Religion is one of the central targets of Voltaire’s mockery. Outside of the fantasy world of El Dorado, religion is consistently depicted as corrupting and morally bankrupt. Religious figures in Candide, such as the Protestant minister, the Inquisitor, and the Jesuit Baron are often self-righteous and less inclined to charity than their secular counterparts. The one exception to Voltaire’s satire is James the Anabaptist. This stems from the fact that the Anabaptists were highly unpopular and persecuted at the time of Voltaire’s writing.
The nonexistence of religious practice in Candide, despite the prevalence of religious institutions and officials, suggests a disparity between the professed and real roles of religion.