Religious fiction is literary fiction that has a religious element. Some people tend to think of religious items of fiction as having to do with the religious affiliation of the author, but generally, experts only consider it religious fiction as it addresses religious elements in the actual work. In Western societies, religious fiction is most often fiction that addresses elements of Judeochristian religion, although smaller alternative religious groups may present their own types of literature under this general category.
One way that religion informs literature is in providing characters and characterizations. Some religious types of fiction, for example, borrow heavily from the Judeochristian notion of God, and the general attributes traditionally associated with the character or characterization of how Jews, Christians and similar religious groups think of God. The same is true for Jesus Christ, known in Judeochristian religion as the Son of God. Other religious fiction may borrow from specific narratives like the Creation story, where additional characters include Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, as well as the Serpent, known in classic Christianity as Satan or the Devil.
Other forms of religious type fiction do not address theology as such, but rather, focus on the manifestation of Christianity, Islam, or another religion over the course of its long history. Some examples would include Victorian literature with a religious element, or even a modern American setting where an authentic religious group figures prominently in a realistic plot of a fiction novel or other piece.
Religion also provides a metanarrative for fiction and other literature. Literature uses religion often to drive home a certain point, to show a certain worldview, or to propound on a theory of morality, cosmology, or other ideas central to the world community. This is sometimes known as providing a ‘moral to the story’ where some religious fiction seeks to implement religious thought through fictional accounts of theoretical situations. In some of these types of religiously oriented fiction, the religious writer would try to show the outcomes in differences between those who practice a religion faithfully, and those who do not.
One use of the term religious fiction is to properly promote and advertise books or other literature. Publishers or others may label a work as religious fiction in order to sell it or to define its sale. Readers may also look for literature according to its designation as religious fiction in a given literary marketplace.