In the latest issue of Batman (Batman #53) the Caped Crusader, who is out-of-costume serving jury duty as Bruce Wayne, makes an interesting admission.
Warning, spoilers ahead!
In the story, Bruce Wayne is serving on the jury for the trial of Mr. Freeze, who was apprehended by Batman. The other jurors want to convict Mr. Freeze, but Bruce Wayne is against it. Bruce does not object because he thinks Freeze is innocent, but rather he feels that he, as Batman, used too much force when bringing in Mr. Freeze.
Bruce then has to convince the other jurors to change their minds without revealing that he is Batman.
As the conversation plays out, Bruce is asked by a Christian juror if he believes in God. Bruce's reply is that he "used to" believe.
Bruce goes on to explain that he was raised a Christian by his father, but after his parents were murdered he lost his faith. He goes on to say that after a lot of searching, he finally found something new to believe in: Batman. "God is above us. And he wears a cape," Bruce says.
"God blesses your soul with grace. Batman punches people in the face," Bruce tells the jurors. He is not the only one who saw Batman as a god, the other jurors see Batman as a god, too. Bruce has lost faith in himself, and as he speaks to the jurors, they are also convinced that Batman is not a god. Bruce ultimately wins them over to his side.
This issue is part of a story arc that sees the Dark Knight losing faith in himself and needing to rediscover who he is after Catwoman left him at the altar in an earlier issue.
Batman's faith has been a bit of a mystery over the years. Religious iconography that has appeared in the comics led a lot of people to believe that he was a non-practicing Catholic or Protestant. Depending on the writer, there have been some more overt religious references in some issues, but many fans have still speculated he was an atheist at times.
I was glad that Batman's atheism was not portrayed as negative or harmful. Writer Tom King did not use this moment to paint atheism as a depressing or sinister view. Rather, it is just a component of the story.