Narrated by an atheist, The Quiet American takes an outsider's perspective on the religious practices and pieties of the people in Vietnam, assessing them mostly on their social utility. How well does a Cathedral provide refuge for war? How can religious belief be used to make money? How concerned are religious leaders with feeding the hungry and clothing the naked? Does confessing one's sins to a priest make one unmanly? These are the sorts of questions to which the narrator gives his report, and let's just say—he's not exactly impressed.
Questions About Religion
Does Fowler's assessment of religion evolve at all throughout the novel?
Who are the Caodaists? What did they believe?
Why does Granger say that he wishes he believed in God? (18.104.22.168)
Why does Fowler pray to a God he doesn't believe in? (22.214.171.124)
Chew on This
For Fowler, to be religious is a kind of involvement. Because he doesn't like being involved, he doesn't try out religion.
If Fowler weren't a reporter, he'd be more open to religious belief.