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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Captain America (whose real name is Steve Rogers) is one of the earliest characters in the Marvel Universe, and one of the world's most recognizable super-heroes. Captain America has always been portrayed as a solidly Protestant character. He is a bastion of mainstream American values and "boy-next-door" qualities. Captain America's mainstream religious beliefs, including his faith in God and broadly accepted American religious values, are an integral part of his character.
It was explicitly stated in Ultimates 2 that Captain America attends church every Sunday. This version of the character is part of Marvel's "Ultimate" imprint, and not part of original mainstream Marvel continuity. But the Ultimate Captain America character is a close analogue to the original version of the character. The religious beliefs and religious affiliation of the two versions of the character are essentially the same, but we are unaware of any explicit references within mainstream continuity stating that Captain America attends church services with such frequent regularity.
Owing in large part to the religion taboo which was still operational in the 1960s in the comic book industry and other popular media, Captain America was rarely depicted speaking or acting in an overtly religious manner when he was first reintroduced. But over the decades during which the character has been a mainstay of the Marvel Universe, he has steadily been portrayed expressing faith in God and belief in Christian values enough times to clearly categorize his background as mainstream Protestant.
Captain America's Christian religious affiliation was explicitly addressed during stories written by J. M. DeMatteis relating to Steve's courtship with long-time Jewish girlfriend Bernie Rosenthal. Bernie's very Jewish parents were not happy at all about their daughter dating a Gentile. At one point Bernie talked to Steve about wanting to celebrate both Jewish and Christian holidays with their future children.
Captain America's strong Christian ethical and moral standards extend even to his disapproval of profanity and vulgarity in movies, and his disapproval of nudity in movies. Captain America is sometimes regarded by other super-heroes and comic book readers alike as something of a "Boy Scout." Some people seem to express disdain for Captain America because of his strong values and ideals, but in the Marvel Universe it is more common for people to admire him, even though most people feel they can not live up to his standards.
Captain America had a distinguished run during the 1940s, two decades prior to the creation of the Marvel Universe, which officially began with the publication of Fantastic Four #1 in 1961. Captain America was originally created by Jewish comic book writer Joe Simon and Jewish comic book artist Jack Kirby. Captain America's actual first appearance was in Captain America Comics #1 (March 1941), published by Timely Comics, as Marvel Comics was previously known. There was a significant period during the 1940s (during World War II) when Captain America was the most popular, best-selling comic book character in the United States.
After World War II, Captain America's popularity declined, although there were attempts to revive the character in the 1950s. Captain America has been part of the Marvel Universe since he was re-introduced in Avengers #4, published in March 1964. Mainstream Marvel Universe continuity ignores the 1950s stories of the character, and presents Captain America as a World War II hero who was frozen in an iceberg during an accident toward the end of World War II, and not revived until the Avengers encountered him in 1961.
When Captain America was introduced into Marvel's new "Ultimate" universe in Ultimates #1 (published in 2001), his World War II origin story featured an overtly religious letter that he wrote to his girlfriend just before embarking on the mission during which he was frozen for decades. From: Mark Millar, Ultimates Vol. 1: Super-Human. New York: Marvel Comics Group (2002) [Trade paperback reprint of The Ultimates #1-6]; pg. Chap. 1 (reprinting Ultimates #1), pg. 23.:
All I ever wanted was for us to get married and have kids and buy that little house with the cherry blossom trees on Cedar Street. It breaks my heart to think that you and I might get cheated out of all the tiny joys other people take for granted. But even if we ARE separated for a little while, we've got to remember that God is good and even the most TERRIBLE things happen for the best of REASONS, sweetheart. HEAVEN AND HELL couldn't keep us apart, Gail Richards. I know in my heart that no matter WHAT the future holds... you and I will be together again ONE day. Always and forever, Steve.
Captain America's religious affiliation was mentioned in Newsweek. (Steven Waldman and Michael Kress, "BeliefWatch: Good Fight", published in Newseek, cover-dated 19 June 2006, page 12):
From: Lynn Arave, "Superhero/ Super savior? Religious imagery plentiful; local leaders worry about Superman's morals", published 8 July 2006 in Deseret Morning News (http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,640192870,00.html; viewed 15 May 2007):
The June 19, 2006, issue of Newsweek contained a list of the "suspected" religions of superheroes... Newsweek also listed Spider-Man as a Protestant, The Thing as Jewish, The Hulk as a lapsed Catholic, Daredevil as a Catholic, Batman as a lapsed Catholic or disaffected Episcopalian and Captain America as a Protestant...
The Newsweek article is online at www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13249146/site/newsweek/.
Captain America was one of 33 characters who were identified as the most religious superheroes in the Marvel Universe in Infinity Crusade (June 1993). In this issue, a powerful being who identified herself as "the Goddess" kidnapped the superheroes she had identified as being the most religious active superheroes at the time. The Goddess was a manifestation of the "benevolent" side of Adam Warlock, and she planned to use these heroes in her crusade to rid the galaxy of evil and usher in a new golden age of peace. After these 33 characters had been kidnapped by the Goddess, the remaining superheroes gathered to try to figure out what was going on. The Vision analyzed data about who had been taken and who had not, and explained his analysis (Infinity Crusade #1, page 32):
Now that the appropriate files have been examined I believe I have sufficient hard data to put forth that theory I mentioned earlier. I feel confident I know why these particular paranormals were abducted. All the missing share a common trait or experience... An event or attitude that might be categorized as religious. Many among the missing hold deeply felt moral stands or intense spiritual belief systems. Those who do not fit that profile have all had after-death experiences... My theory does not hold that these attitudes aided in the missing individual's abduction, only that these traits may have determined who would be taken.
Selections from: Steven M. Bergson, "Jewish Comics: A Select Bibliography" last updated 28 June 2005 (http://www.geocities.com/safran-can/JWISHC.HTM; viewed 23 December 2005):
McKenzie, Roger. "The Calypso Connection" Captain America #245 (1st series) (NY: Marvel)
Anna Kapplebaum, thinking back to the Holocaust while in a butcher shop, recalls how she was forced to play in a band at Diebenwald, while her people died. She also recalls her fight with the camp doctor - Klaus Mendelhaus (also called "Menhaus"). She awakens from her flashback when she accidentally bumps into a man she realizes is Mendelhaus and faints. At the hospital, she is visited by Nazi-hunters Aaron and Marie Heller. They tell her that they are tracking Mendelhaus down. Mendelhaus and Kapplebaum are both kidnapped by neo-Nazis who plan to establish a new Nazi regime in South America. Mendelhaus, who can't recall Anna's name, tells her that he's as much a prisoner as she is. When Aaron tries to rescue Anna (accompanied by Marie and superhero Captain America), he has a heart attack, but is saved by Mendelhaus. Anna threatens to shoot Mendelhaus, but decides not to after he asks for forgiveness and remembers her name. Instead, he ends up killed by Marie.
Personally, I found this issues troublesome, as it misrepresents Nazi hunters who seek "justice not vengeance" (in the words of Simon Wiesenthal) and who try to bring Nazis to trial. The story suggests that Nazis are remorseful, although to date, Albert Speer is the only Nazi to even admit that he was responsible for his actions. The story also suggests that Jews are wrong to want revenge on Nazis (Captain America says condescendingly at the end "it will never be over until we learn to temper justice with mercy").
Captain America attends church every Sunday
In the Ultimate Marvel universe, the fact that Dr. Bruce Banner was actually the Hulk was a closely guarded government secret, until the information was leaked to the press. Thinking that Thor had leaked this information, Captain America confronted him. Thor proclaimed his innocence, but then suggested that maybe it was his evil Asgardian half-brother Loki who leaked the information. Captain America, like essentially everyone else in the Ultimate Universe, does not believe that Thor is actually a Norse god. Thor clearly believes that he is the real Norse god of Norse/Teutonic legend. When Captain America tells Thor to "shut up," Thor attempts to protest that his own beliefs are no stranger than Captain America attending church every Sunday.
From: The Ultimates 2 #2, Marvel Entertainment Group: New York (2005); reprinted in The Ultimates 2 Volume 1: Gods and Monsters (2005); written by Mark Millar, pencilled by Bryan Hitch; inked by Paul Neary; page 17:
[Before Thor stopped them, people at the club he was in were throwing their drinks on Captain America.]
Thor: Are you okay, Rogers?
Captain America (Steve Rogers): Fine, but some of your friends here could use a little lesson in manners . . .
Thor: Listen, I'm sorry about this. I really didn't want that to happen and I'm serious when I said I'd nothing to do with outing Banner. That said, I think I know who might have released those files.
Captain America: Who?
Thor: My evil half-brother, Loki. A messenger from Asgard came to warn me that he escaped from his bonds again and journeyed to Midgard to do everything he could to--
Captain America: Thor, please.
Captain America: Just shut up.
Thor: You go to church every Sunday, Captain. What I've got to say's no stranger than that.
Despite the fact that Thor says his beliefs are no stranger than Captain America going to church, there was strong evidence that Ultimate Thor at this point that was completely delusional. Thor refers in this scene to a "messenger from Asgard" telling him about Loki's escape. However, in the previous issue, Thor's "meeting" with this messenger was shown to take place in a restaurant. Thor spent five minutes thinking he was conversing with Volstagg, until a waiter pointed out that he was talking to himself and there was nobody else at the table. Captain America shared the belief of all of his colleagues that Ultimate Thor, a former psychiatric patient, was delusional.
From: Steven Waldman and Michael Kress, "Beliefwatch: Good Fight", published in Newsweek, 19 June 2006 issue (posted online on 12 June 2006: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13249146/site/newsweek/; simultaneously posted on BeliefNet.com under headline "Holy Superheroes": http://www.beliefnet.com/story/193/story_19306_1.html; viewed 14 June 2006):
...[Adherents.com] says "X-Men"'s Rogue is Southern Baptist, Cypher from "New Mutants" is a Mormon and Elektra from "Daredevil" is Greek Orthodox. Captain America is a churchgoer, and Spider-Man sometimes addresses God in spontaneous prayer...
Other examples of Ultimate Captain America's religious devotion and moral standards
As the scene below demonstrates, Captain America is devoted to the strong Christian values and ethics he was raised with prior to World War II. In the Ultimate Marvel universe, Captian America attends church every Sunday. His behavior is not always perfectly in keeping with Biblical standards of morality, however. Despite his obvious disapproval of profanity, vulgarity and nudity in modern movies, Captain America is dating a married woman - his teammate, the Wasp, who is estranged from her husband. Exactly what is involved in their "dating" with regards to physical intimacy is not entirely clear. Given Steve's strong traditional values and his obvious anger at the Wasp being labelled an "adulteress" by an editorial writer, it might seem possible that no physical "adultery" is involved in their relationship. But even the semblance of impropriety and platonic dating are behaviors that Captain America's church probably preaches against. Furthermore, other issues of The Ultimates comic book series clearly show that Captain America and the Wasp began living together as a couple without being married. Possibly Steve Rogers belongs to an Episcopalian, Congregationalist or other church with "liberal" views on sexual morality, or possibly there is simply a disconnect between the teachings of his church and his own behavior.
Captain America disapproves of nudity and vulgar and profane language in movies. [Source: The Ultimates 2 #1, Marvel Entertainment Group: New York (2005); reprinted in The Ultimates 2 Volume 1: Gods and Monsters (2005); written by Mark Millar, pencilled by Bryan Hitch; inked by Paul Neary; page 11.]
From: The Ultimates 2 #1, Marvel Entertainment Group: New York (2005); reprinted in The Ultimates 2 Volume 1: Gods and Monsters (2005); written by Mark Millar, pencilled by Bryan Hitch; inked by Paul Neary; pages 11-12:
The Wasp (Janet Van Dyne Pym): Well, it wasn't as good as the Japanese version, but it was still pretty slick. You realize Gere's actually made two good movies in a row this year? Isn't that some kinda record?
Captain America (Steve Rogers): I'll take your word for it, Jan, but what's the deal with all that potty-mouth stuff, huh? Why does every movie these days have to feel like a sailor wrote the script?
Wasp: It's just realistic, Steve. Even you curse sometimes.
Captain America: Yeah, but I don't need to hear it every time I go to the flicks. Likewise, these dames don't need to show me everything they got just because I paid ten bucks for a ticket.
Wasp: Steve, c'mon. This was the safest movie doing the rounds right now. You've killed guys with your bare hands, for God's sake. Don't make us go and see the Sponge Bob movie.
Captain America: Ah, I don't mean to be a grouch. It's just that stuff they were saying in the papers this morning. I couldn't stop thinking about it the whole time I was sitting in there.
Wasp: Listen, don't even get me started, honey. Just the idea of you out there risking your life for those people and then coming home to find all these idiots taking you apart . . .
Captain America: Actually, that wasn't the stuff that annoyed me, Jan. I couldn't give a damn what they're saying about me. It's what they're saying about you that's driving me nuts. I mean, six months ago that crackerjack in the New York Times had me down as Man of the Year and now he's written this whole editorial about you being an adulteress. I swear to God, if this creep wasn't wearing glasses . . .
Wasp: We're public figures now, sweetheart. This is the flipside of all those ticker-tape parades and big gala dinners they invite us to.
Captain America: Yeah, I know, bu snapping pictures of you coming out of my apartment, zoom-lens shojts of us walking the dog . . .
Wasp: You're Captain America, Steve, and you're dating a married woman who also happens to be The Wasp. Did you really think people weren't going to be interested?
Captain America: I thought they'd maybe show a little more restraint.
Wasp: Welcome to the 21st Century, baby.
Captain America: Sorry. Am I ranting again?
Wasp: Well, at least you stopped before you started moaning about body-piercings and women with tattoos.
From: The Ultimates 2 #4, Marvel Entertainment Group: New York (2005); reprinted in The Ultimates 2 Volume 1: Gods and Monsters (2005); written by Mark Millar, pencilled by Bryan Hitch; inked by Paul Neary; pages 3-4:
The Wasp and Captain America are in an old run-down gym.]
The Wasp (Janet Van Dyne Pym): Steve, what the hell are you doing in this dump? There's sweat stains on the carpet as old as my mother.
Captain America: Just goes to show people actually work out down here, Jan. I hate all those other gyms with their iPods and their MTV and their stupid, overpriced isotonoic drinks.
Wasp: The Triskelion has a ten million dollar sports facility and you're paying ten bucks an hour to hang around something that looks like a prison workout room?
Captain America: This place has been here since the thirties, honey. I used to pass it every day on the way to my old job at the bakery. You've no idea how much it means to be a member now.
Wasp: Yeah, well. Just remember to shower before you come home. We're going to Hawkeye's place for dinner tonight. Tony and Natasha are maybe coming too and Wanda and Pietro just called to say they were definite.
Captain America: Not tonight. We're going to that ballroom dancing thing with Bucky and Gail.
Wasp: Oh, God. I forgot about that. Can't we put them off?
Captain America: I already bought tickets and booked the cars. You can't put them off. Bucky's been looking forward to this for ages. Gail bought a new dress and had her hair done this afternoon.
Wasp: Oh, jeez. It's not that I don't want to go or anything. I mean, Bucky and Gail are hilarious, but . . . Well, don't you think it might be nice to hang out with someone our own age every once in a while?
Captain America: What are you talking about, baby? Bucky and Gail were a year behind me at school.
From: Thomas Tracy, "Spidey's webs have Jewish roots", published 21 May 2007 in Fort Greene/Clinton Hill Courier (http://www.courierlife.net/site/tab10.cfm?newsid=18369761&BRD=2384&PAG=461&dept_id=552856&rfi=6; viewed 21 May 2007):
...Rabbi Simcha Weinstein, author of "Up, Up, And Oy Vey! How Jewish History, Culture and Values Shaped the Comic Book Superhero." ...Weinstein, founder of the Jewish Student Foundation of Downtown Brooklyn and currently a rabbi for both Pratt Institute and Long Island College Hospital...
But Spider-Man is not the only comic book character to be infused with Jewish values.
Superman, Captain America, the Spirit, Batman and the Incredible Hulk (who Weinstein calls a gamma-radiated golem) all have Jewish themes woven into their masks, capes and cowls and - in the Hulk's case - loincloths.
"Up, Up and Oy Vey" is not meant to lay claim to America's favorite heroes as Jewish, but instead wishes to celebrate an open dialogue, Weinstein said.
"Superheroes are a mixture of religious beliefs and pop culture," said Weinstein. "They're a great way to break down boundaries."
From: "New Joe Fridays: Week 49" forum discussion, started 1 June 2007 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=114952&page=5; viewed 8 June 2007):
06-03-2007, 04:58 AM
You brought up the issue of comic-book stereotypes and religions. Since I study religion (all kinds, really) this is something I've thought about a lot...
So, on to religion. What religions do we find represented in Marvel? ...Mainstream religions were generally unmentioned before the 1990's (though we do find Cap consulting the New Testament for inspiration during the 1970's...
From: "What religion do superhero's belong to? [sic]" forum discussion started 18 July 2002 on "Toon Zone" website (http://forums.toonzone.net/showthread.php?t=41332; viewed 21 May 2007):
07-18-2002, 01:02 PM
What religion do superhero's [sic] belong to?
I'd like to discuss what religious beliefs are favorite costumed hero's belong to. Everyone knows Daredevil is Catholic. But beyond that, what do we know of superhero's beliefs? I'm thinking of mostly the Marvel Universe, but you DC fans feel free to contribute as well...
I think Peter Parker and Stever Rogers, (Spidey and Capt. America) are New York Protestants born and raised. Peter may be a lapsed church goer, but I always got the feeling that if Steve Rogers could find more time, he'd be in church every Sunday. By the way, what is the major Protestant religion of NYC? Out of curiosity? ...
07-18-2002, 01:30 PM
This is a discussion I've had several times with my friends, and usually I step out of it when it turns offensive. (Which with my friends, it always does!) Thing to remember though that until recently, like the past decade, religion and talks of such were verboten in most main stream comic books. Now that's changed...
Peter [i.e., Spider-Man] is probably Protestant, and Steve Rogers I believe was raised Catholic but later supports his own self-styled beliefs...
From: "Religious Inclinations of heroes" message board, started 1 March 2005 on StarDestroyer.net website (http://bbs.stardestroyer.net/viewtopic.php?t=63632&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=25; viewed 8 June 2006):
Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 6:38 pm
Post subject: Religious Inclinations of heroes
What about other heroes? I notice religion rarely plays a part in mainstream superhero comics (absent things like the Vertigo line) but have you ever picked up on hints or outright admissions by some heroes as to their religious inclinations?
Seems that atheistic heroes are as rare in comics as in real life. If they are religious it's a sort Judaeo-Christian wishy washy sort of religion... Any other examples of guesses?
Posted: Sun Mar 20, 2005 12:01 am
...Captain America (Ultimate one) goes to church weekly, so he's a Christian by standard definition also...
From: Steve, "Religion and super heroes", posted 16 June 2006 on "Making a Long Story Longer" blog website (http://www.moodyloner.net/2006/06/religion-and-super-heroes.html; viewed 16 June 2006):
Here is an interesting list of Super Heroes by religious affiliation [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html].
Least surprising: Captain America - a Protestant, no shocker there.
Most surprising: The Thing - Jewish!
From: "Separation of Church and Cap" message board started 9 May 2006 on Comic Book Resources website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/showthread.php?p=3084993; viewed 22 May 2006):
05-09-2006, 01:40 PM
So, reading some old Avengers mags, I noticed that Cap says things like "Oh Lord" and "God rest his soul" a few times. No big deal, it was the 60's, right? And even today, those are popular expressions. But in recent comics, the good captain has been damning quite a few people to Hell, and in Civil War #1 he tells the pilot who screams "JEEZUS!" to watch his potty mouth. [i.e., Cap chastises the pilot for using profanity.] In recent years, there have been story arcs that address the seperation of Cap and state, but what are his views on religion? What types of religious situations has Cap been part of over the years, and do you think that there should be a seperation between religion and Captain America?
05-09-2006, 01:58 PM
The guy's born in the what, 1920's?
I wouldn't be surprised if he said grace before eating and made the "- Vade Retro! Kss! Kss!" sign whenever Daredevil comes by.
It was a different time.
05-09-2006, 02:10 PM
Eh, maybe I'm wrong but I got the feeling Cap said that to the pilot a little tongue in cheek.
05-09-2006, 02:36 PM
Not possible. The Super Soldier Serum erased Cap's sense of humour.
05-09-2006, 02:36 PM
He's a comic book character. He doesn't have a religion!
05-09-2006, 07:14 PM
LIke an earlier poster said, Cap was born around 1920. He was then frozen for a good portion of his life. I think that he probably is a rather religious guy. God, country and apple pie and all that good stuff.
Plus, I think a lot of it has to do with Millar being the writer. Millar wrote Cap very similarly to his Ultimate version of Captain America. The Ultimate version is very old fashioned and is probably religious.
I like to think that Cap was serious. It made me chuckle. What other super hero would say such a thing?
05-09-2006, 07:45 PM
Millar's church scenes are awesome. They convey a real seriousness to them.
05-09-2006, 08:16 PM
I'm pretty new to comic books so I couldn't give examples, but Cap seems to be more spiritual than deeply religious. This site says Protestant: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html
05-09-2006, 08:24 PM
It's worth noting that in Infinity Crusade, when the Goddess took control over the best of Marvel's religious heroes, Cap was among them.
05-10-2006, 03:11 AM
Admittedly, a lot of people during the depression swore like sailors. Assuming "A long time ago" means "Speaks with less profanity" is somewhat incorrect I'd say.
05-10-2006, 06:18 AM
Good point. Cursing has been popular for a long time. I was connecting him born in the 1920's with his religious tendencies rather than his cursing. I think that Cap is just "old fashioned" in that manner. At least, Millar has always written him that way.
05-13-2006, 05:42 PM
I'm pretty sure Cap says grace before meals. I couldn't tell you the exact issue, but I seem to remember him saying grace when dining with a family early on in Gruenwald's run on the book. Of course, I haven't read those issues in years, so I could be wrong.
From: comments page about Adherents.com's "Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters" section on StumbleUpon.com website (http://www.stumbleupon.com/urlarchive/10/www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html; viewed 10 May 2006):
by thaddeus, Mar 21, 2:34pm
I appreciate the amount of work this guy has done to collect this archive and comic books were a big part of my life growing up... Why is that Captain America's work ethic and strong moral compass make him a Protestant? I have those same values, partly learned from Captain America and I'm an atheist. There seems to be this assumption that religious (at least Christian) affiliation or spirituality equates with morality. What the [expletive]?
[Captain America has been identified as a Protestant on our website because he has explicitly identified himself as a Christian in the comics in which he has appeared, and he has been identified as a Protestant Christian numerous times -- through dialogue, narration, imagery, etc., -- in many published Marvel comics stories. Our website never attempts to identify the religious affiliation of characters based on their personal morality. Pointing out (as this page does) that Captain America is an example of strong moral values is not the same thing as claiming that Captain America can be identified as a Christian because of his strong moral values. There is certainly nothing wrong with Thaddeus (a self-avowed atheist, who uses a picture of a red devil's head as his personal avatar/icon on the StumbleUpon.com website) drawing inspiration from Captain America. But Thaddeus is evidently bringing some baggage into his critique. He is seeing things in our site that simply aren't there, but which he evidently feels defensive about. Anybody (Christian, atheist, or otherwise) can find inspiration in Captain America regardless of the character's religious affiliation. But to suggest that Captain America may be an atheist is to ignore 60 years of published characterization in favor of one's personal preferences or agenda.]
From: "Religious Beliefs of Marvel Characters" discussion board started 20 October 2004 on Comic-Forum.com website (http://www.comic-forum.com/marvel/Religious_beliefs_of_Marvel_characters_397905.html; viewed 8 June 2006):
Date: 20 Oct 2004 21:55:56
Subject: Religious beliefs of Marvel characters?
Does anybody know the religious beliefs of various characters? ...I suppose the only DC character I'm curious about is Superman. One would think that with the whole "God and country" theme commonly associated with Supes and Captain America they would be Christian, but I've never seen that theory documented in the comics.
Date: 20 Oct 2004 23:02:28
From: The Black Guardian
All I know is the last one [Magneto]: Judaism. Most of the rest are probably various denominations of Christian.
Date: 20 Oct 2004 23:16:20
From: Samy Merchi
Barring any actual solid evidence in the characters' own books, you could always fall back on the Infinity Crusade and see which sides the characters were on in that conflict. Anybody feel like whipping those issues out and checking these specific characters?
Date: 21 Oct 2004 03:52:34
From: The Black Guardian
Anyway, here's the list of those who "faithfully served" the Goddess: Captain America, Jamie Madrox the Multiple Man, Jean Grey, Namorita, Silhouette, Spider-Man, Puck, Archangel, the Inhuman Crystal, Firelord, Hercules, Shaman, Talisman, Moondragon, Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, the Silver Surfer, Sersi, the Living Lightning, Thor, the Invisible Woman, USAgent, Moon Knight, Wolfsbane, Doctor Strange, Wonder Man, Daredevil, the Black Knight, Windshear, Sasquatch, Storm, Gamora, Sleepwalker.
IIRC, even if you read the crossover, it's still pretty vague in what religions the heroes believed.
Date: 21 Oct 2004 21:06:41
From: Matt Deres
At the risk to my sanity, I've dug out that series [Infinity Crusade] to investigate...
When Goddess actually comes to collect everyone, she just appears as herself. When she gets Captain America, there is a flag in the background, but it's just a poster or other wall adornment.
Date: 21 Oct 2004 15:19:09
From: Paul O'Brien
Given his [Captain America's] background, it would be pretty astonishing if he wasn't Christian.
From: "Claremont's 'Revenge' / CC Trademarks" thread on rec.arts.comics.marvel.xbooks newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.marvel.xbooks/browse_thread/thread/b6c76ad39ebedbac/82cfea80ebc7bade; viewed 12 June 2006):
From: Thomas Wilde
Date: Fri, May 15 1998 12:00 am
re: "Does anyone have any other instances of positive (or negative) portrayals of religion in comics?"
Well, there's Bonita "Firebird" Juarez, who's a fervent Christian and shows up occasionally in Avengers... Captain America, although that's rarely touched upon... The more I think about it, the more religious characters don't really tend to lend themselves to comics. Turning the other cheek doesn't exactly make for a hell of a good adventure story.
From: Aaron, "Hero worship", posted 16 June 2006 on "Two or Three.net" blog website (http://www.twoorthree.net/2006/06/hero_worship.html; viewed 16 June 2006):
What religion is your favorite comic book character? Here is an interesting list [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html] that explores the faith of superheroes, supervillians and other well-known comic characters... Many of the most well-known are simply generic Protestants (Spiderman, Captain America, Cyclops)...
From: "Any Christian Superheroes?" thread began 22 April 2004 on rec.arts.comics.dc.universe newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.dc.universe/browse_thread/thread/4e5839f075fecf76/394c4ad930a0e68c; viewed 20 June 2006):
From: Gustavo Wombat
Date: Thurs, Apr 22 2004 12:03 pm
I can't think of any major superheroes that strongly believe in any real faith, and that surprises me. Certainly not in the DC Universe. I think there are more minority superheroes than religious ones...
Date: Fri, Apr 23 2004 4:01 pm
...Captain America has been generic Christian and Jewish or agnostic depending on the writer at the time.
On a related side note: I'm amazed at how few characters/heroes have been motivated by their faith especially a Christian faith. One of the main tenents of the Christian faith is loving and helping others. Since heroes do that (help others) I would think more would have the "why do they do what they do" being part their faith. Also, as a Christian, one of the things we are taught is we all have "talents" or gifts from God, and what we do with those talents is our gift back to God. I would think some "heroes" would use their super powered gifts as gifts back to God.
From: Abby Scott, "Complete with Utility Belt Carrying a Calculator and Ennui," posted 22 June 2006 on "Abby Scott does tend to go on" blog website (http://abbyscott.blogspot.com/2006/06/complete-with-utility-belt-carrying.html; viewed 22 June 2006):
From: "Atheist superheroes?" thread, started 21 September 1999 on rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe/browse_thread/thread/e8d686f0b20944a6/2f9353e0760b00e7; viewed 22 June 2006):
I grew up in a strong atheistic tradition...
The above is a link to a list of the religions of many of our comic book heroes. Quite cool, actually.
Superman? Methodist. Makes sense...
Captain America? Protestant. Duh.
From: Andrew Furdell
Date: Tues, Sep 21 1999 12:00 am
By the way, once I read a comic where someone asked Cap what his religion was. I think he said he didn't affiliate himself with any church... How very U.S. government of him.
From: Doug Tonks, "A Higher Power", posted 22 October 2006 on "All New! All Different! Howling Curmudgeons: Two-Fisted Comics Commentary and Criticism!" blog website (http://www.whiterose.org/howlingcurmudgeons/archives/009995.html; viewed 25 April 2007):
The never-identified but usually heeded "they" claim that there are two topics you should never talk about: religion and politics. But since Mike already brought up religion [link to: http://www.whiterose.org/howlingcurmudgeons/archives/009992.html], I'll follow it up with a link to this page [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html], which lists the religious affiliations of various comic book characters. Many of the religious identifications are backed up with lengthy supporting arguments, but some of the more minor characters get little or nothing in the way of explanation.
Some of them are not too surprising: ...Spider-Man is Protestant, although a specific denomination is not identified; ...Captain America, like Spider-Man, nondenominationally identified Protestant...
Posted by Doug at October 22, 2006 7:12 PM
From: Keiichi, "Religion, politics and super heroes", posted 13 May 2007 on "Minitokyo" blog website (http://forum.minitokyo.net/thread/56752/religion-politics-super-heroes/1/#p1215679; viewed 28 May 2007):
Now with the Spidey hype, I was looking for info about our friendly neighbor and I found an article about the superheroes' religions here: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/SpiderMan.html
...As for Tony Stark, I think that his church is Wall Street, his god is The Money and he is probably Republican. But surprise, surprise, Captain America maybe is Democrat... and Protestant. Superman... Methodist and probably Republican too.
From: "Atheist representation on the Avengers" forum discussion started 20 June 2001 on "Comic Boards" website (http://www.comicboards.com/avengers/view.php?trd=010620110715; viewed 24 May 2007):
Posted by Jae on Wednesday, June 20 2001 at 11:07:15 GMT
Atheist representation on the Avengers
The teams pretty well rounded now, but are there any atheistic members?...
Posted by D-Man on Wednesday, June 20 2001 at 20:10:53 GMT
...Probably the best comic you could find to figure out who believes in a god or a god, or have deep faith in God or a god would be:
The Goddess uses the heroes' faith and belief in gods and such to recruit heroes.
Here are a list of Avengers who are "believers" so are recruited by the Goddess:
Posted by Taxman on Wednesday, June 20 2001 at 14:17:36 GMT
I just dug up some back issues of "Infinity Crusade"...
...I think that it is pretty safe to assume that none of the Crusaders [i.e., people chosen by the Goddess] are atheists...
Posted by Ian Watson on Wednesday, June 20 2001 at 13:20:26 GMT]
...But Cap has been shown to have Christian beliefs, which is consistent with his poor 1930s New York upbringing to an Irish(?) American family. These were never illustrated more strongly than in the powerful attached scene from Avengers #113...
Posted by The Scientific Adventurer on Wednesday, June 20 2001 at 14:29:05 GMT
Now this is interesting. Most would probably assume that Cap would be Protestant, being that Cap is supposed to be the quissential American and Protestant Christianity is the majority religion(s) in the USA. However, if Cap is indeed from a poor, Irish, New York background, then it is highly likely he would be Catholic, making Cap in some sense a minority particularly during the time he was growing up.
Steve Rogers' Early Years
Most of the good stuff on Cap's childhood comes from Stern's all-too-short but defining run on Cap's title a long time ago. We know that Cap's patriotism was inspired by a particular schoolteacher, for example.
We also know that Cap's father (who during the 90's was of course alcoholic and abusive) died early, that his mother took in washing to make ends meet, and worked herself to death while Steve was still in his teens to to give her son a chance. We know that young Steve Rogers had a love of fantasy stories and got picked on by other kids for liking to draw.
There's nothing to suggest what denomination Steve was, but plenty of other detail that writers of Captain America as "the generic American hero" so often fail to appreciate.
Posted by The Scientific Adventurer on Wednesday, June 20 2001 at 17:59:03 GMT
Thanks, being only thoughrouly familar with Avengers history, I didn't know any of that. I suppose Cap being born poor alludes to the concept of social mobility, which is the centerpiece of the American Dream. But I'm just curious, why did you venture that Cap was Irish?
Posted by Ian Watson on Wednesday, June 20 2001 at 18:42:05 GMT
Ah well, that's whey I put the original (?) when I said Irish (?) American. I was vaguely remembering some occasion which had suggested Rogers mother (Sarah) or maternal grandmother was Irish, but perhaps I was "misremembering" as I have been known to do. We know the Rogers go back to the time of the War of Independence on Cap's father's (Joseph's) side, since we've seen a Captain Rogers in action back then.
If I get some time to venture into my comics room later this week I'll see if I can hunt down a reference. If anyone else wants to do so then they should perhaps start with the Stern/Byrne issue (circa Cap # 247?) where Cap retrieves his original shield and army footlocker from storage and discovers that his previous memories of being Washington-born Steven Grant Rogers are fake.
New Yorkers might also want to comment on the likely ethnic background of a 1930's Brooklyn lad.
Posted by Gareth Dugdale on Thursday, June 21 2001 at 12:13:30 GMT
Isn't Rogers an Irish Name?
Posted by Ian Watson on Thursday, June 21 2001 at 15:45:51 GMT
I'm not sure that it is especially Irish, but it IS common through the whole of the UK, including Scotland and England and to a lesser degree Wales.
I don't think there's much evidence to support the Rogers genaelogy. We have seen an ancestor of Cap's thwart an ancestor of William Taurey's, which means that the Rogers side of the family were in America before it was the United States. Lots of English, French, Irish, and Scots were amongst the early pioneers.
These early pioneers were often persecuted religious minorities (one reason so many Irish catholics fled to America), and so theoretically Steve's family could traditionally be anything from Protestant or Catholic to Methodist, Quaker, or Baptist. At different times all of these fled the shores of Britain for the sanctuary of the New World.
Another factor is the similar blonde hair and aryan face that Steve Rogers and his Independence War counterpart share, which suggests a Celtic, Saxon, or Nordic background rather than a Latin or Eastern European one.
Let's just say that America is a great melting pot of nations, shall we?
Posted by Jason Grote on Wednesday, June 20 2001 at 19:48:12 GMT
The likely ethnic background of a 1930s Brooklyn lad... Welp... Irish, Italian, or Jewish. And the fact is that Cap, like most golden age comic book characters, was created by Jews who wanted to make war on the Nazis (not a very popular idea before 12/7/41) look patrotic. Of course, most of the publishers, while Jewish themselves, were extremely nervous at the prospect of overtly Jewish or even anti-Nazi characters-- Marty Goodman, the publisher at Timely, received death threats for having the Torch and Namor fight Nazis before WWII broke out. So I can't speak to Cap's current ethnic group, but when he was created, he was a Jewish fantasy of a savior WASP [i.e., "White Anglo-Saxon Protestant"]. An Irish-Catholic progressive along the lines of Al Smith (sans the NY political machine of the time) seems realistic enough to me. Maybe he's Polish-- the family name started out as Rozcerskowicz.
For more info on the sociology of Golden Age comics, I highly recommend the Pulitzer-winning THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND CLAY, a novel whose heroes are in part modeled after Will Eisner, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Gil Kane, and Franz Kafka.
Posted by The Scientific Adventurer on Thursday, June 21 2001 at 10:29:59 GMT
As a Brooklynite (or more recently Staten Islander) myself, I would probably assume that a guy named Steve Rogers I met on the corner was Irish. However I do agree with you that Kirby and Simon, despite being Jewish and no doubt growing up around other ethnic groups, probably intended Cap to be an "American" hero with a non-descript ethnic and hence religious background.
Indeed this seems to be the case of all New Yorker superheroes, with the notable exception of Daredevil.
Posted by Moondragon on Thursday, June 21 2001 at 04:46:05 GMT
Some wild speculations...
(1) "Irish" could be a misremembered form of "Scotch-Irish," which is what Americans call Ulster Scots. And anyway this is only one...what is it, a grandmother? That leaves a bunch more, and the general U.S. odds favor Protestantism. But then there's the Brooklyn thing...
(2) Given the Avengers' location, one would expect about one-quarter Jewish and one-half Catholic representation. Really! But a lapsed, ethnic Catholic would be at least as likely as a gung-ho believer like Firebird. I don't know what the proportions were in the 1920's when Cap was born, but the odds of him being Catholic based on that should be at least 50-50, probably more.
(3) On the other hand, Cap if Catholic comes from a time before Vatican II. He may not identify much with the church as it is today.
(4) Given the times he grew up in, it would have been easier to be religious without making a big deal out of it--in other words, for Cap to be a believing Christian of some sort without being terribly interested in religion.
(5) Or he may have adopted or inherited a religion different from what his ethnicity would suggest. For example, Christian Science was big back then--and this would fit well with what little we've seen of his theology! Mormonism would be an even more daring identity and would suit him well, though you'd think we'd have heard about it from him by now. Kurt [i.e., Kurt Busiek, who was at this time the writer of The Avengers and apparently a regular poster on this message board as well], I dare you to show him reading Doctrines and Covenants, or Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures! (Or, What Is Triunology?)
Posted by Jae on Wednesday, June 20 2001 at 13:41:05 GMT
...I assumed Cap was Christian, it just fits his character profile...
Re: Atheist representation on the Avengers
In my opinion, this issue is pretty well addressed in the 'Infinity Crusade.' The whole premise of the story divides all of the major Marvel heroes into "crusaders," and "infidels." The infidels were not necessarily dyed-in-the-wool atheist per say, but they did not have the faith required to be influenced by the powers of the villain (Goddess was it?).
I cannot remember how it all broke down that well, but the infidels included the scientific like Richards, and Iron Man, and hard cases like Wolverine and the Hulk. In general it seems that females were much more likely to be crusaders, and I am sure that the Black Knight, and Cap were amongst them. When the crusaders were gathered, they were drawn by images of various symbols which reflected their faiths...
Posted by Omar Karindu on Wednesday, June 20 2001 at 11:27:02 GMT
...Hank Pym is an atheist too, which is why Firebird/Esperita didn't want to become romantically involved with him in WCA [West Coast Avengers] #26. Most of the members have never had any religious preference stated, BTW (excepting Thor, Black Panther, and Firebird, of course). Even Captain America has never explicitly been called religious, though he's likely Protestant...
From: "Religion in Comics", posted 22 December 2006 on "Noble Nonsense" blog website (http://www.mania.com/noblenonsense/blog/136.html; viewed 25 May 2007):
...Now apply all the mess of religious debate to the comic world. Yeah... not fun. After 9/11 I really wanted to see Captain America (I'm guessing a Protestant based character... my assumption) team up with the Arabian Knight so they could do some sort of unity between religious/cultural beliefs against violence. Didn't happen. Would've been a good one folks...
From: "Does Batman Go to Church?" forum discussion, started 21 March 2006 on AppleGeeks.com website (http://www.applegeeks.com/sm/index.php?action=printpage;topic=6662.0):
Title: Does Batman Go to Church?
Post by: gabrielzero on March 21, 2006, 01:11:16 PM
Well find out here:
and other inqueries on which superhero worships which religion. Its a pretty extensive sight with theories and findings...
Post by: SkyFallsDown on May 07, 2006, 02:16:18 PM
Weird. I was not expecting Captain America to be Protestant.
Post by: William Dojinn on September 29, 2006, 08:34:14 AM
...As to the other religions and all. Kinda figured Captain America would be whichever denomination was considered the most 'American' in WW2 era America, which is, I THINK, Baptist.
From: "Stuart Moore's A Thousand Flowers: O Deadly Night" forum discussion, started 2 December 2003 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/archive/index.php/t-6949.html; viewed 28 June 2007):
slug N lettuce
12-04-2003, 10:05 AM
...Marvel also has some good Holiday comics, even Ghost Rider gets into the holiday spirit of things. It's nice to see Franklin Richards learn a holiday lesson. To see Spidey stop crooks from taking off with a truck full of toys that are intended for those who are less fortunate. To see Captain America and Diamondback decorate a tree together.
I don't know what it is but they just make me feel good. They stop the pain from the real world from beating my spine for a little while. They bring out the type of character in Super-Heroes that they had in the Golden years. I know its cheesy but I love 'em and I'll keep searching back issue bins for any and every comic that has a holiday theme. Thank You Stuart Moore, I know you didn't intend on this but I consider this a great Christmas present. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!! EVERYONE!!!
The writer of the column excerpted below makes an interesting, valid point about the lack of genuine diversity among comic book characters. But this author seems to be unaware that the Justice League actually does have a Hindu superhero among its ranks. From: Andrew Dabb, "Four Color Innocense" essay for "Under Duress" column, posted 7 May 2001 on "Ninth Art" website (http://www.ninthart.com/display.php?article=2; viewed 16 July 2007):
About a week ago my father joined the NRA. For those of you who don't know, NRA stands for National Rifle Association. It's a group here in the United States that promotes the rights of citizens to own and carry guns... How does this relate to comics? One question: Is Captain America a member of the NRA? And if not, why not? The NRA claims to protect constitutional values, Cap likes the Constitution, doesn't he? I may not agree with my father joining that organization, but at least he has a point of view and is expressing it. That's something that comic book characters and stories rarely do; express an opinion, especially a controversial one. Why aren't more comic book heroes involved with groups like the NRA, or the NAACP, or ACLU, or PETA, or the KKK, or Nation of Islam?...
From: "Religion/Spirituality" forum discussion, started 16 August 2005 on Comixfan website (http://www.comixfan.com/xfan/forums/printthread.php?t=35225&page=17&pp=20; viewed 17 July 2007):
Jun 9, 2006 02:45 am
From Captain America post 201 (Originally Posted by Zero Mk2):
They should at least have made Captain America a Catholic. At least then he wouldn't have been a part of the Nazi World Order he hates so much. He's blond haired, and blue eyed and there isn't anything in him other than WHAT HE BELIEVES which stands out from the Nazi Ideology. If such a character could be used as an icon against the Nazis, then why isn't Marvel yet using any characters against Muslim terrorists that are similar in every way with the terrorists other than when it comes to what they believe?
OMG! This is just about the worst suggestion I've ever heard. Even though Steve Rogers' parents were Irish, and even though I really don't like Captain America as a character, this is a character that is the iconic representation of American values of freedom, equality and independence, freedom of speech, etc. But you would have Captain America representing only one specific religious tradition, which operates on a hierarchy which is undemocratic and has a long history of corruption, injustice, bias, deceit, and discrimination, which is controlled by a foreign state which is accountable to no one (among other vices and virtues).
What made Captain America an icon was his opposition to tyrannical and oppressive ideologies, his being the Aryan ideal stereotype physically, makes him complicated because of the obvious opposition to Nazi values.
You tell me why Marvel isn't using Muslim fundamentalist heroes against Islamic terrorists...
From: "Increasing comic circulation through different perspectives" forum discussion, started 30 November 2005 on "Comic Bloc" website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-15542.html; viewed 20 July 2007):
November 30th, 2005, 03:34 AM
In the last few days, since the thread on "Liberality for all" I have been pondering a number of seperate, yet to me, related issues affecting the comic industry in the USA. Among these are the long term trend of declining sales among mainstream comics, the ideologicall monopoly that liberals hold on the comics industry on the creative side, and the severe lack of credible, and more to the point admirable comics characters with a more conservative outlook. While I don't subscribe to the idea of a "vast leftwing conspiracy" in comics it is impossible to deny that most of those involved in the business of comics on the creative side are firmly and proudly liberal, and that while for the most part, politics comes up only tangentially in comics most Superheroes do seem to be of a liberal mindset.
I think that in the interest of honesty, we must at least examine the idea that perhaps the overwhelming presence of more liberal creators, when contrasted with the fact that the majority of Americans fall slightly more to the right of the political spectrum than left may be in some way related to the long term trend of declining sales... So could the creation or emphasis of charcters as conservatives, open the industry to new readers?
Heatwave the Rogue
November 30th, 2005, 08:50 AM
I consider myself an independant with strong liberal leanings. I love the state of the comic industry and the characters and writer's leanings to this direction.
That all being said, I would gladly read characters with a more accurate conservative viewpoint. Ultimate Captain America is a character that so far I have considered a very traditional conservative. Old school 1940's conservatism might be a more accurate description of the character and he's one of my favorite characters to read about. I'd love to see this character get into a political debate with Ollie (Green Arrow) and watch the sparks fly on in both the dialogue and on panel drawings. My favorite characters, the Flash family, tend to lean more conservative and I openly embrace this as part of their philosophies and mannerisms.
Religion, on the other hand, I feel should be kept as vague as possible. Where a Christian might be repulsed to find out that Superman is really an athiest, an athiest might be repulsed to find out that he's really a devout Christian, Jew, or other religion. Keeping the characters religious leanings more vague is more appealing to me personally. I'm not saying that religion should never play the part in a story, I just don't think that I want it ever declared that Captain America is Muslim because his current writer happens to be of that belief or that Spiderman is athiest because his current writer decides to force that down our throats.
With politics, I find more openmindedness and change in peoples belief systems. I was once VERY conservative and have changed my beliefs and attitudes drastically over the last 10-15 years. My religious beliefs have seldom changed over the years.
On a side note, I'm sad that the word "liberal" has become such a negative term in some people's vocabulary.
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