Orange Is the New Black is a show set in a women’s prison. Due to the show’s environment, themes of power and submission are always at play and evident in many different forms. In Orange Is the New Black, religion is portrayed to be a force that binds people to a leader and is used to force others into submission. This show highlights how religion has been used to mobilize and brainwash people throughout history.

All throughout the first season, Tiffany Doggett (dubbed Pennsatucky) leads a small group of other inmates in prayer and other Christian rituals. She views the people who believe her teachings as intelligent, moral, and superior to all the other “sinners” in the prison who do not. These views are manifested as dangerous threats in Episode 12 of Season 1 when Pennsatucky threatens to kill Piper Chapman, another inmate, for not believing in Christianity. Claiming that Jesus wants her to kill Piper for not believing in God, Pennsatucky continually threatens Piper’s life throughout the episode. Once, she, with the help of her unquestioning followers, corners Piper in a shower and threatens her with a shiv. Piper was only saved from injury because a guard happened to be nearby. Later in the episode, however, Pennsatucky finds Piper again alone in the dark and corners her outside (where no one can hear her) and begins to jab at her with a sharp stick (that is the end point of a cross). There is a lot of symbolism and allusion to how people abuse religion to carry out actions that are contradictory to the religion in this show. Here, for example, Pennsatucky tries to kill Piper with a cross–a symbol of a religion that values peace and considers murder a sin. Despite the apparent hypocrisy, the comment about religion is relevant because it is an accurate representation and critique of what often happens in society, both in the past and still today.


Pennsatucky dressed as an angel showing Piper her cross shiv