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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Jarod Dale, who was known as "Redemption" in his costumed "superhero" identity, was a devout member of the First Church of Redemption, an independent Protestant Christian church. The "Redemption" character and the church that he belonged to were introduced in a two-part Superman story published in Action Comics #s 848-849 (June-July 2007).
The "First Church of Redemption" does not appear to be part of a true multi-congregation denomination in the traditional sense. Rather, the First Church of Redemption appears to be principally a stand-alone congregation (essentially an independent single-congregation "denomination") which sponsored a small number of missionaries in a foreign country that was hostile to its proselytizing efforts.
Theoretically, Jarod Dale can be classified as a member of a "community church." Technically, Dale and his family did not belong to a congregation that actually called itself "Community Church" (as is the case with the Christian Knight Comics character "Mr. Christian"). Rather, it appears that the congregation Jarod Dale was a member of was a de facto "community church."
The First Church of Redemption was a fictional religious group that was used by writer Fabian Cortez to explore the idea of a devoutly religious superhero who mis-used his super-powers in a well-meaning but ultimately misguided desire to serve other people and serve his church.
The First Church of Redemption does not appear to be an analogue of any specific religious group or denomination, other than simply being based on the idea of independent stand-alone congregations or "community churches" that have no real oversight from national or international denominational organizations. An important aspect of this story is that the First Church of Redemption was not part of a well-established denomination with a prominent profile and an accountable denominational leadership structure. The First Church of Redemption was not led by an experienced elected denominational president or pope, genuine prophet, noble leader or comparable figure. Rather, the First Church of Redemption was led by a single self-appointed Protestant Christian preacher who abused his position, sought power and took the law into his own hands. The preacher abused his own inherent super-powers in order to obtain power from the worshippers in his congregation and he fueled Jarod Dale's powers as "Redemption" in order to violently strike back at the people who killed his overseas missionaries. Presumably the writer envisioned Jarod Dale was a member of an independent "community church" because an established real-world Christian denomination (such as Superman's own home denomination, the United Methodist Church) would not actually send a superhero into a foreign country to avenge the killing of its missionaries with lethal force.
The two-part Action Comics story is not an "anti-religion" story. Rather, the story considers how religion, like anything else that imperfect humans deal with, can be abused. The story stars Superman who reflects on his own devout, church-going religious upbringing. During the story, Superman actively seeks counsel from a number of devoutly religious people, including his own mother and a Protestant Christian friend of his who runs an outreach center in Metropolis. Ultimately, Superman uses not his physical super-powers but a reasoned appeal to genuine Christian ethics to convince the worshippers in the First Church of Redemption to abandon their pastor, and thus deprive the man of his power to do continued harm.
At the end of this story, it is not clear what the future will hold for Jarod Dale, a.k.a. "Redemption." His vast super-powers, which gave him power and strength surpassing Superman's own, were only activated when the leader of the First Church of Redemption channeled the power of the belief from his followers into Jarod. Without the organized congregation and the preacher's active act of channeling power to him, Jarod Dale presumably has no power. Furthermore, Jarod Dale and his family, along with the other members of the First Church of Redemption, leave their renegade pastor at the end of the story, presumably meaning the effective end of the First Church of Redemption. There is no indication that these followers, including Jarod Dale, have lost faith in God or their Protestant Christian beliefs generally, but they will probably join other local congregations rather than continue congregating as the "First Church of Redemption."
Webpage created 12 June 2007. Last modified 12 June 2007.
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