Battlestar vs. religion

Evelien Heyselaar
Evelien Heyselaar

"Believe in one true god and … don’t worship false idols.”

No, this phrase is actually from a science-fiction television show. Battlestar Galactica (BSG) follows the last of the human race as they try to escape the Cylons (fanatical robots with a grudge) and find a new planet on which to settle down. However, as you enter the second season, the religious undertone starts to become much more obvious.

In the show the Cylons believe in one true god, whereas the human race believes in many gods; their deities usually named after the ancient Greek and Roman gods. The show’s producers intended this to be a twist in the storyline as the villain is usually the one who is polytheistic.

The end of season two can remind one much of the crusades, as the Cylons follow mankind to a desolate planet and then proceed to occupy it, “employing any means necessary to bring the word of God to the people.” But this article isn’t about the religious undertones of this promising television series; it’s more about the response—or lack there

of—of the viewers who have watched these undertones unfold.

Religious protests have always been present in our society. Whether it’s because a Danish newspaper published a cartoon representing the prophet, Muhammad, with a bomb as a turban the way Jews were represented in The Passion of the Christ. People tend to view certain religious issues too radically, even when there’s no real need for the issue to be taken that seriously.

For example, the production of Monty Python’s Life of Brian was banned in several countries because of the way they portrayed certain biblical signs. Life of Brian is a comedy film, not meant to be taken seriously, and yet it was banned in Italy for 11 years. People protest against movies that have subtle blasphemous ideas and messages, and yet in a prominent science-fiction television series, where they nearly literally quote the Bible every other episode, no one says a thing.

A census conducted in 2005 by Encyclopedia Britannica showed that 53.57% of the world’s population believes in Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam and Judaism). Battlestar Galactica is shown almost worldwide, not to mention that it’s a remake of a cult classic, ensuring that its viewer demographic spans generations.

How come, when the public can so easily protest a comedy film, no one mentions anything about the obvious anti-Abrahamic messaging? Where do we draw the line between what we can validly protest against and what we can let go as being fictitious enough? The “Islamic” cartoon produced in Denmark only had a small audience and yet all imports from Denmark were banned in Arabic countries.

The intent of this article is not to start a protest against BSG. It is meant to open people’s eyes to how we can abuse our right to free speech. Protesting against media to defend your religion is not wrong, but why aren’t we consistent? Why does one anti-religious media get years of protests, while another gets no attention at all. Is this fair? What’s the real reason BSG gets no attention, while Life of Brian does?

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