I was beginning to wonder if the novel, as a genre, is capable of dealing effectively with characters who genuinely hold to and draw strength from their religion. Or is there a cult of individualism so deeply ingrained in it as a form that we can only construe adherence to truths beyond the self as a form of oppression? I struggle to think of many modern novels whose characters' religion is simply part of them (aside from those like Susan Howatch's Starbridge series, where that is the point).
In the case of historical fiction, I think that many Anglo-American novelists who come out of a Christian tradition are still wedded to a secularization thesis that historians, philosophers, sociologists, theologians &c. have been critiquing for quite some time. That is, they assume that traditional religious life-narratives somehow give way, in "modernity," to alternative ways of making sense out of human experience--science being an especially popular example, but also environmentalism, the occult, artistic endeavor, other forms of self-expression (from writing to sex), politics, etc. Very macro- to micro-narrative, in other words. John Fowles' The French Lieutenant's Woman is an obvious example of this thinking in action, but it crops up everywhere--even in Dracula knockoffs, of all things. Protestant Christianity in particular tends to come under siege for being hostile to otherness: characters flourish inasmuch as they dump it in favor of something (anything) else, whether it be Catholicism or curling. (As a Victorianist, I find that fascinating, since Victorian Protestants were very insistent on thinking of themselves as both timeless and modern, unlike those anachronistic Catholics, Jews &c. over there.)