Religion is a common theme in LARP. Many questionnaires I fill out ask me how I feel about playing a religious character. I’ve come to interpret those questions in two ways. If there’s one religious themed character, they’re probably an evil zealot. If there are two, one is the evil zealot, the other the kindly old man.
And if the LARP takes place in the real world, the Big Bad Organization is often the Catholic Church. In a non-real setting, if religion is evil, if often resembles Catholicism, at least superficially in terms of its hierarchical structure, the clergy, and occasionally, the rituals.
I try to chalk it up to the fact that Christianity is just the most common and visible form of religion in our culture… But there seems to be kind of an anti-religious streak in the LARPing community, which makes it harder for me to simply write off this sort of thing as innocent short-cuts in writing, whether it’s writing new cultures or coming up with easy villains in period LARPs.
It’s kind of why I shy away from religious characters and plots in LARPs. I kind of assume there’s a high risk of potentially offensive stereotyping, and I’m just not interested in playing it. But maybe I’m missing out on some fun plots by avoiding them altogether.
And I’m not entirely sure what the alternative is. Nothing but the latter type of religious characters? (I.e. the kindly old men)?