Book Discussion

Why I Want More Religious Characters In YA (Not Just Christian, But All Religions)

You may or may not know this, but Angelina and I are Christian. Honestly, that doesn’t change anything, or at least it shouldn’t. We are still the same bloggers who started this blog almost two years ago, we’ve been Christian our entire lives. Knowing this shouldn’t change anything :). I’ve just been a bit saddened recently over certain things I’ve been noticing a LOT in not just Young Adult books but in a lot of media. It deals with diversity in a sense, not in race or sexuality or different mentalities, but it deals with the religious side of things.

Maybe you haven’t noticed, or maybe you have, but there is a lack of religious main characters in Young Adult literature. I’m not saying all YA has nonreligious characters, sometimes they never specify, sometimes they do, what I am saying is that it would be nice to see more characters out there of all religions. There is a lack of characters who feel like they believe in God, or Gods, of whatever their religion may be. There is a LARGE quantity of characters I’ve read who either say they don’t believe in God, or would like to think He exists, and sometimes, they even make fun of religious people, although that isn’t common.

I would LOVE to read more about other religions, so I don’t want this to be limited to Christian characters. Wouldn’t it be interesting to read a story through the eyes of someone who is Jewish or Islamic or Mormon or some other religion? I am getting tired to reading only characters who are atheist or agnostic. What I’m NOT saying is get rid of these characters completely, so don’t blow up on me here.Β These characters are important as well, so we shouldn’t erase them. Instead, I think we should find a way to add more religious characters to represent more family types and people types.

So this is kind ofΒ a l0ong-winded post of me going on and on about how I want religious characters OF ALL TYPES. Here is what I think we shouldn’t do when it comes to these characters.

When it comes to these characters, they should be realistic, right? They shouldn’t be over drawn stereotypes (unless that is who they are as a character, cool) but there are different kinds of people. I for one am a Christian who supports the LGBT community, I’m not saying all Christians agree because that is kind of obvious that not everyone agrees. As a mini note as to why I support them: they’re human too. God loves all of his children and we, honestly, shouldn’t hate, doesn’t He say to love our neighbors? Mini note aside, there are different kinds of people in all religions like I mentioned in my example :P. It IS important not to write off a stereotype, ANY stereotype for that matter.

I don’t know about you, but I think it would be a good way to dispel myths about certain religions and help people better understand religious people (and those who aren’t. Again we need these characters too).

So, now that I am done going on my mini rant, what do you think? Should we add more religious characters of ALL types? If no, than why? If yes, than what kind of characters would you like to be represented more often? Have you read many books with religious characters?

*There are MANY types of diversity needed more in literature in general. We also need more characters of other races, family types, sexualities and mentalities. This is just one topic I’d like to see more if to better diversify YA characters, although I would also like all of the above listed!*

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26 thoughts on “Why I Want More Religious Characters In YA (Not Just Christian, But All Religions)

    1. Thank you :)! Agreed, there is SO much more to religion that I think a lot of people are understanding, adding these characters would help dispel so many myths and provide a better understanding :). It would also be cool to read more Jewish characters too :).

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  1. My main character Justice St. Michaels is a religious character. She not only prays when she’s in a tough situation, but she finds out she has Heavenly powers. I wouldn’t call myself a Christian writer, but I think if someone is going to write about angels the characters can at least believe in Him.

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  2. I loved this post!! I think that religious characters would not only show more diversity, but also could educate people who may not be familiar with the religion. It could very much destroy some stereotypes as you said. Many people have many views, and we need to respect all of them.

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    1. Thank you!! Having more religious characters would definitely help educate people more. Just going through school I hear a TON of fake facts about different religions, people aren’t very educated in them at all. Thank you for your opinion and of course, for stopping by :).

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  3. YES PREACH. Strong female characters seem to be all the rage in ya, and while I love them, I’d really love to see any sort of religious representation too. THIS POST IS PERFECT.

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  4. Such a great post!! πŸ˜€
    I definitely agree – I want more religious characters of all different religions!
    If I do see a book with religious characters – those are usually Christian ones, and for me, that doesn’t cut it :/
    I read to learn and to experience different cultures/lives, and it would be great for there to be more religiously diverse books for me to look at and experience πŸ™‚
    Fascinating post! πŸ™‚

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  5. I can’t speak for this because normally any sign of Christianity in books has me choosing another to read immediately — blame the poisonous Christian education in school. But you’re absolutely right, and I would love to see more YA w/ religion, especially those I’m not familiar with. Religious diversity isn’t something we see a lot and it would be interesting to see more, and more done right!

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  6. i LOVE this- “I think it would be a good way to dispel myths about certain religions and help people better understand religious people.” I am a Christian too, and I want to see more religious characters. REALISTIC religious characters. I’m so tired of seeing my religion represented in a way that makes me look like a freak. Most Christians in books, that I’ve noticed, are the quirky side character friend who wears unicorn sweat shirts and tries to evangelize you to death. Like all people, I want to see myself in a book for a change. I 100% agree with you. Writing about all different religions is a great way to see what those religions are about, from a non stereotyped perspective.

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    1. OH MY GOSH YOU GOT THIS SPOT ON XD!! Every time I read about a Christian character, they are stereotypical, I can only imagine this happens of ALL religions too which is sad :(… but I do love unicorn shirts… XD!!

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  7. This is a very interesting discussion. Though I don’t read religious books, I do recognize a lack of faith in YA characters. There are some fantasy books that do create their own religion like one character from Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson or a whole new religion featured in Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes. Although including religion will increase diversity, I think it’s also a sensitive topic. I think that’s the primary reason authors don’t usually include religion.

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    1. True πŸ™‚ those fantasy things are just SO interesting like my goodness, how cool! It is a sensitive topic, I agree, religion and politics really fire people up XD and I do understand why that would make it harder for authors to write about.

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  8. This is so needed in fiction. I’m Mormon and I remember trying to find a murder mystery featuring a main character who was Mormon. When I couldn’t find it at B&N, I was told that they don’t carry religious books. There’s also the Children of the Promise series by Dean Hughes. Mormon characters during WWII. Great series. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it sold in store.

    I’m not bothered by this too much, but I do see the irony that other Christian books are accepted (limitedly) while other branches of Christians (i.e. Mormonism) are not widely accepted. The same thing goes for other cultures. People are so focused on “equality” that I think we don’t realize that in all reality, this equal representation people lobby for is sometimes quite selective.

    Personally, I do understand why religion isn’t really addressed or included a lot of the time. It’s a very personal thing and getting it wrong can be really bad and getting it right can get a lot of bad attention too… but I think that’s why it’s important for people in those faiths to tell those stories. On the other hand, I know I personally am hesitant to write anything like that because I know people don’t care and the second they find out a character is X religion, a book is automatically pegged as religious (which is not always the truth). And, I’ll admit, I want to write about stuff I’m not already doing, but I know there have to be others who would like to write a Mormon character who probably won’t because of this bias.

    No one says, “this character is atheist so this book is only for people who are atheist.” No way. We’d all say that is crazy. Yet, that’s what we do with books that in anyway include more than a passing glance at religion. This character prays and faithfully goes to church (readers: the author is shoving their religion down my throat). Obviously, that’s an extreme reaction, but I’ve seen it done to books with Christian characters. It’s sad. There’s a huge double standard.

    I really hate it when books insult or make fun of other religions because I’ve read books doing it to my own and it’s a terrible feeling. I internally wince when I see it done now.

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    1. TRUUUUUUE! Oh my goodness this comment is perfect :), I understand what you are saying. I get that some people might find religious books preachy, and religion IS a super touchy subject with some people but I would kind of love to read characters from different religions, Mormon and Christian included :O. So many characters have no religion in books and that it 100% fine, BUT I am finding so many books that do make fun of religion and it hurts, it honestly does… But I agree with what you said 1000%, thank you for dropping by!

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    1. Glad I’m not alone on this :), one thing I ADORE about Ms. Marvel is what Marvel did with their new superhero which sounds off topic but hold on XD I’m getting there. The new Marvel superhero is Islamic πŸ˜€ and she is the BEST character of all time, I am in love with what they did for her story. If you like comics I recommend it :), they weren’t afraid to show a bit more about Islamic faith and Ms. Marvel is the BEST.

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  9. I have noticed that for a long time. Usually if a character is religious, it’s almost always portrayed negatively. I realize that it can be a tough subject to interject into fiction, but it’s weird that it’s so ignored. I do have to give props to the amazing Miranda Kenneally and her book Things I Can’t Forget- which not only featured a religion but also abortion.

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    1. That always stinks :/ why is religion portrayed so negatively? It makes me wonder why that is. I know that there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding just about EVERY religion so I was just hoping to inspire others to maybe write religious characters, it would help A LOT. I will have to check out that book πŸ˜€ thank you for stopping by!

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  10. Yes! I love this post. I’m Mormon, and so I notice when religion isn’t really mentioned in books. I can only really think of two reasons why religion isn’t mentioned: (1) The author doesn’t want to offend anybody with an incorrect portrayal or (2) The author doesn’t want to come across as preachy.

    But to be honest, religion is just a part of a teenager’s life like anything else we see in YA lit is. In my YA lit class that I took last semester, my professor actually talked about this, calling it the last taboo of YA literature. Because literally YA books explore everything else. So religion should be something we explore too.

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    1. Thank you :)!! Those two reasons are very valid, I understand why some people are uncomfortable reading/writing about religion BUT it would be nice :(… And you are VERY right, I am Christian and religion is a huge part of who I am, I know some people who spend a lot of time at church in youth groups and so on. I think many religious characters are ofte times written the same exact way which is also weird… And you summed it up perfectly πŸ™‚ religion should be explored too. I know so many other teenagers trying to figure out what they believe if anything, it IS a part of all lives I think, either if you’re religious or not, it is a part of our lives :O it more or less shapes what we do at times. Thank you for stopping by and your wonderful comment πŸ™‚

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