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For some context to my question:

The story I'm currently writing takes place on another planet. It is never mentioned whether Earth exists (or had existed), but the characters are all human, have Earth-based names, and their ancestors are stated to have traveled to this planet at some point in history.

In the first chapter, one of the characters is shown to have a collection of foreign religious texts, but no direct mention is made as to how he obtained them (though his status of nobility could allow him to obtain valuable foreign goods). The texts are heavily implied to be from Abrahamic religions due to their frequent reference of sin, virtue, and angels.

On the planet in which the story takes place, the general population isn't particularly religious and while their speech sometimes alludes to them being polytheistic (often using words such as 'gods' and 'deities'), the religions of their world are never outright told.

Now to my question itself:

Would it be entirely insensitive/offensive to show people on a foreign planet misinterpreting and potentially appropriating Earth religions?

The main characters in the story, in an attempt to ease the 'sins' they've committed, create robot angels that are meant to uphold virtues. Though, their interpretations of right/wrong are sometimes conflicting with those of Abrahamic religions. For example:

  • Idol worship is a common theme as the characters start to view the character who showed them the religious texts as a god himself.
  • While the world's stance on homosexuality is never openly stated, three of the main characters are gay and one is bisexual.
  • The characters seemingly lump together and blend multiple religions together to form their beliefs. Such as Christianity's seven deadly sins and prayer methods from Islam.

I'm fully aware that anything has the potential to offend people, but I'm more so asking if this is more blatantly distasteful than I'm aware. I personally have theist beliefs, but don't affiliate with any religion so I'm not certain how someone part of Abrahamic religions may feel to see their religions interpreted in this way.

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    For what it's worth, I'm an observing Muslim, and If you had your synopsis to elude to the content you described, I'd pick it up in a flash. I have a great interest in learning how others interpret religion, especially out of context as you intend. – iamtowrite Mar 22 at 4:45
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    The religions you mention have themselves appropriated and misinterpreted other cults existing long before them. It would be a tad bit hypocritical for any believer of such faiths to feel offended. – NofP Mar 22 at 10:27
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    I feel like this belongs more on World Building SE. – weakdna says reinstate monica Mar 22 at 12:48
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    @NofP Yup. Christians appropriated all of our holy book, then added a sequel. And they don't even pay royalties. Tsk. RoboticArchangel, you might want to take a look at the Orange Catholic Bible from Dune - it's some weird derivative of most Earth's religions, as I recall. – Galastel supports GoFundMonica Mar 22 at 15:10
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Welcome to writers stack.

You have characters who have books they do not really understand, so they take them literally. Without context, they might not notice that these religions are different.

Provided you do not outright mock religion, I see no disrespect here. You have characters who, since their religion has a pantheon, it makes perfect sense to them to add a few more.

Perhaps I am the wrong person to answer this, but the way you write it will make the difference and prevent it from being offensive. You might even make the gentle point that there is much more common ground in those religions than differences.

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Personally I don't find such premise disgusting but interesting. If you want your decision to be based more on data than opinions I suggest to check out the reviews and reactions regarding "Gnostic Ascension" by Alastair Reynolds. It describes quite insane, made-up religion which is then deformed even more towards complete madness. in some aspects it resembles some or today's religions and their organizational structures. If people were not offended by this (incredible by the way) book you can safely assume that your's won't be received as offensive as well.

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