Science fiction has always had a willingness to accept the place of religion in the future- just three examples are King David's Spaceship by Pournelle, The Cosmic Computer by Piper, and The Mote inGod's Eye by Niven. None of these make religion the center of their stories, but faith, usually a form of Christian faith, is present and considered a normal part of the human experience.
Traveller, as a science
fiction game, assumes the future of mankind. The Final Judgment has not
yet come, for God's own good reasons. Orthodoxy assumes that Man is the
Image of God, and man (plural) makes up the Church, the Body of Christ.
It further assumes that Jesus meant it when He said that the “gates of
Hell shall not prevail” against the Church. To combine the two,
therefore, is to say that if man exists in the 30th/53rd/whatever
century, so does the Church.
In my Traveller universe, I
assume several things about the Church. One, it is still One, Holy,
Catholic and Apostolic. Two, the longstanding rift between Rome (the
West) and Constantinople (the East) will at some point our future be
healed, which feeds back into point number one. Non-Orthodox (heterodox)
Christianity will also still exist, but in widely scattered and mostly
heretical groups. The demise of Mainline Protestantism and
Evangelicalism is a topic for another day. Suffice it to say I don't
think that those forms can sustain themselves into the Far Future.
Three, a large chunk of humanity will still be secular or of other
religions. Some of these religions will be familiar to us on Earth, and
some will not.
As Traveller is about telling stories, and
specifically the stories of mankind, the Church is part of that story.
Or maybe it's the other way around: one way or another, the Church's
story is everyone's story.
Where is the Church found?
Everywhere. The Church in my Traveller Universe looks much as it does on
Earth in 2013. There are more saints in the 30th century, of course.
And jurisdictions are still tangled as the movement of mankind to the
stars was not orderly. Most planets have a bishop and a number of
parishes, Star Nations have Metropolitans or Patriarchs. Space has lots
of room and places for monks to get away, so monasteries can be found
about anywhere. Monks and lay missionaries travel about converting souls
and setting up new parishes. These have gone out into all corners of
explored space; monks will settle on planets not considered worthwhile
by colonizers, to pray for the redemption of all creation, not just the
parts we humans like.
The Church will continue to do what it
has always done: Worship and Serve. Traveller characters are usually too
mobile to belong to just one parish, but depending on their travels
they may visit parishes often enough to form a relationship. It is
unlikely that a parish or monastery would hire a player character group
for a mission involving violent or criminal activity, but there are many
other ways for even non-religious PC's to become involved with the
Church. Christians who play Traveller can explore moral and spiritual
issues through their characters.
I've mentioned elsewhere
that Starports often have Christian chapels available. Some starship
liners will have resident priests aboard to serve the spiritual needs of
travelers. Shepherd Book of the sci-fi TV show Firefly serves the crew
in this fashion.
In my record-keeping (Excel is great for
this) I have created a statistic, not attached to the UPP, called the
Religion Index. It is a 10-point scale that indicates not prevalence of
faith or proportions of Christians, but th societal attitude towards
religion on that planet. The scale runs from militantly religious (think
theocratic Muslim states) to militantly anti-religious (think Stalinist
Russia) and degrees of tolerance or intolerance in between. Even an
actively religious society will have many non-Christians; they could be
of other faiths or religious devotion is encouraged by society but not
I do not intend to conceptualize or invent what
Church Rites or Liturgies will look like in the Traveller Future. I
leave that to people like Fr. Dave (at the Blood of Prokopius
blog). I will season the Church with stories of new Saints and martyrs,
for sure there will be more of them. I conclude with this example
Saint Pyotr of Iskillin, Bishop and Martyr
After preaching the Gospel and establishing parishes on Iskillin,
Pyotr suffered persecution for many months before he was finally
arrested and brought to trial before the clan head, who was a vehemently
secularist materialist. There he boldly professed Christ as King and
Lord of all, whereupon the Elder became enraged and ordered him to be
executed in a gas chamber. Pyotr stood for over an hour in prayer,
breathing in the deadly fumes without ill effect, even when the soldiers
sent in to retrieve him were overcome by the toxic gas. Pyotr then
received the crown of martyrdom at the hands of a firing squad. His
relics were recovered by the faithful and interred beneath the altar he
established. Many soldiers and officials witnessed his miraculous
survival of the gas and secretly converted to Christianity.