.
    • When Constantine mentions the "Spear of Destiny" and says "Jesus wasn't killed by crucifixion," the Catholic he's responding to replies with "I know, he was killed by a spear. I paid attention in Sunday School, you know." 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 pretty much 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.
  • Played for laughs in the Poker tournament movie The Grand, where Larry Schwartzman shows up to a table wearing a hijab and claiming to have converted to "Muslam". This was a scare tactic against "Sob Story" Barry Blausteen, an expert at psyching out his opponents who happened to be Jewish.
  • 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 even if he did, at the time their visual appearance had was not 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 ????, which doesn't look like anything upside down.
    • In fact, the actual number in Revelation's original Greek is six hundred and sixteen.
  • The Mummy 1999: Anyone else wondering why the Jewish God is bothering to reenact the ten plagues of Egypt (out of order, no less), for the sake of an Egyptian curse?
    • Egyptian priests were able to duplicate some of the plagues. Though not all the ones shown in the film.
    • Rule of Cool?


  • His Dark Materials, where do we even start? Not only does Pullman tell an outright lie in the 'recommendations' section by claiming that the Catholic Herald demanded that his book should be burnt (See Here for more details or Here for a full copy of the actual article) his portrayal of the Catholic Church (oh, sorry, the Magisterium) as an incredibly evil organisation hell bent on doing bad things, whether they make sense or not, is utterly laughable. As the Herald said in response to the controversy (apologies for the typos - the CH recently digitised their Archive and still has a few copying errors) "Pullman's knowledge of the modem Church, its work, its institutions, its people, appears scanty. His account of Mary's loss of faith is laughable. His experience of Christianity, it would seem, amounts to having read CS Lewis's Namia books for the first time in adulthood." "towards the end of [the third book] a scientist and ex-nun from our Church, our world — not the parallel one — describes her loss of faith: she became an atheist because she met a man she fancied. 'The Christian religion is a very powerful and convincing mistake,' she declares, deriving the nonexistence of God from her own unsuitability for a celibate life with astonishing non-logic. By now, the reader's head is packed with 1,000 pages of dreadful atrocities by the "Magisterium"; and Pullman neatly places the real-world Church into the frame he has built for its other-world caricature." Anyone who knows their fallacies will conclude that Pullman's books add up to one of the biggest Straw Man Arguments the world has ever seen.
    • Pullman is also prone to sliding into propaganda of the sort used in Soviet Russia, for example, having a priest push vodka on a boy (who throws it up) is incredibly similar to their baffling "Christianity causes drunkenness" campaign. It didn't make sense then, and it sure as hell makes no sense now, Christians promote moderate drinking, and always have. - but then again the militant atheists in Russia at the time were keen to blame ALL their social problems on Christianity, even if Christians were helping to keep the problem in check. Suffice to say, priests aren't particularly prone to forcing vodka on children - Pullman simply threw this in to make the priest look evil.
    • And then there is the whole 'convert tribe, strip them of their culture and control them in every way' thing. Never mind the fact that Catholic priests simply don't go about randomly forcing people to adopt their beliefs, or the fact that Catholicism teaches that Christians are beholden to no Earthly authority - i.e., priests don't make up beliefs like 'those wheels are sinful' (especially not when the sole reasoning is that he wants to make the creatures subservient), the plain fact of the matter is that when a missionary priest (and he isn't one) approaches a tribe like that they can ask him to leave, and he has to go! The priest is there only as long as the people want him, he is NOT allowed to force Christianity on them - THEY have to ask! That's right! In actual fact the main point of Missions is humanitarian work, a priest (and often volunteers) will go and build pumps, a hospital, a school, and start teaching people to read. The actual teaching of Christianity happens when the priest asks people if they would like to learn about the faith, the people then come to the priest to find out about Christianity and it is often them who ask for the priest to build a church. Oh yes, and the priest is not there to force another culture on the people or tell them that their current beliefs are wrong - often a missionary will be the only person making sure the local children know their own damn history and culture. The fact that missionary work is some of the hardest and most dangerous on the planet, the fact that missionaries protect the communities they join and are often celebrated by them, and the fact that the mission brings things like sustainable water and food, education, good moral teachings, and hope to billions is entirely lost on Pullman.
      • And those who mention the Spanish missionaries in the Americas... well, it's more complicated than first blush. There was culture clash, certainly, but much of Amerindian culture was preserved by the missionaries (including their language, the better to preach the Gospel), and significant inculturation survives in Latin American Catholicism to this day
  • 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 recently said the theory and religion are not mutually exclusive, and compared to certain protestant sects Catholicism has taken a very moderate stance of the controversy - they were originally neutral on the subject but later came down in favor of it. 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 appear to be without sin yet have never known Christianity: in Real Life, the Vatican recently 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?!)
    • Or, you know, the whole Francisco Ayala thing. What with him being a former priest and famous evolutionary biologist, or Gregor Mendel? You know that guy with peas who pretty much figured out genetics and was a Monk.
    • 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.
  • 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 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.
    • An in-universe case of religious studies failure occurs within the book. Mr. Wednesday asks a random woman, who identifies as pagan, about Easter- and she responds that she doesn't follow that Christian crap, indicating she knows squat about paganism.
  • There're some in-universe examples in Father Brown stories by G. K. Chesterton.
    • In The Blue Cross, a Master of Disguise criminal poses as a Catholic priest; but he makes a grave mistake of talking religion with Father Brown. False priest attacks reason, which is, as Father Brown says, bad theology; that, among other things, helps Father Brown to uncover the disguised criminal.
    • In The Vampire of the Village, there's an Anglican parson, whose behavior is a strange mix of High-Churchman and Low-Churchman traits. Which helps 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.
    • Then there's The God of the Gongs, in which Chesterton randomly decides that there's a form of Voodoo that involves Human Sacrifice (not to mention all the casual racism in that story). People from non-Abrahamic religions didn't get much respect in those stories.
    • Then there is his novel The Man Who Was Thursday, where an anarchist relates that he tried disguising himself as a bishop, but when he entered the drawing room shouting "Down! Down! Presumptuous human reason," people somehow figured out that he was an impostor, since it seems that real bishops don't act like that.
  • 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 imposter? An agent for the terrorists? ...nope. His Sabbath-desecration is not noticed, then or later, in the book.
  • 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.
  • Left Behind is very accurate in its portrayal of the particular flavour of pre-millenial 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 (including but not limited to Catholics, Jews and Atheists) gets the shaft, badly.
  • In Their Eyes Were Watching God, the people of Eatonville claim at one point that any romantic speech has to include references to Isaac meeting Rebecca at the well. Rebecca met Eliezer, Isaac's family servant, at the well; Isaac only met her when Eliezer brought her back to the Holy Land. Possibly this was meant to show the townspeople as being uninformed, as they're generally not the smartest bunch.

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 Christianity are based on earlier religions and folk-lore. 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.
    • 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 a "Wiccan" religion; and one can accept the religion without being an initiated "witch".
    • A particularly bad case was the episode about the warlock/deacon, 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 pagaganism other than Norse or Greco-Roman. And she was burned in Salem. Anyone who frequents TV Tropes knows the drill.
  • Buffy also portrayed Wicca as a way to get magick powers rather than an religion, Lampshaded when Willow ran into a realistic Wicca coven in college and was annoyed with 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.

  • Any time Supernatural goes near religion. Most recently people have complained about the way Christianity and everything associated with it is being presented, but it's always had a bad track record with religion. Check out any episode where they talk about the old Pagan Gods; They Fail Religious Studies Forever by making it seem that there was apparently only one religion ever before Christianity hit the scene. The show just uses the term 'Pagan God' for any "god" of an old polytheistic religion. They specifically say the Trickster exists in Norse and Egyptian mythology, and that the Vanír were Norse gods, too.
    • Lampshaded when Sam corrects a girl in the pilot, after she says that the pentacle is a symbol of Satanism.
    • Recently they had Castiel scold the boys for believing that the Antichrist will be the son of Satan. "Your Bible gets more wrong that it does right," he explains. Except...the Bible never describes the devil having any children. You think an angel would know better.
    • Samhain, that demon it "It's the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester". Samhain is actually the Celtic Sabbath that falls of 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 realise that "Samhain" is also the Irish word for "November", so it wouldn't exactly be difficult to check the pronunciation...
    • 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 down to a certain film in which an angel falls in love with a women and becomes human by, er, jumping off a roof.
  • 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.)
  • The worst example on The X-Files 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 pretty much 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, and "John 52:54" doesn't exist.
  • The new series of Doctor Who fails hard in "The Satan Pit" when it's claimed that in every culture throughout history, horned beings have symbolised evil. Horns were a symbol of potency, fertility and power in many ancient religions and were later demonised by Christian writers because they were so popular amongst the heathens. Ironically, in the Seventies serial "The Daemons", the Doctor actually mentions these varied connotations. "The Daemons", however, has its own failings; it implied that Beltane was a night for evil spirits, when it in fact was a day for purification, transition, and fertility rituals. And even in regards to Christian beliefs, horns are very commonly used as a reference simply to strength or power throughout both the New and Old Testaments—it shows up in the prophecies of David and Revelation, for example, and is a frequent image in the Psalms, where it's used as a reference to God Himself!
  • The first episode of Bones 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.
    • In episode 10 of the 5th season of Bones,Daisy repeatedly clams that it was more likely that Jesus was born in March than December in spite the fact that the Feast of the Annunciation (when the Archangel Gabriel visited Mary and related a certain request to her, and upon her acquiescence conceived the "Eternal Word of God" in her womb.)is usually held on 25 March look at Artistic License - Traditional Christianity for more infomation. SO according to Daisy,Mary had apparently been pregnant with Jesus for a about a YEAR!
  • In the third season of Veronica Mars, Piz starts ranting on his radio show about how even though he is a Catholic school boy, 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 affects of their sins are cleansed.
  • Then there's that episode of Lost ("Fire + Water", I think...) 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. Of course, this can partially be explained by Eko not being a real priest, but actually a drug runner who caused the death of his brother and became a "priest" so that he could atone for his sins. Guess he didn't have much time to learn theology...
  • 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.
  • On the TV miniseries Roots, 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.
  • 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.[2] 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."


  • 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.

Real Life

  • The first Zeitgeist film fails so completely and utterly to get even one fact right that skeptics and atheists turned against it completely.
  • According to urban legend, a Japanese department store put a display of Santa Claus nailed to a cross up for Christmas.
    • Note that the character of Santa Claus[3] takes inspiration from Odin,[4] making this urban legend even more of a failure.[5]
  • Members of many religions are often not familiar with the actual dogma of their churches and thus accept popular culture versions at being doctrine when they are not.
    • Some Catholics are unaware that Catholic doctrine does not disagree with the theory of evolution, but does disagree with the Rapture
    • The devil got the name "Lucifer" from Milton's Paradise Lost; there is no biblical support for him having that name.
    • Limbo was a concept created by Dante in the Divine Comedy; its existence is not doctrine to any church.

Tabletop Roleplaying Games

  • Almost anything in the World of Darkness series, New World of Darkness or Old World of Darkness, is likely to run up against this, although the new system is far better at just inventing new fake religions for characters than trying to ham-handedly wedge actual religion into the games. The Long Night is a good example of one of these made up religions.

Web Comics

  • 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. Outrageous and patently false past lives aren't unheard of among fluffies, either.

Western Animation

  • An episode of The Simpsons 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 in the Land of Nod. While where they came from isn't made clear, this trope is in effect because Flanders' kids basically asked if Cain and Abel had sex with each other and produced children that way, and Flanders' never corrected them. Might be Fridge Brilliance, parodying the fact many American Christians claim to know the Bible to the core when in fact they don't read it much.
    • In another episode, somebody digs up what appears to be an angel's skeleton. Lisa, the skeptic, is the only person to suspect it's fake. All of the other people in town, including Reverend Lovejoy, criticize her for her lack of faith. Except that, according to Christian tradition, angels do not have physical bodies and cannot die. Therefore even those who believe in angels, especially the preacher, should have called it out as a fake from the beginning.
  • 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.
  • Played for laughs in the "Jewbilee" episode of South Park. 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 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 ends. The account of Job actually ends with Job gaining a new family and twice the amount of wealth he had lost (not surprisingly, Kyle's faith is not restored).
    • The episode "Probably (2)" featured everyone going to Hell except for Mormons. Mormons believe that only the truly wicked go to Hell and not because they weren't Mormon. 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.
  • Family Guy does not seem to know the difference between the defined Catholic dogma of purgatory and the theory of limbo. Apparently of their justification for Peter's stereotypes about Jews in the "When You Wish Upon a Weinstein" episode was that much of what Peter knows about his own Catholic faith is stereotypes.
    • Seth MacFarlane is obviously a pretty big fan of Rule of Funny and generally just doesn't care, but his use of Jewish symbols is, unsurprisingly, way off the mark. In at least a couple episodes in 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 The Cleveland Show at one point, in a fantasy cutaway, shows Cleveland reciting Kol Nidre, the Aramaic annulment of vows that begins Yom Kippur, by reading it out of 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).
    • In the episode Friends of Peter G.,Brian makes a passing comment about how people "were fine for thousands of years without religion," we then see 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 wrong.
  • 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.
  • Scooby Doo and the Witch's Ghost had a character identify as one-sixteenth Wiccan, which would make sense if Wicca doubled as an ethnic identity like Judaism, but it doesn't. They also push the age of Wicca back at least to the Salem witch trials, whereas in fact it dates from the 20th century (so to be 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) that she can cast magic, defeating the evil Witch. Oh yes, in this movie, Wiccans are good, and Witches are evil, doesn't everybody know that?

  1. The contradiction between these things is never addressed.
  2. Google it for yourself.
  3. someone traveling the world in a single night
  4. who leads the Wild Hunt, which is said to travel the world in a single night
  5. though Odin did hang himself on The World Tree for eight nights, it's not the same as being executed on Earth