How is literature connected with religion?

While in modern times, people value the separation of church and state, in the old days, no such separation existed. Many of the greatest writers from the period from the 1400s through the mid-1800s were very religious; some were ordained ministers or scholars of religion, and even those who were skeptical of the dominant religion were still influenced by the practices in the culture of their time. Given that pervasive religious atmosphere, the influence of religious beliefs could be seen even on authors who had a secular job, such as being a businessman or working for the government. Religious themes were very evident in the writings of such well-known authors as Geoffrey Chaucer ("Canterbury Tales," for example) or in John Donne's Sonnets, or in the stories written by American author Nathaniel Hawthorne (such as "The Scarlet Letter"). Even William Shakespeare, who by most accounts was not very religious, still used certain themes that could be found in the Bible.

In fact, the plots of some of the best literary works in England, and then in the United States, continued to draw on religious themes. Even if they had a secular subject like a character's search for love, the story might also address temptation and sin, or it might feature a battle between a good character and an evil one, or have a Christ-figure who is betrayed. And if the theme did not come from Scripture, many works contained allusions (references) to people and events in the Bible. To this day, even in our more secular world, authors and song-writers may still refer to Biblical characters because these stories are so widely known in the culture. And the same is true in Hindu or Buddhist or Muslim countries, where stories and personages from the scriptures are sometimes referenced in a play or a poem or a song.