Where is religion in the Hunger Games? There are no secret Masses, no churches, no agonized imprecations to God. Has the saga of this haunting dystopia left out religion?
Diana Butler Bass in the Washington Post:
No religion in "The Hunger Games"? The story eschews religions that glory in crusades, jihads, nationalism, militarism, and imperialism. In Panem, there is no place for religion that supports injustice. The enslaved neither want nor need such a religion. Banished are religions that celebrate bloodlust. There is too much of that already.
Yet "The Hunger Games" celebrates faith--faith in family, faith in friendship, faith in song, faith in justice. "The Hunger Games" proclaims that beyond the fences of fear built to enslave, control, and guard, there is joy, beauty, and wonder. In the end, there is true freedom, and the hard-earned hope that human beings can create a better world based not in sacrificial violence but in sacrificial love.
Bass sees the Hunger Games as celebrating humanism while eschewing organized religion. And perhaps that is Suzanne Collins' intent. But there is a deeper truth to Hunger Games that perhaps even its author didn't intend.
Hunger Games is all about religion. It is about a society ravaged by materialism, in which every shred of transcendence has been stripped. Panem is state atheism-- worship of the state, a remarkably accurate portrayal of real communist and national socialist hellholes that have cursed mankind in this past century of atheism. The worship of power, the totalitarian control of intimate aspects of citizen's lives, the reduction of civic life to banality and circuses and violence is the hallmark of atheist-materialism in power.
Stalin's Soviet Union and Mao's China and Kim's North Korea are our real world antecedents to Panem's dystopia. Hunger games resonates because we've been there, as often as we have been ruled by atheism.
Hunger Games is about atheism's inevitable totalitarian end. In that the story is very true.
But we must not forget that in the real world-- our real world infested with real Panems-- it is Christianity, not feckless secular humanism, that has been the source of hope and strength and of victory over totalitarian evil. The heart of the resistance to Communism in our time has been the Church.
There is no real humanism, and no real defense against totalitarianism, without God.