The Religious Affiliation of
Acclaimed Science Fiction and Comic Book Writer
Neil Gaiman is a science fiction writer and is one of the world's most critically acclaimed comic book writers. He may be best known for his groundbreaking work on the DC Comics series Sandman.
Neil Gaiman is Jewish.
Neil Gaiman is the son of a prominent leader of the Church of Scientology. Neil Gaiman was active in the denomination for a long time, but may no longer be.
From: Tilman Hausherr, scientology celebrities FAQ" of alt.religion.scientology, last updated 1 July 2005 (http://home.snafu.de/tilman/faq-you/celeb.txt; viewed 11 November 2005):
Name: Neil Gaiman
Profession: writer (Sandman comics)
Status [in Scientology]: SP in 1983; was Class VIII auditor, ran the Birmingham org for a while but Scientologist Mark Pope... claims on 4.4.1995: "Neil is a long time Scientologist". (This might be wishful thinking, i.e. not believing that a son of a scieno in good standing is an SP)
Sources [confirming that he was/is in Scientology]: Mike MacLeod: "My auditor is a friend of the elder Gaiman."
The Times, 13.8.1968
David Mayo...: "he was a case supervisor at the G.O. at the time of the CMO takeover of the G.O. and the transition to RTC/OSA"
Neil Gaiman is the son of David Gaiman ['DG'], who was a high Church of Scientology official (GO, from 66-83) and is currently active in Russia. (DG's involvement was/is much, much too big to cover here; DG was an SP for a time)
Emerald: I believe Neil Gaiman was active in the Church of Scientology later than 1983. His name appears in graduate lists in The Auditor Worldwide (published by AOSH UK):
Auditor #202 (copyright 1986)
- Neil completed the Hubbard Senior Sec Checker Course #222 (1988)
- completed the 21 Dept Org Board Course #227 (1988)
- completed the Hubbard Basic Art Course.
From: "Neil Gaiman" article on Wikipedia.org website (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_Gaiman; viewed 11 November 2005):
Although Jewish, he was schooled at a school run by the Church of England. There he studied both standard school topics as well as religion classes. At the same time, he trained to become Bar Mitzvah with an Orthodox Jewish cantor. This training gave him a wide background in both Jewish and Christian theology, which he incorporates heavily into his works, perhaps most notably in Sandman.
From: Regie Rigby, "The question of religion" article, "Fool Britannia" column, posted on "Silver Bullet Comics" website (http://www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com/fool/111010997522360.htm; viewed 22 December 2005):
Playing with defunct pantheons is one thing. Using gods that people actually worship is another. Messing with a person's gods or prophets risks causing offence, or worse. Just ask Salman Rushdie.
But if you play your cards right, you cannot only get away with such potential blasphemy, you can be hailed as a genius for doing so. Look at Neil Gaiman. His Sandman series featured Angels, Demons, and Lucifer giving up the keys to Hell itself. The presence of Cain and Abel in The Dreaming was explained by a Biblical reference (having committed the first murder by killing his brother, Cain was banished to the Land of Nod, Cain and Abel are themselves Biblical characters of course, indeed they appear in the religious texts of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
In many ways Gaiman put these characters on the same level as the gods from the ancient pantheons and characters from popular mythology, plundering all traditions equally as threads to weave into his tapestry. On reflection I'm surprised this wasn't more controversial.
From: Rebecca Salek, "Spirituality In Comics", on "Sequential Tart" website (http://www.sequentialtart.com/archive/dec03/tth_1203.shtml; viewed 5 January 2006):
For many people. December is a month which contains celebrations of religious, spiritual or cultural significance. For many people. December is a month which contains celebrations of religious, spiritual or cultural significance. In recognition of that, this month the Tarts pick out what they consider to be the best representations of spirituality in comic books...
Lee: The best treatments of spirituality and of religion don't necessarily equate to the best written stories about spirituality or religion. I have always been interested in fiction that uses religious text and principles to set up conflict and drama, though I hesitate to call it the "best treatment" simply because practitioners of that faith may not appreciate such uses of their religion. My enjoyment of these works comes from my interest in world religions and the impact they have on the cultures that follow them.
But this enjoyment only comes if it is the author's intention to elucidate about a particular religious practice, to question the deeper meaning behind religious dogma, or to hold up a mirror and reflect the superficial aspects of the religion back to the reader. There must be substance to the story, after all. And truthfully, it doesn't matter whether an author is stringently challenging the basic tenets, and casting aside pretensions to dig for the kernel of truth, or updating religious allegories for modern audiences, the authors who write the best stories are those who have the clearest understanding of that religion.
I have consistently found that the best religious stories are by Vertigo. There seems to be a tradition of intelligent treatments of religious themes amongst the writers typically associated with Vertigo, including Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Mike Carey, Garth Ennis, and Grant Morrison. Ranging from examinations of the relationships between religious figures (as with Carey's Lucifer) to psychedelic religious pop (as with Morrisons' Invisibles) to angry iconoclasm (as with Ennis' Preacher), Vertigo proves that there is no one way to incorporate religion as either a primary or secondary element into stories. They have proven that if the stories are well written, then the audiences will come.
As for breadth and reach, there is no group that is more thorough. In addition to the more commonly received treatments of Christianity, Judaism, Norse, and Egyptian religions, Vertigo stories have also covered Navajo, Aztec, and Shinto religions. One can imagine an unspoken competition amongst Vertigo's erudite British writers to provide the most obscure doctrine or to bring forth the most forgotten Gods of yore.
Either way, I win.
From: "Religion in God Loves, Man Kills: Using the clergy as a bad guy" forum discussion page, started 2 September 2003, on "Captain Comics" website (http://www.captaincomics.us/forums/index.php?showtopic=754):
Sep 4 2003, 01:36 AM
I haven't seen too many positive portrayals [of Christian clergy] in comics recently, but Claremont has shown both positive and negative pastors. Non-Christians like Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison and J. Michael Straczynski are others who are fair in their portrayals of Christian characters.
Webpage created 11 November 2005. Last modified 9 January 2006.
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