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While watching V for Vendetta with a protestant family member (after having watched it many times myself), I immediately had to defend the movie as not specifically being anti-protestant (or pro-catholic). But, as the movie went on, I wondered about this more and more, and didn't want to defend it unjustly.

The main points are I think (all of this is arguable; some of it may be incorrect/misinformation but is what I've been told):

  • historically, Guy Fawkes is specifically anti-protestant/pro-catholic, and the movie treats him positively

  • the rhyme "Remember, remember, the 5th of November" is turned around by the movie not to mean "beware of the (catholic) treason", but to mean to remember the catholic assassination attempt as a good thing, even something to be reenacted

  • the people that V kills are presented as either stereotypically protestant or at least stereotypically Anglican (as far as I know there is little difference)

  • V leaves Scarlet Carsons for many of his victims, which are symbols of the Catholic Church.

I think that's it, so it's not a strong case by any means, but it's something I can't stop wondering about. I would love to be able to say that the movie is more or less religiously and politically neutral (aside from of course being anti-authoritarian and pro-freedom).

EDIT: I worded my fundamental question better in the comments: how can I avoid the interpretation that V is a catholic vigilante who is gaining retribution for protestants/anglicans having taken over England?

  • It's anti-establishment, and the English establishment is characteristically Anglican (or Anglicanism is characteristically English). – OrangeDog Oct 17 '19 at 16:38
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It is not as much anti-religious as anti-establishment.

V can be seen as an anti-protestant vigilante because the government is using the Church of England as one of its method of control of the population. It doesn't mean it is pro-Catholic or pro-Muslim, even if we see that possession of Quran is a punishable offence: Islam is banned because of the St Mary's attack were blamed on Muslim terrorists and the Party has rallied people under the banner of xenophobia.

Now please note that it is never mentioned that the Guy Fawkes was a Catholic fighting Protestants - he is displayed as someone willing to fight with the system because he thought that the persecution of people based on their beliefs is wrong. Which is more or less historically accurate: the Gunpowder Plot was trying to kill the unjust (in their opinion) king, not protestants; they were planning to blow up the parliament, not the Westminster Chappel

The plan was to blow up the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament on 5 November 1605,[a] as the prelude to a popular revolt in the Midlands during which James's nine-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, was to be installed as the Catholic head of state. Catesby may have embarked on the scheme after hopes of securing greater religious tolerance under King James had faded, leaving many English Catholics disappointed. [...]
On 19 February 1604, shortly after he discovered that his wife, Queen Anne, had been sent a rosary from the pope via one of James's spies,[d] Sir Anthony Standen, James denounced the Catholic Church. Three days later, he ordered all Jesuits and all other Catholic priests to leave the country, and reimposed the collection of fines for recusancy. Wikipedia: Gunpowder Plot

The movie portraits Guy Fawkes (and V) as a hero fighting the corrupted system, not someone fighting for/against certain religion, someone who is standing in defence of people persecuted for daring to be different than the system would like.

While the Church of England in the movie might be displayed as a corrupt institution, I don't believe that was the purpose of the movie - its the country that is sick, the Party that used its influence to promote a paedophile priest to the position of bishop.

Now regarding the last few points:

the people that V kills are presented as either stereotypically protestant or at least stereotypically Anglican (as far as I know there is little difference)

For me, those people are stereotypically BRITISH. Neither of them (including the bishop) is displayed as a religious figure and by looking at them I couldn't say (but then I am not British myself) are they protestant, catholic or cultists of Cthulhu: they drink tea, and say "bollocks" a lot. When God and religion is ever mentioned, it is always in the context of Party:

So I read that the former United States is so desperate for medical supplies... ... that they have allegedly sent several containers filled with wheat and tobacco. A gesture, they said, of goodwill. You wanna know what I think? Well, you're listening to my show, so I will assume you do. It's high time we let the colonies know what we really think of them. I think it's payback time for a little tea party they threw for us a few hundred years ago. I say we go down to those docks tonight and dump that crap... ... where everything from the Ulcered Sphincter of Ass-erica belongs! Who's with me? Who's bloody with me?! Did you like that? U.S.A., Ulcered Sphincter of Ass-erica. I mean, what else can you say? Here was a country that had everything, absolutely everything... ... and now, 20 years later, is what? The world's biggest leper colony. Why? Godlessness. Let me say that again. Godlessness.

Do I have to mention that the USA is a predominately protestant country? The religion is used only as a tool, a method to justify the Party's work:

Immigrants, Muslims... ... homosexuals, terrorists. Disease-ridden degenerates. They had to go. Strength through unity. Unity through faith. I am a God-fearing Englishman, and I'm goddamn proud of it!

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Short answer: YES.

Long answer: it's anti-religious in general. Or, if someone wants to be specific, anti-Christian. As in "everything that stems from the Vatican is bad".
Main two arguments for that would be the image of the papal cross, and the arrest of the TV presenter for possessing a Koran (the latter could arguably be seen as a symbol for any religion that wants to annihilate any opposition for fear it would also become powerful).

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  • I'm wondering if it's specifically anti-protestant though. Can I honestly tell a protestant that there is no specifically anti-protestant or pro-catholic message here? – Dave Cousineau Oct 17 '19 at 7:25
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    @DaveCousineau It's anti religious. Most prominent religion in England is protestantism. It's not pro-catholic. – SZCZERZO KŁY Oct 17 '19 at 8:06
  • but how can I avoid the interpretation that V is a catholic vigilante who is gaining retribution for protestants/anglicans having taken over England? – Dave Cousineau Oct 17 '19 at 19:35
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    But both the papal cross and the Vatican are symbols of catholicism exclusively - not of protestantism. So the apparent ("anti-Christian") conclusion you draw from it ("everything that stems from the Vatican is bad") seems misplaced or badly argued. – Joachim Oct 17 '19 at 19:36
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    -1, you are looking for things that are not there. The movie portrays a far-right inspired government supported by a power-hungry religious leader. The latter is not particularly anti-religious, history is littered with examples. Using the papal symbol/catholicism is likely done because it's most recognisable in the western world. Similarly, a far-right government that is anti-islam is common in the western world so it's simply recognisable. – KillianDS Oct 18 '19 at 6:38

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