Currently I have a character in mind of, with religious trauma. And her parents are strict on her, so that she can be a pure child as the religion they follow intended. Now I myself have seen what religious trauma , but I have some recurring issue that might send a harmful message to the readers.

First of all my character has a desire to live a normal life with more freedom to express herself. And by the end of her character arc she has lived a normal life but would it be harmful that by the end she left the religion she followed? I don't want to send the message that religion is bad, but her parents have put so much on her that she doesn't want to do any of the things they wanted or intended. And that she is choosing her own path outside of her parent's desires and the religion. Would that be harmful?


5 Answers 5


If you don't want to give the message that the problem is with religion, then I think you need to make it clear that the blame lies squarely with the parents.

One way you could approach this, is to show that there are other families in that religion that are less strict and more understanding. Perhaps the MC even gets help from them to escape her situation.


I think one of the most important parts of religious trauma is the idea that it isn't the religion that's doing the harm, it's the enforcers. She doesn't necessarily have to leave her religion at the end to get a good ending and if you're afraid it might be harmful to have her leave her religion then I suggest maybe having her still be religious but not follow everything she was taught by her parents that are related to the religion. This way you can show that the religion itself isn't the problem, it's the way some people use the religion that can harm others.

I would like to add that there isn't anything wrong with her leaving her religion at the end as long as the writer doesn't imply that there is something wrong with the religion. Maybe it just works better for her not to follow that religion anymore, and that's completely fine. Just try and be respectful.


You said "I don't want to send the message that religion is bad"... so do you mean "religion" or "THAT religion"... I think a clever answer is right there in your wording. I allow her to discover another religion that DOES call to her and doesn't have the same... issues... that led her parents to damage her. Something adjacent to her existing religion, or something wildly different (humanity has given you an ABUNDANCE of options).

Happens all the time in real life... that way you protect "religion" and her inherent religious inclinations, without empowering this "bad" religion or justifying her parents actions.

  • I see. My issues were about how many will dismiss the idea of religious trauma, as a hate speech against religion. But I think I can sort it out, thank you.
    – Crimsoir
    Commented Feb 20, 2023 at 14:17

Separate religion from faith.

Have the character learn that she can hold on to faith and have a healthy life without the dogma of organized religion.

  • How exactly would you do this? Also, OP said "I don't want to send the message that religion is bad" which this doesn't seem to solve.
    – Laurel
    Commented May 29, 2023 at 11:32

Have a character that makes it clear that one can be a good person and a member of the faith and that the trouble with "religion" she has are people who take it too seriously. As someone who had my own crisis of faith with the Catholic Church, my problem was not with the priests... it was with some of the lay community leaders who were taking things too seriously. I never had a problem with the priests and was good friends with one priest and talked with him about matters of faith as much as matters not of faith. (One of my pet peeves about religion, especially certain sects of Christianity is the evangelicalism or active recruitment of people to your church. I've always gravitated to a more private and quiet relationship with God.).

There are plenty of religious people who are... just people... it's clear that they are into their faith... but they aren't into you being into their faith unless you want to.

I would also, if you fancy a trip to the black hole that is Tvtropes, look up the trope "Jesus was way cool" which is a trope that focuses on the fact that most of the problems with a religion aren't the fault of the divine but the fault of the humans. Some of it is critical of organized religion... but it's from a point that even if you have a problem with a church organizations and rituals, Jesus, as portrayed in the Bible, is still a bad ass and said some pretty important things and was pretty chill. For example, Jesus' first mirical was saving a wedding party by turning water into top shelf wine. How many other religions have a god who's first miracle was "to bring the good shit to keep the party rocking?"

Have a character who can show her that it's okay to have faith... it's okay to be part of a faith... and not be an ass about it. Or more daring, and I know they exists, have a character who doesn't believe in a religion... but still thinks there are some important lessons in the Bible and doesn't discount it as a work of literature (I'm aware of a guy who is not a Christain, but still keeps a picture of Jesus in a place of importance... according to him, Jesus was a guy who went around and helped people and he likes those types of characters.).

Yes, there can be a lot of people who are religious and are jerks. There has always been in every human organization more supply of jerks than demand. Religious institutions are no exception. But for every jerk, there are 10 people who mean well and live their faiths.

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