Jean Grey is a mutant who was one of the founding members of the X-Men, the most popular Marvel Comics superhero team. The character of Jean Grey was introduced in X-Men issue #1, published in 1963. The character was created by Jewish comic book writer Stan Lee and Jewish comic book artist Jack Kirby. Jean Grey originally went by the superhero codename "Marvel Girl." She later adopted the codename "Phoenix," after the Phoenix Force which endowed her with great power, but also caused her many problems. More than most of the other X-Men, Jean Grey has been known simply by her given birth name.
Jean Grey has always been portrayed as having come from an upper-middle class Protestant background. She was a student of Professor Charles Xavier's even before he founded the X-Men, and her family seems to have known the Professor prior to that time. Although Scott Summers (a.k.a, Cyclops, Grey's longtime boyfriend, who would eventually become her husband) became known as the "first X-Man," it was actually Jean Grey who was Xavier's first student. Jean Grey was with the X-Men from the time the team was formed.
Given the way Jean Grey has been portrayed throughout the years, with her somewhat patrician and religiously low-key New England family background, the character has come to be widely regarded as an Episcopalian, although it is not clear whether this denominational identification is "canonical" (i.e., officially established within the Marvel Universe continuity).
Jean Grey was shown praying with a Christian cross in one Classic X-Men backup story. When Jean Grey married long-time boyfriend Scott Summers, it was in a Protestant Christian ceremony held outdoors.
Jean Grey has dead on multiple occasions, and the various scenes depicting her funerals and gravestones appear to be Episcopalian more than anything else.
Jean Grey's father was a professor at Bard College, an Episcopalian-affiliated university. Certainly there are non-Episcopalian professors at Bard College, but it is nevertheless interesting to point this out.
From: "Bard College" article on Wikipedia.org (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bard_College; viewed 12 December 2005):
The college was originally founded under the name St. Stephen's, in association with the Episcopal church of New York City, and changed its name to Bard in 1934 in honor of its founder, John Bard. While it officially remains affiliated with the church, the college pursues a far more secular mission today...
In the X-Men comics, Jean Grey's father is mentioned as being a professor of history at Bard. The town of Annandale-On-Hudson is known as Jean Grey's hometown and where her parents have resided for the entire duration of the series. According to the comics, Professor Xavier is also an alum of Bard, where Professor Grey taught him history.
Issue #1 of the Marvel Comics miniseries Marvel 1602 (November 2003, published 13 August 2003) establishes the Grey family as English Protestant during the 1600s (i.e., Anglican), with its depiction of John Grey (the analogue or ancestor of Jean Grey in the series) and references to Lady Jane Grey, the Protestant granddaughter of Henry VII.
Jean Grey has always been portrayed as somebody with a strong moral background. Indeed, many of the pivotal stories about the character involve the inner battle between Jean Grey's innate virtuous character and the evil or amoral influence of the Phoenix Force which came to inhabit her body. Jean Grey has even willingly sacrificed her life so that she would no longer pose a danger to others. In the famous "Dark Phoenix" storyline, Jean Grey is said to have sacrificed her own life so that the world could be saved. A number of writers have described interesting parallels between these events and the New Testament account of the Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the Cross. These stories are not exact parallels, however, because Jean Grey's character, under the influence of the Phoenix, had a dual nature and evil/destructive component which is not present in the New Testament account of Jesus.
Despite ample evidence of Jean Grey's strong moral character, compassion for others, and probably religious education, she has rarely been portrayed as particularly religious. Only rarely has her character been seen in comic books going to a church for worship or contemplation. Jean Grey was shown with a cross praying a cross in a Classic X-Men backup story.
From: "At DC Comics, Diversity Is No Laughing Matter", published on AOLTimeWarner.com website, 1 November 2001 (http://www.bluecorncomics.com/atdccom.htm; viewed 20 December 2005):
"The original creators of comics, 60 or 70 years ago, were almost all Jewish and Italian kids from various parts of New York," notes DC Comics Executive Vice President and Publisher Paul Levitz. "And the characters they created were pseudo-whitebread Episcopalian. It was almost de rigueur back then to paint people in this idealized American image."Infinity Crusade: Jean Grey 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.
Possibly the scarcity of portrayals of Jean Grey exhibiting overt religiosity is simply a function of the religion taboo that was in effect during the era in which her character was created. Few mainstream comic book characters created during that era openly portrayed religiosity or were overtly identified as belonging to a specific religious group. This was the case even when the creators of the character (in this case, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby) had a specific religious-ethnic background in mind when the created the character. One could also point out that Jean Grey's relatively infrequent and relaxed (or even lapsed) religious observance is realistic for an Episcopalian. Roughly 50% of the Americans who identify themselves as Episcopalians are not even official members of any congregation (see: NSRI/ARIS surveys, Kosmin, et al), and Episcopalians are the least likely among all major Christian denominations in the U.S. to attend worship services in a given week. (See: Barna pollling data relating to church attendance.)
From: Julian Darius, "Annotations to Marvel 1602 #1", posted on 14 August 03 on SeqArt.com website (http://www.sequart.com/marvel1602n1.htm; viewed 12 December 2005):
Panel 5: Queen Mary, also known as Bloody Mary, held the English throne just prior to Elizabeth. Mary, like Elizabeth the daughter of Henry VIII, took the throne in 1553 following the death of Edward VI, who succeeded Henry VIII, his father who had broken with the Catholic Church. A bit of background might be useful here.
When Henry VIII, in 1527, requested that the Pope invalidate his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, she had produced six children, of which only Mary had survived infancy, leaving no son to inherit the throne. Catherine, daughter of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile (whose union united Spain and who sent Columbus to the New World), had powerful friends in Rome, and the Pope denied Henry VIII's request. Henry VIII lurched England towards religious independence, threatening the clergy in England, who declared Henry VIII "supreme head of the English Church and clergy." In 1533, Henry's marriage to Catherine was annulled by English law; on 1 June, Anne Boleyn was crown Queen of England. Pope Clement VII quickly excommunicated the king. Beginning the following year, a series of acts were passed requiring oaths from all men in support of the new queen, eventually leading, in May 1535, to executions. Henry VIII spent the rest of the 1530s suppressing the monasteries and seizing their wealth, and his men, in early 1937, put down with some 130 executions a Catholic insurrection begun in the north of England on 1 October 1936 -- though his persecution and executions of the uncooperative targeted both Catholics and Protestants. Meanwhile, Henry VIII in 1536 charged the queen, Anne Boleyn (who he had finally married just three years before), with adultery and treason, having her beheaded and asking Parliament to invalidate the marriage.
When Henry VIII died in 1547, his son Edward VI, then only 10, came to the throne. A staunch Protestant surrounded by staunched Protestants, Edward presided over the formulation of the Church of England as an organized, separate institution: he wrote the first Book of Common Prayer, which became in 1549 the basis of English church services, and presided over the creation of the 42 articles of religion that became the core of Anglican orthodoxy. Gravely ill, he was persuaded to sign a will depriving of succession his two half-sisters -- Mary, daughter of Catherine of Aragon, and Elizabeth, daughter of Anne Boleyn. The scheme would have placed Lady Jane Grey, the Protestant granddaughter of Henry VII (not Henry VIII), on the throne. Upon Edward's death in 1553, Lady Jane took the throne -- and ruled with her husband for nine days before Mary, who quickly marshaled support, seized the throne and had the couple executed.
Queen Mary, however, was Catholic -- and married to Philip II, the king of Spain. She immediately lurched the nation towards Catholicism, affirming papal authority and restoring the Catholic mass in English churches. She earned the name Bloody Mary through her series of religious persecutions, burning at the stake almost three hundred Protestants and causing hundreds to flee abroad.
Bloody Mary died childless in 1558, and her half-sister Elizabeth took the throne. She had been outwardly Catholic during Mary's reign, but her true religious beliefs were suspect. At her coronation, she affirmed her Protestantism by kissing and laying to her breast an English translation of The Bible, banned under Queen Mary. The English had been through change of religion after change of religion, but Elizabeth's long reign would solidify the Church of England -- and preserve the memory of Bloody Mary...
Panel 1: Note that the ship, propelled by John Grey's powers, has its sails up. The sight is eerie, certainly accentuated by an angel on the brow, and certainly would have been to anyone in 1602.
Panel 2: The stance of the Angel -- with arms tensed, leg bent and projected forward, wings unfurled -- emphasizes both his power and his liberation, his ability to stretch after having been chained. Moreover, his position on the brow of the ship in a fashion reminiscent of the most famous scene in the movie Titanic, in which Leonardo DeCaprio's character leans over the brow with arms outstretched and shouts, in amazement at the wonder of the ship and at his liberation from poverty in Ireland, "I'm king of the world!" This resonance reinforces the sense of liberation and invites a sense of wonder at the 1602 universe...
Panel 6: This John Grey is the 1602 equivalent of Jean Grey, the mutant known as Marvel Girl and then as Phoenix. Jean Grey, a woman, was -- and is -- part of a love triangle with Cyclops (the 1602 equivalent of whom is the speaker here) and Wolverine, though she eventually married Cyclops. Her powers are staggering, including telekinesis and the manifestation of a phoenix-shaped flame. Before marrying Cyclops, she died in what is almost certainly the most celebrated X-Men story of all time, The Dark Phoenix Saga, in which the spirit of the Phoenix overcame her and made her evil as her powers skyrocketed; before her death, she destroyed an entire solar system. For those who know this past, John Grey is clearly one to watch.
Panel 6: The shot of the ship from behind allows us to see the effect of John Grey's powers, which the reader familiar with the Marvel mythos would watch a bit more carefully than the unfamiliar reader. While the shot lacks the melodrama -- and ominous image for the familiar reader -- of a flaming phoenix, the explosive chopping of the waves must be produced by considerable power and emphasizes the speed at which the ship is moving. Moreover, the bright sun and the saturation of the image in yellow, orange, and redish hues not only makes for a beautiful image but communicates more subtly the threatening power of John Grey.
13 May 2004
Others: U.S.Agent (Southern Baptist?), Windshear (Protestant Christian?), Human Torch and Invisible Woman (Protestant)... Wolfsbane (Presbyterian), Jean Grey (?... shown attending church at some point), Storm (worships a goddess of some sort), Cannonball (? ...some branch of Christianity)
Mostly Marvel, I know... BTW... some of these were revealed during the Infinity Crusade.
From: "Up, up, and oy, vey!", posted 5 February 2006 on MetaFilter.com website (http://www.metafilter.com/39326/Up-up-and-oy-vey; viewed 19 June 2007):
...By the way, Marvel apparently recognized early on that its original books had been too whitebread. All five of the original X-Men [Cyclops, Iceman, the Beast, Angel and Jean Grey/Marvel Girl] were WASPs ["White Anglo-Saxon Protestants"], but when they revived the book in the 1970's, the new team members (Havok, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Storm, Wolverine, Thunderbird, Banshee and Sunfire) were WASP, German Catholic, African Pagan, Canadian, Native American, Irish Catholic, and Japanese, respectively...
posted by Asparagirl at 8:14 PM on February 5
From: "Religion of the X-Men" message board started 15 May 2005 on Comic Book Resources website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-58362.html; viewed 13 June 2006):
Emerald GhostFrom: Barry, "For Barry" page, posted 26 March 2006 on "Theo-Dongs" blog website http://theopeckers.blogspot.com/2006/03/for-barry.html; viewed 8 May 2006):
05-15-2005, 05:56 PM
Do you ever wonder what religion an X-Man is? I know they are just characters, but still, just for the fun of it.
I am wondering if you could guess their religion by their character, or what they've said, etc.
05-15-2005, 06:58 PM
This is an interesting topic!
I've wondered about this myself quite a few times. And not surprisingly, mostly wondered about Jean.
See, she is a God. So where does that leave her? Does she still worship the idea of a Christian God? Or does that conflict with what she knows about the universe? Anyway, this is all really interesting. Any thoughts?
05-15-2005, 07:08 PM
I disagree that she's a god. If she's a god, then a lot of (if not all) the "cosmic" characters are gods too, as well as some of the most powerful mutants, etc, etc - and "god" just ends up meaning "really powerful entity", which strikes me as nonsensical in a universe where pretty much everyone knows there's always an entity more powerful than them around the corner.
I'm not even sure I would class the Asgardian gods as gods in a useful sense - the only thing that seems to differentiate them from regular superpowered people is that long ago some humans worshipped them.
In a general sense, I can see having contact with cosmically-powered entities (or, in the case of Jean, being one) going both ways - either convincing you that "gods" are nothing more than people with powers, and there's nothing spiritual about them . . . or convincing you that the universe is such a vast and wonderful place that there must be something beyond what we can see.
Hmm - the astral plane is definitely real in the Marvel Universe, but lots of religions and belief systems believe in it, so I don't think that tells us anything anyway.
Hmm - didn't the Watcher once say something like the only all-powerful being in the universe is love?
05-15-2005, 07:23 PM
But the thing about Jean is that she has control over time and space. She can erase the past, or the present if she likes. Make people, places, entire years like they never existed. And I'm not talking Jean Grey, I mean as Phoenix in the White Hot Room.
That's the thing I find interesting about Jean - she is a person, but she's got this cosmic knowledge. She knows what is out there. She can concieve the idea of infinity, you know? When she's in the White Hot Room, she's omnipotent and omniscient.
The Lucky One
05-15-2005, 07:38 PM
...As for [other] characters...
Jean Grey - some branch of Christianity (seen praying, and I think with a cross, in a Classic X-Men backup)...
05-15-2005, 10:48 PM
...I'd say Scott, Rachel and Nathan are all pretty skeptical when it comes to a higher power. Jean I see holding onto some type of religion mostly because it's been so ingrained in her upbringing.
05-16-2005, 03:02 PM
True enough, but the thing about the Marvel Universe is that you're only omnipotent as long as the Living Tribunal (via Proxy from the One Above All) says you are. So even Jean in the White Hot Room has people above her on the pecking order.
All that means for her is that she no longer has to believe in a Creator, she knows there's one for a fact.
As far as my boy Scott goes, I think he's probably a deist of some sort. Whether he subscribes to a particular ethos is up for debate (I would guess lapsed Christian though), but his character definitely strikes me as having a background of faith.
Why are all the cool characters [expletive] Episcopalians? What the hell! Like every hero with a descent power is all rich and beautiful. Look at that list. The Invisible Woman and the Human Torch (multi-millionaires), Warren Worthingtion - the Archangel (also a multi-millionaire), Captain Britain (millionaire and ruler of another dimension), Psylocke (Captain Britain's sister, so, yes, a millionaire), Henry McCoy - the Beast (not really a millionaire but a genius geneticist who lives in a mansion with Charles Xavier who is a millionaire), Jean Grey - the Phoenix (also not personally rich, but is a cosmic god who, when she's living, lives in a mansion with millionaires), and of course Bruce Wayne - Batman (who is not a millionaire, but is, in fact, a billionaire). So, yes. There's you're proof. All Episcopalians are lazy rich people.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 21:55:56From: "(OFFTOPIC) Sleepwalker and a RANT!" thread started 9 April 1996 on rec.arts.comics.marvel.xbooks newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.marvel.xbooks/browse_thread/thread/530027d02cbeb884/7c688dd20f2f433c; viewed 13 June 2006):
Subject: Religious beliefs of Marvel characters?
Does anybody know the religious beliefs of various characters?
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 03:57:48
From: Samy Merchi
In many cases, it [Infinity Crusade] is the strongest canonical reference to many of the characters' religious stance. Some lucky ones have been dealt with at more depth in their own books (DD, Rahne, Storm et al.) but for many characters Infinity Crusade is the biggest canonical reference. If we want to go by canon rather than sheer postulation.
From: BrianFrom: "X-Men religious affiliations" thread started 1 June 2002 on rec.arts.comics.marvel.xbooks newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.marvel.xbooks/browse_thread/thread/78e6830d00083d2f/102a03cd2dab9fda; viewed 13 June 2006):
Date: Wed, Apr 10 1996 12:00 am
Say, this [religious affiliations of the X-Men] would be a neat thread. My memory doesn't really remember a lot of the X-Men having stated a religion. Kitty's Jewish, and Scott and Jean were married (I think) in a Catholic ceremony...
From: Sarah Anne Yost
Date: Fri, Apr 12 1996 12:00 am
...I seriously doubt that Scott and Jean are Catholic. In Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix, Scott recalled specifically having "honor and obey" written out of their wedding vows. The Catholic vows are now (and have been for a good while) "love, honor and cherish" said by both husband and wife.
- S. Yost
Who should know about that last one, sheesh, she's been to Catholic weddings.
From: Chris DodsonFrom: "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/e46638dbdaa8a219; viewed 22 June 2006):
Date: Sat, Jun 1 2002 9:38 pm
I'm looking for information on the religious beliefs of all the current X-Men for a story I'm submitting to Marvel. The only one I know for sure is Nightcrawler (Catholic). I get the impression that Wolverine is an atheist or agnostic, but I have no in-comic evidence to support this. Any help you guys could give me would be greatly appreciated. Also, in your responses, could you provide titles and issue numbers of the comics in which the information is stated? Thanks.
Date: Sun, Jun 2 2002 11:59 am
...And maybe you should review the marriage of Cyclops and Phoenix, and look at the priest marrying them... I just don't know where that one is.
Date: Fri, Jun 7 2002 5:47 am
Kurt's also Catholic, of course. Jean would seem to be, too, but she's also studied Kabala...
Date: Tues, Sep 21 1999 12:00 am
...Anyone care to post a list of those characters whose spiritual beliefs are on record?
From: David O'Brien
Date: Tues, Sep 21 1999 12:00 am
...Jean and Scott. Got married in a church...
From: "Where are the Christian Superheroes?" forum discussion page started 22 August 2006 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/archive/index.php/t-81451.html; viewed 5 May 2007):
08-22-2006, 10:03 AM
...I pose the question to you, my fellow Talk@Ramanians: If Christianity is the most popular faith in the United States, why aren't there more openly Christian superheroes?
08-22-2006, 11:57 AM
I'm Episcopalian myself, so I remember whenever a hero comes up as one. From what I remember, Beast, Jean Grey (which would kinda make Rachel Grey one, too, in a way), Archangel, [and] Psylocke were all at some point identified as Episcopal.
From: "Archangel is Episcopalian" message posted 20 March 2006 by "Crucified Ego" on "Doublestuffed" blogwebsite (http://doublestuffed.livejournal.com/246311.html; viewed 14 May 2007):
Ever wonder what religion the X-Men were? No, me neither.
If for some reason this is interesting to you, there is a site for Comic Book Religion [http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html]. I found it on Something Awful. I think it's all BS, because why would Havok be Catholic, Jean Grey be Episcopalian, and Cycolps be Protestant? I'm calling shenanigans on the whole thing, but I am greatly amused this site even exists.
Just FYI, if you click on the religion listed next to the name it will send you to a page where it attempts to classify why that particular hero is considered to belong to that religion.
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...
Anyone know if Charles Xavier is Catholic or Protestant, or uh, possibly Jewish? What religion is that man anyway?
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...
...Xavier may just be nondenominational. No idea what Scott Summers is but it seems that Jean Grey is a Christian as well, and same with the Hank McCoy...
From: "What are the religious beliefs of the main mutants in the X-Books?" forum discussion started 16 January 2007 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-160293.html; viewed 16 May 2007):
01-16-2007, 03:51 PM
What do you think the religious beliefs of the following mutants are?
01-16-2007, 04:38 PM
Kitty - Jewish
Jean - Protestant
Magneto - Jewish
Xavier - Protestant
Bobby - Jewish
Wanda - Jewish
Pietro - Jewish
Lorna - Catholic?
Storm - No idea...
Wolverine - Protestant?
Emma - Catholic?
Sam - Baptist?
Angel - Protestant?
Banshee - Catholic?
Chamber - Anglican?
Scott and Alex - Protestant
Psylocke - Protestant or Anglican
01-16-2007, 07:09 PM
Most comic book characters are blandly nondenominational with a tendency towards being WASPs [i.e., "White Anglo-Saxon Protestants"]. The only ones I would consider obviously practicing members of a faith are:
Jean: founder and prophet of the Church of the Phoenix
Storm: Neopagan, Goddess worshipper
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):
12-04-2003, 05:27 AM
Another... equally sappy-holiday-esque story is Uncanny X-Men #308 and #309. In 308, the X-Men have a good old fashioned Thanksgiving dinner. A lot of character-driven scenes with Scott and Jean deciding to get married and Xavier showing some signs of jealousy over their happiness. Meanwhile you also get a friendly football game...