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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Above: "Look at Raven. Her dad's basically Satan": Kid Flash thinks that Superboy having half of his DNA come from Lex Luthor doesn't necessarily mean he himself will be evil, and points Raven's parentage as an example. [Source: Teen Titans #25, DC Comics: New York, 2005; story titled "The Insiders: Part III"; written by Geoff Johns; page 12; reprinted in Teen Titans/Outsiders: The Insiders (DC Comics: New York City, 2006)]
The Church of Blood used their rituals to cause the woman to become impregnated with the offspring of Trigon.
Trigon is a demon being of immense power. He has claimed to be the Devil about which Earth's religions speak. Trigon has conquered and killed the inhabitants of innumerable worlds (sometimes said to number in the millions) in his own dimension. Trigon desired to conquer the Earth and rule the entire universe.
Above: "Trigon damn me": Raven swears in the name of Trigon, her father. Despite the fact that Raven has actively opposed her father's attempts to conquer the Earth, she has at times prayed to Trigon or invoked his name as a deity. It makes for a strange father-daughter relationship. [Source: Teen Titans #16 (DC Comics: New York City, 2004); written by Geoff Johns and Mark Waid, pencilled by Mike McKone, inked by Marlo Alquiza; page 11; reprinted in Teen Titans: The Future is Now trade paperback, DC Comics: New York City (2005).]
When Raven's origins were originally presented, it was clear that Arella had joined a group of Satanists. The group was trying to summon Satan himself. The demon Trigon was presented as Satan. Later some of these details were retconned and the group that Arella temporarily joined was the "Church of Blood," and the demon they summoned was Trigon, but was not referred to as Satan.
After Arella gave birth to Raven, she rejected the Church of Blood and fled. She raised Raven in the pacifistic place called Azarath, in another dimension.
Raven was raised in the devoutly religious and peace-loving culture of Azarath. Until she was a teenager, the religion of Azarath was the only religion she knew. However, as a teenager she became embroiled in repeated plots relating to her father Trigon's attempts to conquer the Earth. Raven has both worked for and against her father. On many occasions she has sought the assistance of young heroes from Earth in combatting Trigon. It was Raven herself, trying to muster a force to oppose her father, who first gathered young heroes together to form the New Teen Titans.
Over the years, Raven has been torn between her dual parentage. At times she has been a being of darkness, or even evil. At other times she has striven to be a pure being of light and goodness.
Most of the Teen Titans stories revolving around Raven have been explicitly religious in their themes and content.
Ephraim wrote to us (8 May 2006) and provided the following excellent analysis of Raven's religious history and beliefs:
Raven is very much an Azarathian, but she is somewhat reformed [i.e., modified from the "orthodox" or dominant form of the religion]. According to the laws of Azarath, one can never interfere with violence, even to save a life. Once someone has left Azarath, they can never return. Raven did both when she left Azarath and warned the Titans of Trigon's upcoming invasion. After all this, Raven still followed most of beliefs of Azarath. She was peace-loving, tried not to fight and even prayed to Azar. It simply was that she agreed there were times when violence was neccesary. Its also worth mentioning that for the first eight years of her life, Raven was raised by Azar. She was given permission by the central figure of her religion not to pray, although she does sometimes.
Above: Raven confronts Dr. Light, while contemplating her own unique religious heritage. [Source: Teen Titans #22 (DC Comics: New York City, 2005); written by Geoff Johns, pencilled by Mike McKone, inked by Marlo Alquiza; page 1; reprinted in Teen Titans: The Future is Now trade paperback, DC Comics: New York City (2005).]
From: Robert Greenberger (editor), "Who's Who" in Teen Titans: The Future is Now trade paperback (DC Comics: New York, 2005), page 4:
The daughter of a human and the demon Trigon, she has spent much of her life trying to escape her father's influence. Raven was warned to always keep her anger and frustrations in check, lest she give in to her father's demonic influence. When Trigon wanted to invade Earth, she preceded him, helping form one version of the Titans to stop him. Since then, she has opposed Trigon frequently, losing her mortal body in the process. Without a body to inhabit, Raven's soul-self wandered the world aimlessly until recently.
Ephraim's letter to us (8 May 2006) also provided a sampling of quotes of which further illuminate Raven's religious background:
New Teen Titans Vol. 2 #1:
Raven: "Azar, I beseech you. Hear my words... hear my prayers. I need you. Goddess... I... need... you... My mind is a battleground, whipped and ripped asunder, torn from the very fabric of reality."
Tales of the New Teen Titans #2
Raven: "You must know that Azar was like a god to us. She led us from Earth to Azarath and she taught and guided us for two hundred years."
Tales of the New Teen Titans #2:
Arella: "Something is wrong with her, Coman... She's given up her prayers and taken to meditation... Each day for the past three years when our studies are over she rushes here... She ignores all others, preferes solitude and quiet. She never speaks to me unless she must. Coman, I tell you sometimes I... I fear her."
Tales of the New Teen Titans #2:
Raven: "My mother could not know that all was as Azar decreed but then I could not enlighten her and break my word to Azar."
New Teen Titans Vol. 1 #6:
Arella: "A more lovely child had never graced the world. Lovely, yet frightening. For she avoided the priest... more compfortable in meditation than in prayer. Though she was raised in the peace of Azarath... Her heritage boiled with the rage of Trigon."
New Teen Titans Vol. 1 #6:
RComan: "And we all sensed that difference. The child grew and rebelled, and constantly questioned our regulations. It was inevitable that one day she would leave us... and once you leave the temple Azarath, you can never return."
Based on her name, some people believe that Raven is ethnically Jewish. There have been variations in published accounts of Raven's origin. In at least one of these versions, Raven's mother's name is "Angela Roth." Raven indeed has enrolled in high school using the name "Rachel Roth," which is certainly a Jewish-sounding name. It is not clear that either "Rachel" or "Roth" are in any way Raven's birth name. She is usually known simply as "Raven," and "Rachel Roth" may simply be an alias.
In any case, there is no evidence that Raven has ever practiced Judaism or had any Jewish identity, or even that she really has any Jewish parentage. Raven has never identified herself as Jewish, nor has she ever used worn Jewish symbols such as the six-sided Star of David. Raven's father is Trigon (or Satan), who is presumably not Jewish (or even human). Raven's mother, regardless of whether her name is "Arella" (as in most accounts) or "Angela" was a convert to either Satanism or the demon-worshipping "Church of Blood" at the time that Raven was conceived. After Raven's birth, Raven's mother was a devout convert to Azarathian religion, the religion in which Raven was raised. The possibility remains that Raven's mother was ethnically Jewish and possibly had some Jewish religious upbringing prior to becoming involved in Satanism. Scenes showing a cross in the childhood home of Raven's mother seem to suggest that Raven's mother did not have a Jewish upbringing.
Above: "The daughter of a demon, trying to live life like a saint.": Robin (Tim Drake) his fellow Teen Titan, the mysterious Raven. [Source: Teen Titans #20 (DC Comics: New York City, 2005); written by Geoff Johns, pencilled by Tom Grummett, inked by Nelson; page 7; reprinted in Teen Titans: The Future is Now trade paperback, DC Comics: New York City (2005).]
From: "Trigon (comics)" page on Wikipedia website (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trigon_(comics); viewed 28 April 2006):
Trigon (also known as Trigon the Terrible) is a fictional villain who appears in Teen Titans comics published by DC Comics. Trigon is a large, red, four-eyed demon with antlers. He is the mysterious father of the superhero Raven, a member of the Teen Titans.
Trigon was the all-powerful ruler of an alterate dimension, who ruled in a sadistic and self-serving manner; he also desired to spread his evil to Earth's dimension...
Trigon was born in another dimension through the mating of a female member of a mystic sect and the god they worshipped. As a side effect of the pairing, he was filled with the cast-off evil energies of the inhabitants of Azarath, forming him into their personification. At birth, he killed everyone around him (including his own mother), and at age six, he destroyed an entire planet. By the age of thirty, he held dominion over millions of worlds in his dimension. Still not satisfied, he set out to invade Earth.
Arella, Raven's mother, was a depressed woman who decided to join a Satanic cult that was trying to bring Satan to Earth. (This has since been retconned as being the Church of Blood.) When the ritual was performed, Trigon emerged, disguised as a handsome male, and married Arella. Arella was soon impregnated by Trigon, at which time she discovered Trigon's true nature. After Trigon left her, Arella was on the brink of suicide when an extra-dimensional cult found her and brought her to Azarath (the otherdimensional home of the cult) where Raven was born and was taught to "control her emotions" in order to suppress and control Trigon's demonic powers that she was born with.
Eventually, Raven learned that Trigon was planning to conquer the Earth, and vowed to stop him. She initially approached the Justice League, but they refused her on the advice of Zatanna who sensed her demonic parentage. In desperation, she reformed the Teen Titans (who had disbanded earlier) with several new members in order to fight her father.
The team was eventually able to defeat Trigon and seal him in an interdimensional prison. However, Raven still had to fight her father's influence, as he was not completely destroyed. Trigon eventually escaped and came to Earth, taking control of Raven and destroying Azarath in the process. The Titans came together and killed Raven; this allowed the souls of Azarath to possess her and use her as a channel to kill Trigon.
Although Trigon is gone, his followers (led by the new Brother Blood) have tried to revive him several times.
LEFT: "Dark Raven's still on her pilgrimage in Zandia."
In a possible future seen by the contemporary Teen Titans, Raven is still religious, spends time in in Zandia, and is apparently worshipping in (or worshipped by) the Church of Blood.
The Teen Titans accidentally went ten years into the future, where they met future versions of their own selves. Many of the Titans, including Raven, had become far darker versions of their contemporary selves. Nevertheless, Raven (or "Dark Raven" as she had come to be called) was still a very religious character. In this panel, Conner Kent (contemporary Superboy, future "Superman") tells Tim Drake (contemporary Robin, future "Batman") over a radio link that Raven is on a religious pilgrimage in Zandia.
This brief line of dialogue indicates that this future version of Raven probably has strong ties to the Church of Blood that was the one-time church of her mother, and the church which worshipped her demonic father.
Zandia is a fictional island nation within in DC Universe. It lies in the Mediterranean near the coast of Italy. Atlas of the DC Universe (http://www.karridian.net/dcatlas.html) describes the small nation: The nation of Zandia is a small island that is considered safe harbor for criminals the world over. For centuries the island was under the control of the Church of Brother Blood."
[Source: Teen Titans #17 (DC Comics: New York City, 2004); written by Geoff Johns, pencilled by Mike McKone, inked by Marlo Alquiza; page 7; reprinted in Teen Titans: The Future is Now trade paperback, DC Comics: New York City (2005).]
A comic book reader with a particular interest in Jewish superheroes sent us the following (8 June 2006):
Raven is Jewish by birth. Despite the ridiculous placing of a cross in her mother, Arella (like Ariela)'s childhood room in the latest telling of Raven's origin, her last name is ROTH. Hard to get more Jewish than that.
From: "Who is your religious superhero" discussion board, started 14 March 2006, on "Ship of Fools: The Magazine of Christian Unrest" website (http://forum.ship-of-fools.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=006489; viewed 24 April 2006):
Spiffy da WonderSheep
Posted 21 March, 2006 18:34
Is it scary I'm going down the list and saying, "Well, what about Starfire and Raven? Why aren't they on these lists?"
(Starfire worships X'Hal, you know, and well, Raven's said multiple times the demon Trigon hears her prayers [and sometimes answers them, with wacky results])
Excerpts from: "Atheist superheroes" discussion page, started 2 March 2006, on "Atheist Network" website (http://atheistnetwork.com/viewtopic.php?p=209834&sid=5ca5d2a99f2714e2f90fcee608eb4ac4; viewed 26 May 2006):
Posted: Fri Mar 03, 2006 3:42 am
It's good to see that Mr. Terrific is still an atheist...
Of course if I were in the DC Universe I would be a believer in the supernatural if not an outright theist [i.e., believer in God]. After all, the heroes of that universe have been to Hell. They've stood before the hosts of heaven. Not only does Spectre exist but so does Deadman, Zatanna, Swamp Thing, Ragman, Raven and Dawn Manitou, Shazam, and on into near infinity. ...even the original Green Lantern got his power from magic. And Hal Jordan/Green Lantern was the freakin' Spectre for awhile. Add to that the number of characters that come back from the dead and really in that reality there would be no real reason to doubt.
...not surprisingly more villains are revealed to be atheists than heroes...
From: "Catholic Clix - Comic info needed!" forum discussion started 3 May 2003 on HCRealms website (http://www.hcrealms.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-40338.html; viewed 24 May 2007):
Ok, so in recent films it's been apparent that Daredevil and Nightcrawler are Catholic...
So, who else out there could be fielded in a "Catholic" Heroclix team?
Has anyone thought of Raven and Scarlet Witch, Dr. Strange. Clea (Strange's wife), Agatha Harkness (Wanda's tutor)? They are studying witchcraft and sorcery - a religion known as Wiccan.
From: "Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters" forum discussion, started 10 March 2007 on "Brian Michael Bendis" part of "Comic Creator Boards" section of "Jinxworld Forums" website (http://www.606studios.com/bendisboard/archive/index.php/t-106242.html; viewed 6 June 2007):
03-10-2007, 10:46 AM
An ASTONISHINGLY detailed site that delves into the religions of superheroes. Someone has WAY too much time on their hands.
03-10-2007, 10:54 AM
Not a lot of atheists.
03-10-2007, 11:07 AM
Yeah, its kind of hard to be an atheist when you encounter gods and abstract entities on a semi-regular basis.
Even hard in the DCU, which is why I thought Mr. Terrific was a dumbass.
I mean c'mon. Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman draw their powers from ancient Pantheons, Raven is a daughter of a demon, the Spectre is the Spirit of God's vengeance, things like Etrigan, Zauriel, not to mention the various characters actually, you know, going to Heaven and Hell for whatever reason.
From: "Superheroes/villains and their religions" forum discussion, started 16 March 2006 on "Animation Insider" website (http://www.animationinsider.net/forums/archive/index.php?t-17835.html; viewed 28 June 2008):
03-16-2006, 05:16 AM
Someone pointed this out at another forum. I found it to be quite amusing that someone would actually have enough time on their hands to ponder about this.
03-17-2006, 06:22 AM
...The only TT [Teen Titans] member the mentioned that I saw was Aqualad. And of course he's Atlantean.
03-17-2006, 03:03 PM
Well, as far as the Titans go, Raven is obvious. Superboy is the same as Superman. Wonder Girl is the same as Wonder Woman. Kid Flash is the same as Barry Allen... Starfire follows the Tamaranian religion.
04-02-2006, 11:04 PM
...how is Raven's religious views obvious? She's the daughter of an interdimensional demon, but I don't think that means she's a Satanist or whatnot. Or do you mean Azarathian? Apologies if so.
04-02-2006, 11:12 PM
Well, she practices witchcraft so my natural assumption is Wicca. Satanist? I doubt it since she doesn't like her father who according to the comic is widely considered in many universes to be "Satan".
05-01-2006, 06:44 PM
They also list Trigon himself as a "Satanist", among other things.
Personally, I doubt he would have wanted anything to do with either of them. He's not interested in being worshipped anyway.
[NOTE: The following forum discussion about the religious affiliations of the Teen Titans comes from late 2004 and the first half of 2005. The material thus completely pre-dates the creation of Adherents.com's "Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters" section. Much of the following discussion may appear inane, and the opinions proffered are often without textual basis. Much of this is guesswork. The people posting in this forum discussion appear to base their discussion on the Teen Titans animated TV series at least as much as comics. For all its flaws, we have re-produced this forum discussion here in its entirety because it has value. If nothing else, readers of this material can get a glimpse of general impressions formed by viewers of the Teen Titans animated series and readers of the associated comic books.]
From: "TT Religions" forum discussion, started 1 November 2004 on "Titans Go" website (http://forums.titansgo.net/viewtopic.php?t=668; viewed 1 June 2007):
From: "Sacreligious amd anti-Christian Comic characters" forum discussion, started 28 February 2007 on official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000107545&start=0&tstart=15; viewed 19 July 2007):
Posted: Feb 28, 2007 12:49 PM
Any character that uses magic, sorcery
Posted: Feb 28, 2007 12:58 PM
Is this crap serious? This all depends on what faith you practice. It's conservative braindead and downright dangerous thinking like this that makes more and more people turn on the church...
Good Lord, (sigh)
Posted: Feb 28, 2007 1:19 PM
Sure, I can possibly see why Zauriel, the Spectre, Raven, the magic users and even Storm (since she is sometimes refered to as a godess) could be called sacrilegious...
Posted: Feb 28, 2007 11:20 PM
Comments on Mavericker's list:
...Raven - Groan, not again. (Remembering previous posts by Mavericker.)...
"Any character that uses magic, sorcery."
The actual dictionary definition of sacreligious follows:
From the Oxford dictionary:
Adjective form of Sacrilege
Noun. Robbery or profanation of sacred building.
Outrage on consecrated person or thing.
Violation of what is sacred.
These are fictional characters!!!
Which of them have robbed or profaned a sacred building, committed an act of outrage on a consecrated person (well LOBO Probably) or violated what is sacred?
And if you think these characters are sacreligious, why don't you just avoid the books that use them?
Is Elfquest sacreligious because the elves have no organized religion?
Posted: Mar 3, 2007 6:24 AM
Mavricker: I was joking on another thread about sluttiest people. Using your logic: Sabrina the Teenage Witch is evil as is Harry Potter. Forgot-Harry Potter's universe is an Alternate History Universe where things operate different and magic is science. The magic term is used so not to turn off non-Science fiction readers. The broomsticks, for instance, are personal flyers. How about the Wizard of OZ-movie and book? E---Ville! Don't come to me quoting the Bible out of context as you fundamentalists do. Raven is a humanoid Alien from another planet and looks human. Do NOT apply human standards to aliens from outer space. BTW I also forgot Is Klaatu from Day the Earth Stood Still evil? Hmm? He takes the name of Carpenter is killed and arises from the dead. What a moron you are. Troll!
From: "Vegetarian Superheroes" forum discussion, started 18 March 2005 in Brian Michael Bendis section of "Jinxworld" website (http://www.606studios.com/bendisboard/archive/index.php/t-231.html; viewed 31 July 2007):
03-18-2005, 01:01 PM
So... out of curiousity are there vegetarian superheroes? I'm not talking about supporting characters, but the actual heroes who wear tights and a cape. And are any of them vegan?
03-18-2005, 01:03 PM
...Teen Titans: Raven and Beast Boy.
From: "Need Help With A Research Project" forum discussion, started 9 December 2005 on the "Comic Bloc" website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-16070.html; viewed 6 August 2007):
December 13th, 2005, 10:40 PM
Religon: Reform/Conservative Jewish (somewhere in between the two)
...5e. Raven represents mercy. Her ability to drain emotions allows her to heal others and give them confidence...