Worldbuilding Religious Question

. So, I have a story set a few hundred years in the future, where there’s a planet, colonized by humans, that endures a few decades of fundamentalist religious government. I don’t want to use any current religion for that — I don’t want to pick out fundamentalist Christians or Hindus or Muslims or whatever.

I’m sort of envisioning that some new religion / sect that started on Earth gets a real foothold on this colony planet (Solvida) and takes over. I could build something from scratch, but I’m tempted to create something that’s more of a mash-up of a couple different religions, at least as a start, because historically, religions often evolve, I think, with sects breaking off, etc.

I’m not religious myself, but was raised Catholic. I’m trying to figure out if I can do this in a way that’s reasonably respectful. Like, if I make up a new religion that borrows elements from Christianity and Hinduism, is that going to piss people off? (I’m not necessarily opposed to pissing some people off, but I want to do it consciously, not casually, if that makes sense.)

Thoughts? (Esp. interested in thoughts from religious people.)

2 thoughts on “Worldbuilding Religious Question”

  1. LeGuin’s *Paradises Lost* describes the birth of a new religion (“Bliss”), which reminded me of Mormonism. And I could believe a new religion on your planet coming from a Mormon mission going not-quite-Mormon.

  2. As a practicing Catholic who was raised Protestant, I may have a bit more of an ecumenical view of religion than many who are “born & bred” of a particular faith. That said, look to popular culture. Handmaid’s Tale steals elements from early Protestantism yet significantly distorts them to disguise men’s desire for pure power. Other fiction writers, from Orwell to Shirley Jackson, have written about worlds where religions are either entirely suppressed or redesigned to suit literary purpose.

    Within the Protestant tradition, there are thousands of independent churches, many of which have different interpretations of Christianity. Even in modern-day Roman Catholicism, there are schisms regarding core tenets. See the controversy between the USCCB, the Faithful, and the Vatican over the Eucharist as but one example of near-heretical actions.

    I’ve found personally that people who are secure in their faith tend not to be insulted by fictional religions – or other religions generally. Those most sensitive are either highly litigious (e.g. Scientologists which is more of a cult and business than a religion) or highly sensitive (extremists in any faith, though I think of the fatwa issued on Salmon Rushdie).

    The mark of a good fiction writer is the ability to create and shape elements that suit their characters’ stories. If creating a new religion fits with that purpose, have at it! George Lucas certainly did!

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