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Thursday, August 23, 2018 

Why is it such a big deal Batman be rendered an atheist?

Writer Tom King's turning the Masked Manhunter into something he'd never been officially defined as before (via CBN):
Batman doesn't believe in God... at least not in a traditional sense. The revelation comes at the conclusion of comic writer Tom King's first post-Catwoman/Batman wedding arc in Batman #53. Since Catwoman left him at the altar, Batman has thrown himself into his Bruce Wayne identity by serving jury duty - on a case where Batman might have gone too far.

It's during his efforts to prove that Batman isn't perfect that Bruce Wayne reveals some personal information to his fellow jurors. Bruce Wayne is an atheist, but that's a recent change, since Bruce just gave up the belief of his own personal god - Batman.
By which they're alluding to Bruce's apparently tossing aside the cape so Dick Grayson can take over - again like the mid-90s - in his mentor's role, as I think some news sites have noted recently. An idea which fails to resonate at this point.

Yet at the same time, it strangely appears King's implying Bruce worships himself as his alter ego, which risks making him look...insane, just the problem that's brought down the quality of the Masked Manhunter over many years. In addition to how he was rarely ever portrayed smiling or offering a sense of humor, if at all, something that may have taken hold after the Dark Knight Returns in 1986.
Batman's religious confessions begin with Bruce Wayne talking about his own theological background, raised as a Christian by his father Thomas. Though Bruce never quite believed in Christianity as a small child, he accepted it. That's until his parents were murdered and Bruce, understandably, lost faith in everyone and everything.

This isn't all too shocking to comic fans. True, Batman's religious background has shifted over the years, and members of the Bat-Family have starred in stories including their personal faiths. While he's never been portrayed as Jewish like his cousin, Batwoman, Batman is generally implied to be some denomination of Christian (be it Catholic or Protestant). The area where things become complicated (and most interesting) is where Bruce landed religiously AFTER the death of his parents.

Though Bruce Wayne doesn't out himself as The World's Greatest Detective to his fellow jurors in Batman #53, he does explain that a deep belief in Batman saved him. Batman became the symbol of morality, goodness and faith in Bruce Wayne's world. In Bruce's own words, "God is above us. And he wears a cape."
Umm, I don't think it was ever clearly stated in the past that he was atheist, and recalling how many comics creators these days seem to identify as such, it's inevitable we could assume this is just an attempt by one to hijack Bob Kane and Bill Finger's creation for the sake of his own positions. But again, it's absurd how they're making Wayne look like he's created a Temple of Batman worship. (And since this new Batwoman was only introduced a dozen years ago, what's the use of bringing her up?)

The Federalist talked more about this storyline, and what it's about, apparently doing jury duty at a trial for Mister Freeze...and exonerating him:
Instead, we see that Wayne has stopped believing in Batman, in himself. He’s lost touch with his roots, the ones planted when he chose a life of fighting crime. Batman went too far in apprehending Freeze and found his way onto Freeze’s jury—as Bruce Wayne, of course—to ensure Freeze would be found not guilty. He didn’t do so because Freeze was innocent, but because Freeze still deserved justice, which Batman had not afforded him.
I tend to find story setups like this annoying, because why must a villain be put in positions where he has to be exonerated before going off through the revolving door to give good reason to incarcerate him again? The whole notion is honestly irritating.
Batman had not just abandoned his parents’ religion, but begun behaving as though he were God. Of himself, he said, “If you define God as the infallible, the responsible … the one who determines life and death. Then yes, that is my argument. I thought he was God.” I suppose that is one form of atheism, although it’s not the traditionally accepted definition.

That was Wayne’s crisis of faith. He exalted himself before all others; he even prayed to himself. Then, suddenly, he was no longer there. The spirit abandoned the son, leaving him to wander Gotham as before, but without the belief.
Do you know how ridiculous this sounds, to be worshiping yourself? If it rings of none other than insanity, you're right, and I don't think it does any favors. There've been too many times Batman's been depicted as de facto crazy, and this is no improvement.
So Batman’s an atheist? Sure, why not? As a friend wryly noted, that wouldn’t be much of a change from his previous faith anyway. Since there aren’t any signs that he’s about to forego the symbols from that previous faith—particularly for funerals, which he does attend—we can probably just keep counting him when counting the broader membership numbers.
Okay, so maybe it's not such a big deal if Wayne's depicted as an atheist. But in a universe where he's practically fought alongside pagan deities, it's not so easy being an atheist in the typical sense.

King is even defending his story thus:

Well of course he doesn't see it as others do. That's because he's exploited Batman's books for the sake of his own belief system, and simultaneously perpetuated a big mistake that's been going on at least since the mid-90s - making Batman look like a crackpot. We've come a long way since the time when, under writers like Denny O'Neil and Steve Englehart, Bruce Wayne's personality was far better developed.

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Here we go again with all of this Bat-worship.

Honestly, him worshipping himself isn't even the most scary thing about making Batman an atheist. It essentially means he's essentially going to turn into Stalin somewhere along the line, since atheists don't HOLD to a moral code, it's all relative to them. Just look at the USSR, Robespierre's France, pretty much every place atheism has set root in and became the dominant belief system (I absolutely refuse to call it a religion). Making him an atheist, in other words, would make him no different from the Joker.

The story is not about atheism. Quite the contrary. It is about a man who lost his faith through tragedy a long time ago, but who now learns that he cannot be infallible or self sufficient and needs to reach out to something greater than himself. It is about seeking God, not losing him. As Wayne says in the story, "God blesses your soul with grace. Batman punches people in the face."

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