The Moral Substitute

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Hey, kids! Let's play Faith Redemption, the Christian-blessed alternative to Magic!

"Can't you see? You're not making Christianity better, you're just making rock n' roll worse."

Hank Hill, King of the Hill

Sometimes even Moral Guardians have to accept that The New Rock and Roll isn't going away. They can't stop people from watching/reading/playing/listening to it, and even if they succeed in instituting a Censorship Bureau, it's still not up to their standards.

Well, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. If those works aren't up to their standards, they will make works that are. And they can even throw in a message about their beliefs and views in these works. Thus they make The Moral Substitute. So now all those children can have their fun, while their responsible parents don't have to worry about that strange new music they didn't grow up on. Everybody wins and nobody loses right?

If everything works out, sure. However almost by definition creating The Moral Substitute means directly competing with what it is the substitute for, while explicitly targeting a more specific demographic. Imagine creating a competitor to Coke and Pepsi but targeting only middle-aged mothers at the expense of appeal to the general population. If that sounds like a troubling investment to you, then you see why production values tend to be lower. Adding to the complications of course is the need to produce absolutely nothing even mildly offensive to the specific demographic you are targeting. Put it all together and The Moral Substitute suffers from a reputation of being an overly bland case of Follow the Leader. And those that weren't offended by the original are very unlikely to embrace this product.

Of course if you are in the target demographic you just might appreciate something catering to you particular mindset. Cue possibly small but reliable following. Enough of this exists to keep the phenomena going as new media fads emerge.

As one might expect works may end up Totally Radical and/or Poor Man's Substitute.

In America the lead suspect for enacting this trope will be the devout (conservative) Christian demographic as the foremost Moral Guardians with substantial political pull. They are large enough to have created their own sub-culture out of this trope; nowadays one can find Christian-focused works for any medium. It must be noted, though, that this trope can apply to absolutely any point of view in existence, with examples covering the whole social-political spectrum. For example, in Russia this trope was usually enforced by the Communist Party, which created Soviet boy scouts, Soviet pop bands, Soviet action movies, Soviet chewing gum, an entire film genre that was essentially The Western in Soviet Russia to stop people from admiring all that decadent stuff from the West (didn't work this way).

Can be a Super-Trope to Christian Rock, though that genre isn't nearly as deep into this trope as the label would suggest.

Examples of The Moral Substitute include:

Anime and Manga

  • Superbook and its companion series Flying House. An all-CGI reboot of Superbook was produced and released by the Christian Broadcasting Network in 2011. Unlike the previous incarnation, Tatsunoko is no longer involved in its production.

Comic Books

  • The Eagle was launched by an Anglican vicar who saw local children reading adult-oriented American horror comics, and wanted them to read more wholesome material. Fortunately, he made sure to focus on quality, and brought out a very popular and fondly remembered comic which gave us Dan Dare.
    • Dan Dare was originally created as a sort of military chaplain In Space, but he was changed to a straightforward pilot to better appeal to children.
  • Christian fundamentalist Jack Chick spent decades writing "Chick Tracts" that laid out his ...unique... vision of fundamentalist Protestant Christianity. He explicitly stated that they were inspired by Chinese manhua.
    • The tract "Angels" actually denounces this trope. Its target? Christian rock music. All Rock 'n' Roll music is controlled by the Devil, and so-called "Christian" rock plays right into his hands. (Chick doesn't seem to have noticed the unintentional message that, at least in this case, the power of the Devil is stronger than the faith of true believers.)


  • Bob Roberts parodies this idea by having the title character as the fanatically conservative child of hippies who uses the musical style of protest songs to express his ideology.
  • Gamera was originally intended as a comparatively mild example of this—a more kid-friendly alternative to Godzilla, featuring a relatively non-threatening, Friend to All Children giant monster in a series that was lighter on the carnage and senseless death. The '90s reboot tried to move away from this origin, but Gamera the Brave whole-heartedly embraced it.
  • Some people have called Shooter a left-wing response to right-wing Eighties action movies. Ironically, the author of the book Shooter was (loosely) based on is a conservative.
  • High School Musical is a pretty tame movie series, but there is still a religious alternative: Sunday School Musical, released by The Asylum under their Faith Films imprint - although in this case, the reduced production values aren't due to this trope so much as due to the M.O. of The Asylum being reduced production values.
  • In order to counter the allegedly less-than-flattering portrayal that the 1996 film adaptation of Evita gave to Eva Perón, the Argentinean government commissioned Eva Perón: The True Story, Dueling Movies that were released that same year.
  • Deti protiv volshebnikov (aka, Kids against the Sorcerers, Children vs. Wizards) is a 2016 CGI film that could be best described as the Russian Orthodox equivalent of this trope, as it's in part a response to Harry Potter and the supposed moral degeneracy of the West. The end result however, manages to fail on all counts.


  • There is a "Christian" Goosebumps-alike. Similar cover font and art design, but all the spooky stuff turns out to be faked (because Satan has no real power), and prayer works coincidental miracles.
  • There is a Christian Choose Your Own Adventure-type series. One was on the dangers of Satanists, New Agers, and — for some reason — environmentalists.[1] One of the endings for the latter plot involved starting a Christian environmental club.
  • The rise of cheesy Airport Fantasy and techno-thrillers from authors such as Tom Clancy and Dan Brown has led to the creation of the Left Behind series, where fundamentalist Christians try to stop the Antichrist with high-tech weaponry. Many books like this start out like normal "apocalypse" books (with the usual waking up one day to find something wrong, everybody in a frenzy), but slowly everything starts becoming Jesus-related.
  • The Narnia series wasn't written as this, although C. S. Lewis was very conscious of and open about his inclusion of Christian themes in the books. However, these days (especially after The Film of the Book), it seems to be treated as such against secular kid-lit fantasy lines like Harry Potter. Still, the Narnia fanbase isn't entirely composed of Christians.
    • And, of course, His Dark Materials was written as a substitute for the Narnia books — from an antitheist viewpoint.[2]
  • The inspirational romance genre serves as the moral substitute for steamy, bodice-ripping romances. While the above link to the Other Wiki doesn't note it, leading publisher Harlequin has a successful imprint (Steeple Hill) that only turns out books of this kind using the parent company's Strictly Formula approach.
    • Taking this methodology a step farther, there exists Christian spanking porn. Of course, the makers deny that it's porn at all and prefer the term "Christian domestic discipline romance fiction". They claim it was created for Christian couples to explore what God intended for marriage (i.e. According to the makers, He wants husbands to spank their wives) without having to look at anything icky.
  • The Twelve Candles Club was a Christian — specifically, conservative evangelical — alternative to what the author saw as filth and immorality found in secular preteen novel series like The Baby Sitters Club. The approach was... odd. Basically, each book would start with a fairly standard BSC-style plotline; the characters would make it to the second-to-last chapter without mentioning religion in any way, but then, when all hope seemed lost, one of them would suggest that the group pray about their problem. They would do so, and the problem would suddenly be solved by some miraculous coincidence.
  • Some reviewers consider Twilight to be the moral substitute for other vampire and romance novels, which are generally less pro-abstinence. More than that, this series of Livejournal posts makes a pretty solid argument that it's the Mormon Alternative.
  • Frank Peretti wrote a number of novels, many of which could be considered Moral Substitutes for the paranormal/occult detective and action and adventure genres.
  • Erik, the titular phantom of The Phantom of the Opera original book, is Don Giovanni done right. Don Giovanni (and all versions of the Don Juan legend) plays Don Giovanni as The Casanova who doesn’t care if he hurts the women he claims to love and is sent to hell at the final of the opera only to please the Moral Guardians that insist Don Giovanni must be punished so that the audience Do Not Do This Cool Thing. Erik (who is a Don Giovanni Fanboy) is a similar Bastard Boyfriend who abuses Christine while claiming to love her, but after breaking Christine’s spirit and successfully blackmailing her into being her wife, let her go with Raoul by his own will after Christine gives Erik his first True Love's Kiss, showing that Love Redeems even a Psychopathic Manchild.
  • The New Basic Readers were a series of grade school primers published in the 1930s through the 1960s, featuring, among other characters, Dick and Jane. They were published for the public school market. A division of this company, the New Cathedral Basic Readers, were the Catholic School equivalent. They kept all the secular stories of the original, but would add a few religious-themed stories (i.e. the kids read a Bible story, or buy a Blessed Mother necklace for their mom, or have a nun for their teacher).
  • The Anti-Princess Series and Anti-Hero Series written by Nadia Fink and illustrated by Pitu Saá sought to challenge the traditional "princess stereotypes" exhibited by the likes of Barbie and the Disney Princess line, which young girls typically look up to but are criticised in recent years[when?] for what is perceived as shallow, saccharine and one-dimensional Disneyfied tales (though in fairness the original folk tales the Disney Princess character arcs were based on weren't all that sunshine and rainbows anyway). Instead of princes to save Snow White or Sleeping Beauty or a Fairy Godmother to come to Cinderella's aid, the Anti-Princess and Anti-Prince books portray real-world Central and South American historical figures in a realistic manner that still appeals to its target audience, though it has notably glossed over certain aspects of the subjects' lives.

Live-Action TV

  • The Jewish Superman clone "Shaloman", who'll help anyone who shouts "Oy vey!". The fact that Superman himself was inspired by Judaism and was created by two Jewish people seems to have been overlooked.
  • The Half Hour News Hour, a Fox News show that aimed to be the conservative version of the left-leaning Daily Show. Most of its humor was based around taking cheap potshots at Democrats and liberals to canned laughter, not to mention had a bad timeslot. It only got a half-season's worth of episodes.
    • Red Eye With Greg Gutfeld worked out better thanks to it having better time slots, and being more of an imitation of Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn (which wasn't a left leaning show anyway) than the Daily Show.
    • Fox News in general explicitly styles itself as the moral substitute to allegedly left-leaning news sources.
  • Arguably, all TV channels owned by the Venezuelan government under Hugo Chavez's (and his successor Nicolás Maduro) rule. All of them try, with various grades of success, to promote an "alternative" view to the "imperialist" (read: American) channels, who means that most shows are devoted to how wonderful the government is and how evil the oppressors are. One of the channels was deliberately built as an "socialist" alternative to commercial channels, and even tried to do "social" Soap Operas. It seems that the effort is not working, though; the combined ratings of all government channels are inferior to the least popular of the commercial channels, and even the directors of some of those channels admitted that they are not attracting enough viewers. Eventually some of them became what they sought to replace, channels full of foreign shows with the structure of more commercial channels, only with abundant ads and indents from the government to remind the viewers what its ideological position is. Their ratings still hasn't rised up.
  • Arguably, the requirements various countries have of a mandated amount of locally produced TV and film.
    • This was how the ultra-Canadian stereotypes of Bob & Doug Mackenzie originated. SCTV had to fill Canadian TV's extra two minutes per half-hour with "Required Canadian Content", miffed at the fact that a Canadian production, with all-Canadian writers, actors and producers was not enough in and of itself to meet requirements.
  • The PAX television network was intended to be a family-friendly alternative to the major broadcast networks, but ended up being mostly infomercials and reruns, along with Billy Ray Cyrus as Doc. It's since changed its name to ION and its programming now consists entirely of infomercials and reruns, with the occasional movie during prime time hours (including, oddly enough, Hogfather during the Christmas season). It later consisted of reruns from CBS primetime shows, including Ghost Whisperer, NCIS, and Criminal Minds, indicators of some definite Network Decay.
  • Like the Narnia example above, many of the children's shows aired by the American network PBS (Sesame Street, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Arthur) weren't intended as Moral Substitutes. However, once Saturday mornings (and, later, cable networks like Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and the Disney Channel) became increasingly filled with half-hour toy commercials and shows that certain parents and Media Watchdogs considered to glamorize consumerism and materialism, PBS Kids started to be treated as this by a number of parents who wanted their children watching more educational fare.
    • Ironically, Sesame Street itself has came under fire from some quarters for allegedly being "subversive" and "immoral".
  • Dooley and Pals is considered to be a religious alternative to Barney and Friends. The shows' plots are very similar (kids hang out with a fantasy creature, while singing songs about various topics), despite Barney being secular in comparison.
  • Bibleman is a moral substitute for superheros/superhero shows in general. Unlike some alternatives however, it is aware of how silly and campy it can get.
  • Evangelist Ty Adams has created an alternative to The Real Housewives series, called The Real Housewives of the Bible, which is supposed to profile 12 women from The Bible. It apparently emphasizes the solution instead of the problem.


  • The entire genre of White Power and neo-Nazi music, which includes rock, metal, ska and, amusingly enough, rap. Whether it can be called a moral substitute...
    • The entire skinhead movement can trace its roots back to ska. Also, keep in mind that calling skinheads racist is a great way to find out what the bottom of a pair of Doc Martens looks like—most skinheads are explicitly anti-racist, primarily because of the minority of neo-Nazis that has tarnished the scene.
    • There's also Saga, the Neo-Nazis' answer to Madonna. (Silly, but necessary, given Madonna's conversion to Jewish mysticism.)
    • National Alliance leader (and secret author of The Turner Diaries) William Pierce was well aware of the irony. He despised rock music and preferred that young people listen to classical music or opera, but was pragmatic enough to decide that if white youths were immature enough to be into the rock scene, that was what his label Resistance Records was going to give them (provided it could impart a "white power" message, of course).
  • Pat Boone made his career out of taking somewhat-racy popular music (especially Rock and Roll) and defanging it, going back to the 1950s when he released a tamer version of Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti" (which had itself been bowdlerized from Little Richard's original version, so in effect Boone defanged something already largely toothless). He rode this to become the second highest-selling artist of The Fifties, with several of his covers, including "Tutti Frutti" and Fats Domino's "Ain't That a Shame", reaching higher positions on the charts than the original recordings (though the originals are today recognized as the First and Foremost versions). He's still doing it to this day; In A Metal Mood, an album of Boone converting such songs as Metallica's Enter Sandman and Ronnie James Dio's Holy Diver, has earned a So Bad It's Good cult following (amusingly, Boone has since claimed his church threw him out for even touching metal music).
    • Little Richard recorded "Long Tall Sally" in an effort to produce a song that Pat Boone couldn't cover. Boone gamely tried, but Richard's version ended up beating his out on the charts.
  • In a curious inversion of the usual order, atheist activist Michael Newdow (best known for his challenges to the Pledge of Allegiance) released a CD of "solstice" carols with the religious elements removed for the enjoyment of his fellow atheists. Lyrics here. It's odd.
  • During the latter years of the Cold War, the Soviet government promoted the career of Dean Reed, an American expatriate living in East Germany, as an alternative to decadent "rohk" music, which had replaced decadent "jast" music on their hit-list.
  • Chris Rice parodied the concept of moral substitutes in his "Cartoon Song." He stopped playing it live in 2004 because too many people were missing the point that God wants His believers to do the praising themselves, not through their choices of entertainment.
  • Five Iron Frenzy averts the trope; they were a rock band, and they were Christians, and occasionally that would creep into their music, but they were interested in making good music first and Christian music second.
    • Surprisingly, many Christian Rock bands are subversions of this: P.O.D., Underoath, and Norma Jean, to name a few examples, are popular among Christians and non-Christians alike because their music is awesome (not that that stops Moral Guardians from harping on said bands as "safe alternatives" to secular rock). This makes it frustrating for some when people claim that all Christian Rock is Stryper.
    • However, the band ApologetiX makes blatant use of this trope, as all of their songs are based off of popular secular songs, like a Christian version of "Weird Al" Yankovic.
  • The Black Eyed Peas started out as a less violent, socially conscious alternative to the Gangsta Rap artists that dominated rap music in The Nineties. This changed once Fergie joined, with their hit albums Elephunk and Monkey Business turning them in a more party-pop-oriented direction. They did return to their conscious, politically-motivated hip hop and boom bap roots with Masters of the Sun Vol. 1, in response to the socio-political situation in the United States during the mid to late 2010s.
  • The entire Straight Edge music scene and subculture emerged as a backlash against what was perceived as out-of-control violence and drug use within the Hardcore Punk scene in The Eighties. Ironically, the militancy of some straight edge adherents led to the perception that the movement was a gang.
    • The "gang" mentality, by the way, was lampshaded clear into the stratosphere by WWE's CM Punk between 2009 and 2011. His "hardcore straight-edge" gimmick, originally heroic, took on a diabolical "cult" flavor, with Punk's followers essentially a group of skinheaded thugs and Punk himself looking disturbingly like Charles Manson (until Rey Mysterio shaved him bald).
  • "White Metal" or "Unblack Metal" is this to Black Metal.
  • In The Eighties, Televisa, then (and still) the most powerful Mexican TV network, was faced with a dilemma. As one of Mexico's self-appointed Moral Guardians, they had to ostracize any music that plays harder than 2 on the Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness to prevent the "family values" crowd from viewing them as traitors, but doing so meant losing those profitable demographics that enjoyed rock music. So they decided to Bowdlerise rock music, playing children's bands like Timbiriche.
  • Stryper is a stand-out example of Christian metal, having gained popularity even among the secular crowd, although their brand of Christian glam metal did not sit well with the more conservative Christian crowd, who viewed Stryper's faith to be anathema to the heavy metal subculture which has often been associated with satanic imagery. Japanese metal critic Masanori Ito praised the band and promoted them both in the metal magazine Burrn! and on his radio show, which led Stryper to gain a following in Japan and secure a deal with CBS Sony. And speaking of satanic imagery, Michael Sweet admitted in an interview[3] that even Satanists themselves listen to Stryper even if it's just for the music, though he did opine that the band's message would still sneak through them.

New Media

  • Conservapedia is the conservative Christian's substitute for Wikipedia, in response to what the site's founders view as left-wing, anti-American bias on Wikipedia. The site's take on things especially regarding evolution and other scientific subjects is so laughably bad that a number of disillusioned Conservapedians left the site to start RationalWiki. While RationalWiki was initially founded to throw potshots at Conservapedia, it has since become a group blog whose contributors either denounce, refute or otherwise make fun of those seen as fringe, pseudoscience or fundamentalist.
    • And it gets better: As if their staunch conservatism wasn't enough, they even had the audacity to make a "moral" substitute to The Bible which they somehow perceived as having being tainted with "liberal bias"! Called the Conservative Bible Project, it was an attempt to align the Holy Scripture to their beliefs, though it remains to be finished due to lack of editors with intimate knowledge of ancient Hebrew and Greek, and those that do know the languages were booted out for some reason. The project received criticism even from its intended conservative audience (including Jack Chick of all people) who found the idea as disgusting if not outright blasphemous.
    • There are plenty of young social conservatives too. The thing is that the 'conservative movement' as such is actually two or three different groups, with different agendas, unified primarily by opposition to the reigning social and political and economic paradigm dominated by the post-McGovern (post-1972) Democratic Party (which is itself a patchwork of New Deal/Great Society liberals and the New Left). Libertarians and conservatives are two different things, but they both dislike the current incarnation of the welfare state, for example.
    • And then there's Liberapedia, which is one part the liberal alternative to Conservapedia, and many parts over-the-top satire.
  • There's message boards for Christian Furries.
    • And for "confurvatives".


  • Air America Radio was created as the left-wing alternative to conservative talk radio, and managed to pick up such hosts as Jerry Springer and former Saturday Night Live stars Janeane Garofalo and Al Franken (a future senator). It sputtered on for several years on corporate life support (Even Neal Boortz, noted for his opposing views, donated money!) before it shut down.

Tabletop Games

  • "Christian Power Cards", a Moral Substitute for Pokémon cards, featuring characters from The Bible.
  • After a number of Christian fundamentalist extremists got it into their heads that tabletop RPGs (particularly Dungeons & Dragons) were Satanic, someone came up with DragonRaid. Ironically, the game was criticized by the same extremists despite its Christian viewpoint; they figured any fantastic roleplaying was evil.
    • Meanwhile, RPGnet actually gave it a favorable review, with some interesting commentary on the overall "watered-down substitute" phenomenon.
    • There were several attempts at Christian (TM) Games during that period, including a Chutes-and-Ladders knockoff called "Revelations", marketed to "mothers worried that your children are into games with Dungeons and Demons and The Occult".
  • The board game Kosherland, which is Candyland, but with all the candy imagery (and candy-themed cartoon characters) replaced with imagery and cartoon characters about food that orthodox Jews can eat.
    • "Uh-oh, you landed in cholent swamp; you lose a turn!"
  • Among certain circles that decried standard playing cards as featuring Satanic imagery, the card game Rook became popular as it had no imagery whatsoever... aside from the titular crow-like bird.
  • One notable immoral Moral Substitute would be the white power RPG Racial Holy War, which you can find a thorough mocking of here.
  • Redemption CCG, an obvious attempt to profit off a "Christian" alternative to Magic: The Gathering.


  • American Girl examples:
    • After the American Girl doll brand was involved in controversies over claims that the company's charitable contributions supported pro-abortion and pro-gay rights groups, several alternate doll brands popped up intending to be more moral alternatives. In some cases, they all but called out American Girl by name when criticizing "other" companies in their publicity. American Girl remained the leader in brand recognition, marketing and quality, and for the most part the imitators have since fallen by the wayside and folded with little fanfare.
    • And then there's Dolls From Heaven, a line made by a Catholic family as a way for children to be closer to God through dolls patterned after saints.
    • Maplelea Girls is Canada's answer to American Girl, focusing more about concerns about Americanism and to encourage patriotism among Canadian children as opposed to whether a particular doll line aligns to whichever religious views families stick to.
    • As a matter of fact, the American Girl dolls themselves were conceived as a moral substitute to Barbie, whom series creator Pleasant Rowland expressed disdain for being too sexualised for young girls. In what amounts to a highly ironic full-circle moment, Mattel went on to release a limited edition American Girl collector's doll based on the original 1959 Barbie in her striped swimwear and black heels.
    • Besides the aforementioned AG alternatives, this video by Savy Writes Books notes the numerous attempts by conservative Christian groups to come up with a more palatable alternative to Pleasant Rowland's creations, and there was also at least one Muslim-centric American Girl-esque doll line called Salam Sisters.
  • Barbie examples:
    • Dara and Sara, the officially-sanctioned Iranian Barbie doll substitute.
    • Muslim-majority countries get the Fulla line of dolls, which debuted in 2003 as a more palatable alternative to those turned off by the "Jewish" Barbie (the Handler family who founded Mattel, particularly Barbara Handler whom the dolls were named after, are of Jewish descent, hence the epithet). Though while the Fulla doll line did receive praise from parents for presenting a positive role model for their daughters, the Barbie line arguably still has better brand recognition and is still sold in Muslim-majority countries, even in Saudi Arabia where it was banned by the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice for a while only for said ban to be rescinded shortly after. Many an Arab woman in Saudi who grew up in the 90s and 2000s would recall spending their Eid money on a Barbie or two, or perhaps more in the case of more affluent families, and cited them as a positive influence or a fond memory of their childhood despite criticism from social conservatives who viewed the line as decadent or even perverted.[4]
    • The Lammily doll isn't as concerned with religious conservatism either, but rather to address body image and role model concerns leveled against the Barbie line. While Barbie is the idealised, fanciful depiction of a young American woman, Lammily is a more down-to-earth counterpoint to Mattel's flagship character, with proportions based off an average 19-year old girl.

Video Games

  • The game developer Color Dreams established a Christian label called Wisdom Tree (which later spun off into its own company; its parent firm shifted its focus on surveillance cameras under the trade name StarDot Technologies) and re-released their old games with new titles and Christian themes slapped on. Some notable games that they made included Bible Adventures, Sunday Funday (a rebadged version of the old Color Dreams game Menace Beach), and Spiritual Warfare (a thinly disguised Zelda clone—not half bad, but mostly by virtue of picking a good game to rip off). These games did not carry the Official Nintendo Seal of Quality, and came with special cartridges that were designed to get around the lockout chips in Nintendo's consoles.
    • It is widely believed that the reason Color Dreams turned into Wisdom Tree was not out of piety, but so that they could get around Nintendo's licensing–in fact, at least some of the developers were atheists or at least irreligious, and it is said that Color Dreams founder Dan Lawton simply came up with the shrewd strategy of selling to Christian audiences as a joke perhaps to troll both Nintendo and Christian groups. Nintendo's primary pressure tactic was refusing to sell their games to retailers that sold unlicensed games. Christian bookstores were immune to this, as they didn't stock video games in the first place. Seeing an opportunity, the newly-renamed Wisdom Tree convinced the bookstores that their games would bring kids to God, and started selling their games to them. Another theory is that Color Dreams changed their modus operandi after Nintendo sued them for selling unlicensed games—after all, what sort of evil company (and a Japanese one, at that) would hate on a Christian game developer anyway?
    • One Wisdom Tree game, Super 3D Noah's Ark for the Super NES, is particularly famous among hardcore gamers for being the only unlicensed SNES cartridge released in the US. The game was essentially Wolfenstein 3D with the guns replaced with food and the Nazis replaced with goats. (Apparently, gathering different animals was too much trouble for Noah.) An urban legend claims that id Software actually gave Wisdom Tree the Wolfenstein 3D code and SNES lockout codes just to spite Nintendo after the SNES port of Wolfenstein 3D was Bowdlerised. id Software denies this, claiming that Wisdom Tree was just another Id Tech 0 engine licensee.
  • On a more secular note, Chex Quest takes the gameplay of Doom to a more family-friendly setting, placating parents who are concerned about their kids playing disturbingly violent shooters while still being fun to play. Product Placement notwithstanding, it was later lauded by critics and Doom fans alike as a solid if not tongue-in-cheek total conversion, and gained an enduring cult following in recent years.
  • Seanbaby reviewed a Christian version of Dance Dance Revolution (entitled Dance Praise) in one issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly, concluding with an offensive but somewhat pertinent quote: "[What I learned was that] Christian anything sucks more than regular anything."
    • He also reviewed Bible Adventures and Sunday Funday. After comparing Sunday Funday's gimmick of quoting scripture versus Menace Beach's gimmick of having your girlfriend's clothes disappear between levels, he concluded that "If you suck at making things but want people to buy them anyway, crap with Jesus sells better than crap with tits."
  • A Christian Guitar Hero clone, entitled Guitar Praise, which includes a lot of groups listed on Christian Rock (and one song from a Not Christian Rock group, Flyleaf). The game was praised (no pun intended) by both Christian and secular game reviewers, though they also lamented the relative lack of polish compared to Guitar Hero and Rock Band despite the game being otherwise serviceable if not decent for its target audience.
  • There's a Catholic-themed clone of DopeWars called, yes, Pope Wars. It's somewhat tongue-in-cheek.
  • There was a PC game spawned by the Bibleman video series by a company called Covenant Studios. It played sort of like Diablo with jerky controls, sprites that moved at a snail's pace and weapons of a purely defensive nature—even the character who had a laser gun at the time. Instead, there's a clunky system to destroy enemies with random Bible passages. To top it all off, Bibleman, the character the series is named after, has to be unlocked before players can take control of him. Oddly, despite this winning combination, the purported PlayStation 2 and Game Boy Advance versions never materialized. At last check, the developers' site had disappeared off the face of the internet.
  • Parodied mercilessly in a viral campaign for Dante's Inferno, which offered a game at the complete opposite end called Mass: We Pray. And naturally, it was presented as a game using Wii-like technology. The punchline was that, whenever you clicked any link on the fake website for the game (which is now dead), you got a message more in the style of the real game informing you that performing mass without a real Catholic priest falls under the sin of Heresy.
  • People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has made a number of animal rights-themed Flash parodies of popular games.
  • Word of God claims that Ultima IV (the Trope Codifier for the Karma Meter) was intended to be this to the first 3 games, after hearing the complaints of Moral Guardians. A prime example of Tropes Are Not Bad since said game revolutionized the RPG genre.
  • Stretching the definition a little, while CD Projekt's games are just about as edgy and mature as every other AAA blockbuster video game, the company presents its business practices as a more moral substitute to the unabashed avarice shown by the likes of Electronic Arts, Take-Two Interactive and Ubisoft, who were the staple of criticism for their shady business practices such as the pervasive use of microtransactions and Loot Boxes, none of which were implemented by CDPR out of principle. CD Projekt even went on to proclaim "we leave greed to others" on Twitter.[5] Not that they weren't criticised for their labour conditions and their handling of Cyberpunk 2077 though.
  • CD Projekt's sister company is this in comparison to Steam and other content providers in that they discourage the use of DRM in favour of games released without any sort of copy protection at all, under the principle that such restrictive measures only serve to inconvenience the consumer and actually drive them into piracy. Indeed, the lack of copy protection has attracted those who are willing to buy games legitimately but are turned off by the horror stories associated with DRM.
  • The now-defunct Big Top Productions, best known for the Simpsons Cartoon Toolbox (which was published by Fox Interactive) was established in 1994 "to counter the trend toward passive children's software aimed only at boys and emphasizing violence at the expense of educational content" especially with the rise of mature-oriented titles such as Doom and Mortal Kombat among others. Their aversion to the usual fare of blood, gore and edginess was also reflected in the "Promise" section of the demo (which came with compilation discs bundled with certain pre-built computers from the era such as those from NEC): "We do not produce violent products. We do not produce titles with wars, battles, marauders or murders. We don't want to." Surprisingly enough, their site is still up to this day, albeit more as a time capsule of what the early internet was back in 1996. Former BigTop staffer Neil McAllister now works as a writer for PC World.

Web Comics

  • Filthy Figments, the "positive" alternative to Slipshine, for those who object to eroticism with men holding the strings. It's just as smutty as regular porn but it's drawn by women.

Web Original

  • Stuff Christians Like, compared to Stuff White People Like, though it leans more in the Affectionate Parody direction. This is lampshaded by its first post and in the book article: "Stuff Christians Like: Ignoring all Copyright Laws".
  • Spoofed in a YouTube video starring a troupe of rapping kids promoting the "Christian Side Hug," which avoids the "sinful" crotch contact of the traditional hug. No, as much as it might seem to be par for the course, and as much as you might want it to be, it's not even the tiniest bit real.
    • It seems like the video may not be a parody, and those guys were dead serious. It's supposed to be a parody, yet Word of God states that they were serious about keeping physical contact to a minimum.
    • And, of course, the "side hug" is a real thing which is suggested for anyone working with children, in secular or sacred settings, in hopes to avoid anyone suggesting that there's intentional "crotch contact".
  • TV Tropes: Although they formally deny it, if one reads the threads in which wiki pages are reported and judged for possibly violating TVT's content restrictions, one will see that work pages are not judged by their content but by the work they describe. One will almost never see a discussion like "Will this page as written cause us trouble with Google Ads? Can we change it so that it doesn't?" Rather, the commentary is almost universally along the lines of "the work this page describes is offensive to me, we should not even acknowledge it exists" and decisions are made on that basis alone. Regardless of what they claim to the contrary, except in the cases of certain famous works whose removal would bring (and have brought) negative press attention, TVT imposes a moral standard for the works that are allowed to appear on the wiki. That standard is determined by the Lowest Common Denominator of Squick and/or prudery found among the vocal minority who report (and demand removal of) pages.
  • So-called "alt-tech" social media sites like Bitchute, Gab and Parler attracted those from the alt-right and extreme right-wing political spectrums, especially those who've been granted Persona Non Grata status such as Alex Jones and Donald Trump among others, due to what they perceive as "politically correct" censorship from liberal, corporate-run social media sites. Stretching the "moral" definition even further was the Patreon alternative called "Hatreon" founded by right-wing extremist Cody Wilson. Contrary to claims that the site accepted "right-wing women, people of color, and transgender people," Hatreon, as the name implies, clearly caters to those sowing discord against minorities e.g. white supremacists and extremist hate groups such as The Proud Boys. Parler received increased scrutiny in early 2021 however, following the riots which took place in and around the United States Capitol. Amazon (through its Web Services division) wanted nothing to do with them and ceased hosting the service citing threats to public safety, and while the service assured its users that "our return is inevitable", House Oversight and Reform Committee Carolyn Maloney called for an FBI probe over its role in the attempted insurrection.
    • Despite being ideologically neutral themselves, Discord and Telegram were also noted by some organisations as having been used by right-wing extremist groups as well, though Discord has since shut down and banned those who sympathise with such movements.
  • While piracy is obviously a moral gray area at best, the now-defunct The Pirate Bay Clean (TPBCLEAN) billed itself as being a more modest alternative to torrent sites, particularly the original Pirate Bay, as most if not all of them are littered with pornographic content and ads for adult sites. There's an option to turn them off on TPB and the others, but for the most part adult content tends to be enabled by default, hence the initiative for a "family-friendly" alternative, besides the fact that most of the Indian programmers the author hired weren't up to doing work on a site that served smut.
  • A number of companies have formed moral substitutes to Netflix, either catering to religious communities or as a more family-friendly alternative:
    • While not necessarily meant as a "madrassa or masjid" i.e. a strictly religiously orientated streaming service, Alchemiya was billed by news sources as 'The Muslim Netflix' due to its library of content geared towards Muslims (and those interested in Arab and/or Islamic culture), with Alchemiya's founders expressing their desire to counter stereotypes propagated by mainstream film studios and streaming providers whose works often if not always portray Muslims as barbaric, backwards-thinking terrorists. Alchemiya also stated in their about page that rather than just mount a bitter (if not violent as in the case of highly-controversial works such as the infamous Innocence of Muslims film) protest, they instead chose to paint Islam in a more wholesome and empowering light by producing and distributing films, series and documentaries "that celebrate the culture, arts, people, places, ideas and achievements of Muslims past and present".
    • Ditto with the Christian streaming service Pureflix.
    • Danny Phantom creator Butch Hartman attempted to start his own family-friendly streaming service called "Oaxis", but that fell through when it was revealed that the "family-friendly" moniker actually meant it was more aligned to his fundamentalist Christian beliefs.
    • Disney+ is this for the most part, as they do not carry any R-rated content. It is averted internationally, however, as their Star section features R-rated films. Not to mention that films whose content would otherwise be unsuitable for the platform such as X-Men: Days of Future Past, which contains both nudity and the word "fuck", have started to be aired uncensored in 2020.
    • Bentkey was launched as a youth-oriented video-on-demand service by conservative media company The Daily Wire as a counter to perceived "wokeness" and liberal bias by Disney,[6] complete with ripoffs of both Snow White and Bluey. Unsurprisingly, some have called into question the motives behind Ben Shapiro's children's media outlet especially considering the ideology being pushed.

Western Animation

Rod Flanders: "No, you just winged him and turned him into a Unitarian!"

    • Which isn't really fair to Graham, because he's stated that he has respect for other religions even though he ideally wants them to convert to Christianity. His son, on the other hand, is indeed something of a blockhead.
  • The first King of the Hill Halloween episode had a Moral Guardian do her best to destroy the holiday out of her belief that it's Satanic. Instead she offered up a "Hallelujah House", which served mainly to beat children over the head with Christian aesops (like "Premarital sex kills instantly").
    • The page quote comes from an episode where Bobby gets interested in Christianity due to a group of devout skateboarders. Hank spends most of the episode looking kind of bad (since he started off wanting Bobby to care more about their faith, but hates the direction he's taking), but in the end he explains that he just doesn't want Bobby to treat something that important as a mere fad, like his long-forgotten Troll Dolls and Tamagochi.

Other Media

  • Branson, Missouri, in the words of The Simpsons, is "Vegas if it were run by Ned Flanders." [7] To explain: the city offers elaborate hotels, shopping, and tons of live shows, but there's no gambling or "party scene". The shows focus on G-rated entertainment, especially musical revues—oldies, country, and Broadway are the most frequently appearing genres. Other shows include grand-scale musical adaptations of Bible stories, and such headliners as Andy Williams (Nelson Muntz's favorite!), Yakov Smirnoff, the Oak Ridge Boys, Tony Orlando, and Jim Stafford.
  • There have been "alternatives" to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts from every direction. The Soviet Union, for instance, had the Pioneers, and Nazi Germany had the infamous Hitler Youth. A number of churches have also created their own "scouting" organizations, such as the Pathfinders (Seventh Day Adventists), the Royal Rangers for boys and Missionettes for girls (Assemblies of God), and Awana (Southern Baptists). More recently, due to the increasingly conservative bent of the Boy Scouts of America (not surprising, since Lord Baden-Powell came up with the idea during one of Britain's imperial wars of conquest, and "scouts" throughout history have traditionally been connected to the military), there are also a few scouting organizations that have sprung up with the aim of being more accepting of gays, lesbians, and non-Christians.
    • The Boy Scouts themselves were partly inspired by an organization called the Boys' Brigade, which was (and is) an explicitly Christian youth organization. Therefore, the Boy Scouts were the "less moral" substitute (which is pretty funny when you consider the controversy over their views on religion and homosexuality). Also, as the name suggests, the Boys' Brigade has even stronger military overtones than the Boy Scouts: humorist Clive James, who was a member of both groups in his youth, commented that the Scouts emphasize "woodsy lore" and the Brigade prefers "parade ground drill." For example, the adult organizers of the Brigade are called Officers (with the ranks of Lieutenant and Captain), and younger members can become Non-Commissioned Officers, with ranks running from Private through Staff Sergeant.
      • Also important is the increasingly close links between the Boy Scouts of America and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, i.e. the Mormons. Although the BSA is hardly run by the LDS Church, a large proportion of its senior leadership is LDS, which explains why the BSA has been holding so closely to conservative interpretations of Scouting's founding documents (neither the European nor the Canadian Scouts, for instance, have any problem with atheist, gay, or lesbian scouts and scouters).
      • And then, to bring things full-circle, in 2013 the BSA ended the restriction on gay scouts and allowed troops to select gay leaders. This prompted the founding of Trail Life USA.
    • In Norway, there were two Scout groups, the KFUM/KFUK scouts (Christian), and the NSF (mostly Christian). However, the NSF was the one to operate on a semi-official basis, because unlike the KFUM/KFUK, it was not sex-segregated when whoever it was made the pick. The KFUM/KFUK scouts has since stopped their segregation and the NSF and KM (their new name) co-operate on nearly everything.
  • Several churches, appalled at the pagan influences of Halloween and the monsters seen in traditional haunted houses, have taken to doing "Halloween alternative" parties like the "March of Saints" as done in Catholic parishes in the Philippines and elsewhere, in which children disguise themselves as Biblical characters or saints. Some take this to extremes by setting up "hell houses," in which the attendees are shown scenes meant to portray the decadence of secular culture, finally ending in a room occupied by Satan, claiming that all of the characters they had seen are now firmly in his grasp. In the worst of these, the Hell House is marketed as a normal haunted house, and is thus a Bait and Switch, and in some the attendees must either agree to be saved (i.e. become born-again Christians) or must traverse the length of the building in order to get out. The whole concept is savagely mocked in a Something*Positive sequence starting here. Perhaps more common are the Harvest Parties, which feature game booths, contests, and the requisite candy, typically hosted in whatever part of the church has an open floor and forgoing the ghouls-and-ghosts theme.
    • Alternatively, some who do celebrate Halloween instead made it a point to dress up as fictional characters or celebrities in lieu of the usual ghoulish if not outright demonic costumes, either due to religious concerns or simply because the aforementioned occult or monster costumes can be disturbing to some regardless of beliefs.
    • Christmas and Easter had some pagan influences as a matter of fact, like the Christmas tree being derived from a pagan tradition. Legend has it that Saint Boniface witnessed a pagan gathering where a group of people dancing under a decorated oak tree were about to sacrifice a baby in the name of Thor. Boniface took an axe and chopped the tree in the name of Jesus. Behind the fallen tree was a baby fir. Boniface said, "let this tree be the symbol of the true God, its leaves are ever green and will not die." The tree's needles pointed to heaven. From then on, Christmas trees became a quintessential symbol of the holidays; despite being criticised by some as out of place in the Vatican, Pope John Paul II declared the Christmas tree as a symbol of Christ, exalting the value of life.
  • Some parents who school their children at home do so because they perceive public school as un-Christian or un-whatever their religion/worldview is. Depending on the parents, homeschooling can actually be a better choice for the child, since the child can learn at a more personalized pace, but with the parents also pushing the child more often to do better than teachers might.
  • Christian BDSM.
  • Heritage USA, part of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker's PTL media empire, was planned as the Christian version of Disney World, and wound up becoming fairly popular after its opening in 1978. Today, however, the park is best known for playing a role in the scandal that led to Jim Bakker's downfall and subsequent imprisonment. The park was closed in 1989, and parts of it have since been redeveloped (mostly by various ministries), while the rest lingers in various states of decay.
    • Disneyland itself is envisioned by Walt Disney to be a more developed and wholesome counterpart to the sleazy and disused Crappy Carnivals of the 1950s. His approach worked so much that it set a high standard to which other theme parks are expected to follow.
  • The American Center for Law and Justice is a Christian conservative counterpart to the ACLU founded by Pat Robertson that litigates for pro-Christian, pro-life issues.
    • It is important to note here that the ACLU also does work defending the civil liberties of Christians in regards to the free exercise of their beliefs.
      • Sometimes. Their track record on even-handedness is very uneven, both between various State chapters and between the local organizations and the national organization. As with all advocacy organizations, they have their own biases.
  • For people who believe proprietary software is evil, Linux and other free/open source software can be a secular example. Quite a few packages exist solely to replace popular proprietary software, such as GIMP for Paint Shop Pro or Adobe Photoshop.
    • Worth to note that most of these were never meant to be Moral Substitutes. GIMP, for instance, was created because Adobe doesn't port (Photoshop) or only lazily ports (*cough*flashplayer*cough[8]) its products to Linux, which in turn was made mostly out of monetary reasons.
  • The Church of Reality is a secular humanist alternative to religion, for people with an emotional or cultural need for religion but no belief in the supernatural.
  • A whole industry of vegetarian products exists to provide replacements for burgers and bacon, among others.
  • Nazi Germany pushed "moral" (for lack of a better word) substitutes throughout the arts and sciences.
    • Early on, the Nazis advocated "Deutsche Physik" as an alternative to the physics mainstream, which they felt to be too dominated by Jews like Albert Einstein. It fell out of favor in the late '30s once the sturdiness of the "Jewish physics" became apparent even to many Nazis. If there's any consolation to it, Hitler's insistence on eschewing "Jewish physics" also played a role in the failure of their nuclear weapons project.
    • After the Nazis clamped down on "entartete kunst" (degenerate art) following their rise to power, they pushed art that upheld "blood and soil" themes of militarism and racial purity, often infused with classical Greek and Roman influence. Hilariously, as pointed out, an exhibition of the banned art (the only legal venue for such work) to show the German people how evil and Jew-corrupted it was wound up attracting far more visitors than a nearby exhibition of Nazi-sponsored art.
    • Arguably, fascism itself, as its proponents saw it as this towards socialism. It combined many of its economic proposals (broad populism, state control of industry, etc.) and its revolutionary spirit with ultra-nationalism and reactionary social views, in sharp opposition to socialism's international worldview. In Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler described both capitalism and socialism as two sides of the same coin, i.e. both controlled by Jews, and both needing to be destroyed. It's not for nothing that the Nazis called themselves the "National Socialists", the "National" part differentiating them from the "subversive" international socialists that they viewed as destroying Germany.
  • Similar to Nazi Germany's "Deutsche Physik", the Soviet Union under Stalin pushed Lysenkoism as a more acceptable alternative to evolution by natural selection, which they felt was too capitalistic ("survival of the fittest" and all that). It was abandoned (along with much of Stalin's legacy) after Nikita Khrushchev became Premier, due to the fact that it had proven itself to be a total failure as a scientific theory.
  • A number of Christian motorcycle clubs and ministries[9] have sprung up as an answer to the Hells Angels and similar biker gangs, offering the same sense of brotherhood and interest in motorcycles (mostly Harley-Davidsons, though some accept bikers with "metric" or foreign-made bikes), all while serving God and teaching the Gospel instead of the usual decadent and sometimes criminal nature common with biker gangs. Some went so far as to adopting the two or three-piece patch, but this didn't occasionally bode well with regular outlaw bikers, as what motorcycle ministries found out the hard way.
  • Lebanese-born Australian fashion designer Aheda Zanetti came up with the burqini (or burkini) in the 2000s as a Muslim-friendly substitute for women's swimwear, combining the comfort and flexibility of a regular swimsuit with the modesty of a burqa. It unsurprisingly attracted controversy especially in France where head and body coverings are banned due to laws on secularism in the country where people are expected to abide by a "religiously neutral arena", though said ban was also ridiculed even by Western and liberal Muslim commentators--British Muslim activist Maajid Nawaz provided a critique of both the burqini and the ban, saying "Burkini is sad symbol of Islam today going backwards on gender issues. Banning it is sad symbol of liberalism today going backwards in reply." The burqini has also been adopted by non-Muslim women such as Orthodox Jews and skin cancer survivors or those with a high risk thereof, as it allows them the flexibility of swimwear and the protection of wearing full clothing.
  • Besides offering insurance to Catholics who often worked in dangerous jobs, the Knights of Columbus was also established by American Catholic priest Michael J. McGivney as an alternative to the Freemasonry, whose secretive nature, tenets and adherence to deist beliefs led to animosity from numerous religious groups who either view the Masons with contempt or condemn them as an occult or even a satanic cabal. McGivney believed that Catholicism and fraternalism were compatible and wanted to found a society to encourage men to be proud of their American–Catholic heritage.
  • The SoulCore exercise movement was founded by those who used to practice yoga, but are disillusioned by its perceived effects on their Christian (i.e. Catholic) faith, especially when Pope Francis cautioned the faithful against the (perceived) spiritual dangers of yoga. Similar "Christian asana"/"Christian yoga" movements have sprung up as well, though they have also been criticised as a form of cultural appropriation by Hindu groups.
  • Self-styled "Bitcoin millionaire" Erik Finman launched the FreedomPHONE in 2021 as a conservative response to smartphone platforms developed and operated by what is perceived by right-wing and/or conservative groups, particularly that of Donald Trump supporters, as censorious mainstream tech companies, especially when Trump became a social media pariah in the same year due to his role in the attempted insurrection in Washington D.C. In keeping with its appeal to the alt-right, Finman touts the device as "free speech and privacy" above anything else, and has the phone bundled with many alt-tech apps such as Newsmax, Parler, Rumble, DuckDuckGo, and OANN as well as the tracking blocker ClearGM. The irony is not lost when it was revealed that the phone was merely a rebadged Umidigi A9, a low-end Chinese handset with an anaemic MediaTek system-on-chip being sold for an extortionate price.
  • The American mobile provider Patriot Mobile was founded in 2015 as a conservative Christian counter to perceived liberal bias by major telecom providers, to the point that they'd associate themselves with prominent right-wing groups and write up loads and loads of drivel about how liberals are (supposedly) ruining America, and to top it all off, their undying obsession with firearms. Never mind the fact that the devices they sell come from companies with decidedly progressive leanings; T-Mobile was criticised for leasing their capacity to such a questionable organisation, but they scoffed off said criticism as they're a utility company with no jurisdiction on who to serve regardless of ideology.

Real Life


  • The Soviet Union formed the Spartakiads from 1928 to 1937 as they initially branded the Olympics as "bourgeois". The event was put on the back burner when World War II broke out; after the war, they finally relented and sent a team at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952. They still continued to hold Spartakiads within the Soviet Union up until 1991.
  • In response to the rash of political drama spilling over to the Olympics, particularly the wave of tit-for-tat boycotts such as the United States-led boycott of the 1980 Games in Moscow following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, as well as the retaliatory boycott by the Soviets in 1984 in the Los Angeles Olympiad, American broadcaster Ted Turner (of CNN and Captain Planet fame) organised the Goodwill Games, a charitable sporting series made with the intent on providing a much less politicised alternative to an event which Turner felt has degenerated more into national or Cold War posturing than sport.

  1. Perhaps a misinterpretation of the Gaia Hypothesis as a call to pagan Earth-worship.
  2. Strictly speaking, any fiction that doesn't mention a deity can be considered atheistic or at least secular, but that's not the case with the HDM series.
  3. MICHAEL SWEET of STRYPER: Giant Coffee Machines in Heaven, Satanist Fans, Equality, More
  4. Barbie at 60, and how she made her mark on the Arab world
  5. CD Projekt Red: "We leave greed to others"
  6. Which is notable considering Walt Disney himself harbouring conservative leanings to the point of participating in the Red Scare. Hadn't his colleagues at Universal Studios betrayed him when he was fighting for better money…
  7. Unless, of course, you take the wrong bus and end up in Bronson, Missouri...
  8. (It was infamous for crashing any Linux browser outside Firefox... and even that on its bad days, amongst other problems.)
  9. Motorcycle Ministries