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Well the preacher tried his best

To keep the girl in line

She undermines all that he believes

The beast could not be caged

And the daughter has her way

The souls of town, they could not be saved!
3 Inches Of Blood, The Preacher's Daughter

All children are individuals who exhibit good and bad behavior, regardless of what their parents do for a living.

Except these kids.

If you're a preacher's kid in fiction, you're either a perfect little angel or--more commonly--a beastly little devil more devoted to mischief and/or promiscuity than any kind of religious study. Bonus points for being the latter while people think you're the former, an ability no doubt gained from your years of living under a household where learning to hide your extracurricular activities proves to be a tad bit more important than mathematics.

Of course, in actuality preacher's kids run the gamut in personality traits, but their screw ups tend to be far more public. Think about it: If you're the child of say, a chef, and you're caught doing something morally ambiguous or even downright illegal how many people in your town would really care? (If you're a bad cook on the other hand...) But if you're a preacher's kid? Let's hope you didn't inhale. From the kid's perspecive, it might be because everything is Forbidden Fruit. Making something morally off-limits only makes it more tempting for many kids to do.

Subtrope of The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes (for the beastly kind).

Examples of Preacher's Kid include:


Type 1: Angelic

Film

  • The kids in The Preacher's Wife.

Literature

  • Dane O'Neill, of The Thorn Birds fits into this category, subverted somewhat, because he is unaware of his parentage.

Live Action Television

  • George Michael's girlfriend Ann Veal in Arrested Development is a Type 1, although she makes the occasional foray into Type 2 (Played for Laughs, of course, as her conception of Type 2 is still through Type 1 glasses).

Western Animation

  • If you extend this trope to the children of the extremely religious in general, Rod and Todd Flanders are an example.

Type 2: Diabolic

Anime and Manga

Film

  • In the movie based on Michael Shaara's Civil War novel The Killer Angels, one of the soldiers from the 2nd Maine regiment transferred to the 20th Maine is introduced to Colonel Chamberlain as a preacher's son and "the best damn cusser you ever heard. Knows more fine cuss words than any man in Maine!"
  • Footloose provides an example of this with Ariel Moore who rebels against the town's and her father's rules against dancing, alcohol, controversial books, etc.
  • Holly in Keeping Mum is a minister's daughter who has casual premarital sex and has a new boyfriend every time she enters a scene.

Literature

  • In old Russian novels, you can sometimes find "you son of a priest" as an insult -- see possible explanation under Real Life below. [1] In Greece there's a proverb that translates into: "Priest's kids, devil's grandchildren".

Music

  • Tori Amos. One of her songs, "Icicle", is about masturbating while her father conducts a service downstairs.
  • XTC's song "No Thugs in Our House" is about a judge's son who, unbeknown to his parents, is a neo-Nazi.

Mythology and Religion

  • Older Than Feudalism: Eli was a renowned priest and judge. His two sons by birth were corrupt ministers who had respect "neither for the Lord; nor for the priests' duties for the people; they treated the offerings to the Lord with disdain" (1 Samuel 2:12b,13a,17b). The priesthood eventually went to the adopted son for whom the book is named.
    • Apparently a real problem with the holy men of ancient Israel, as Samuel also had his kids go bad (1 Samuel 8:2,3).
    • Also, the very first High Priest, Aaron (the brother of Moses), had two of his sons mess up (Leviticus 10:1,2). The immediate pronouncement of a decree from YHWH about not drinking "wine or strong drink" when doing priestly duties has led some scholars to speculate that alchohol may have been involved.

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • Jessica Lovejoy on The Simpsons, a juvenile delinquent. Although Reverend Lovejoy himself is a pretty terrible preacher.

Real Life

  • In Tsarist Russia, children of Orthodox clergy were very disproportionately represented in the fields of revolutionary movement, materialist philosophy and natural sciences (one explanation of this fact is that they transposed religious attitude to secular ideologies). From a conservative standpoint, "priest's son" was pretty much synonymous with "iconoclast and troublemaker." In addition, many noblemen's sons who went to universities found it humiliating to be taught by professors of such lowly origins, and mocked science and university education as a bunch of Techno Babble invented by bearded priests' sons.
  • Gudrun Ensslin, one of the founding members of the West German leftist terrorist group Red Army Faction, was the daughter of a pastor.

Type 3: Other

Anime and Manga

  • Kimberly, a character from a Christian manga series named Serenity, is the adopted daughter of a minister and helps run a Christian youth group, but she is portrayed more-or-less as Alpha Bitch and spends most in the series in a love triangle with her boyfriend and the title character.
  • Kyoko Sakura was Type 1 until her father committed Pater Familicide and she became cynical, but nowhere near as mind-blowingly diabolical as Type 2. She goes back to Type 1 (or rather, the Type 1 she was between making her wish and the wish going awry) after Kyubey lets slip the Awful Truth about Puella Magi.

Comic Books

  • In the Wilhelm Busch story about Saint Anthony of Padova. The bishop has to decide whether Anthony is worthy to be a saint. Anthony asks a boy who's supposed to be mute who his parents are. The boy starts: "The bishop Rusticus is -" and is instantly interrupted by the bishop who decides that Anthony is indeed worthy.

Film

Literature

  • In Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature, one of Mena's nemeses is the preacher's daughter.
  • The Meredith kids featured in Rainbow Valley.
  • The diciple Levi-Matthew in The Bible. He was a member of the all-peachers Levite tribe who turned to tax collecting, a desipsed job. Yes, this trope predates Christianity.
  • Both Steve Ellerby and Mark Brittain in Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes. Each of them ultimately subverts one of the extremes: Steve is both clearly a good guy from the outset, and not even nearly as irreverent as he comes off at first. And Mark's nowhere near as pure as he'd like everyone to believe.
  • Sefalet more than Anglitora in Dirge for Prester John. Sefalet is both angelic and diabolic.

Live Action TV

  • All the Camdens on 7th Heaven. Which end of the spectrum they tended to was directly related to how old they were that season.
  • English DJ and presenter of the UK version of Pimp My Ride, Westwood, also known as Timothy Westwood, son of the Anglican Bishop of Peterborough Bill Westwood.

Music

  • Marilyn Manson.
  • Katy Perry also grew up as one of these, and was originally a Christian pop singer before her mainstream turn. Let's just say, her parents were pissed when they first heard "I Kissed a Girl".
    • With what she said about Lady Gaga's "Alejandro" music video, she might not be so divergent from her Christian roots as she appears to be.
    • Also, one of the reasons for her divorce from Russell Brand was said to be the fact that he often makes jokes at the expense of Christianity.
  • Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy is the son of a bishop. Would you guess that from listening to Casanova, an album about... well, look at the title? (He did also write the theme music to Father Ted, mind you).
  • Alice Cooper and Sheryl, his wife. They are devout Christians, much to the surprise of many fans and even Christians themselves.
  • '90s One-Hit Wonder Adina Howard started her career singing for the choir of her local church... until one day, when her clothes mysteriously vanished.
  • Know that slightly suggestive 70's hit song "Ring My Bell"? Singer/writer Anita Ward is actually a preacher's daughter.
  • Marvin Gaye's father was first a Seventh-Day Adventist and then a Pentecostal minister in D.C. He eventually fatally shot his son after an argument.
  • Billy Ray in the song "Son Of A Preacher Man" made immortal by Dusty Springfield, which focuses on a young romance with one of these. It's even more awesome when you hear the gay version by Cam Clarke. Son of a preacher man sneaking around behind his daddy's back... with another boy!
  • Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach".
  • Jessica Simpson

Radio

  • Donna Barkley of Adventures in Odyssey had to wrestle with this trope, but otherwise she's a fairly normal girl.

Stand-Up Comedy

  • Sam Kinison wasn't just a Preacher's Kid, he was a Preacher himself before going into standup.

Western Animation

  • Toki Wartooth hits both ends of the spectrum. He's the most innocent, childish, and kind-hearted member of his group... then again, his group are world-famous death-metal rock stars, and he is prone to increasingly frequent Freak Outs and bouts of Unstoppable Rage.

Real Life

  • James Herriot mentions that in during his RAF training, one of the cadets singing the bawdy songs loudest was the son of an archbishop.
  • John Cho's father is a minister in the Church of Christ.
  • Pornstar Melrose Foxxx is the daughter of a preacher.
  • Baptist Preacher William J. Murray is the chairman of the Religious Freedom Coalition, author of books such as The Church Is Not For Perfect People, Let Us Pray: A Plea for Prayer in Our Schools, and The Pledge: One Nation Under God. He is the son of (in)famous atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair, and pressured the police to find out what happened to her.
  • Inversion: Maria von Trapp, inspiration for The Sound of Music, did indeed intend to become a nun. She was brought up by a socialist atheist.
  • On another tack, Friedrich Nietzsche's father and maternal grandfather were both Lutheran ministers. Naturally, he grew up to be a harsh critic of Christianity, more or less painting it as the worst thing ever to happen to Western civilization. [2]
  • Jim Bakker, the controversial televangelist who ended up going to prison for fraud had a son, Jay Bakker. Jay's faith flip-flopped, resulting in some trouble with the law before he returned to Christianity and became a minister himself. He is now the head of a pro-gay marriage alternative church in New York. He was the focus of the Sundance channel's One Punk Under God documentary series.
  • Martin Luther King Jr was one. He followed in his father's footsteps and became a minister himself. His children were of course Preacher's Kids as well and some of them also became ministers.
  • Malcolm X was the son of a minister. He too became a minister like his dad but of the Muslim rather than Christian faith.

Notes

  1. Russian Orthodox priests are allowed to marry and have kids, unlike Catholic priests.
  2. This is a bit of an exaggeration, but not too much, and in any case Nietzsche would probably approve.
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