Kewl! The Tripods, the science fiction trilogy by John Christopher (real name Samuel Youd), is one of the stories well known and oft quoted in our household. My son even named his cat Ozzy, after the character Ozymandias. We read the books and watched the BBC TV series until the venerable VHS tape finally gave up the ghost a few years ago. We hadn't given it much thought for a while, until my son found some video clips on YouTube. It was fun rediscovering the series and covering old, familiar ground. I'll have to look around and see if the series may be found on DVD.
It occurred to me, after reading some comments on YouTube (always an intellectual treat) that the themes of the book could be interpreted as a slam at religion. I'd considered the idea before, but dismissed it, however... that was before Hitchens, Dawkins and Pullman labored to make the world safe for anti-religious bigotry, dragged it out of the closet and onto the New York Times Bestseller list.
For those unfamiliar with the story, the world has been conquered completely by aliens who travel around in gigantic tripods (okay, not terribly original, but consider it flattery to H.G. Wells) and the population are kept in line through the use of an electronic wire mesh "cap" that is stamped onto their cranium around the age of 16 (when young folk typically begin having serious rebellious thoughts) and that makes them content, docile and obedient to the tripods. The cap keeps them from thinking in certain ways, eliminates violent and deceitful thoughts, but also wonder and inventiveness. Human kind is restricted to about an 18th century level of technology. The heroes run away as their "capping day" draws near, in search of a secret enclave of human resistance, based on nothing but a rumor and a map picked up from a "vagrant" (a human whose capping has gone wrong, they are considered insane).
I never interpreted the story as anti-religious, and in fact saw the cap in much broader terms as the common tendency for the Spirit of the Age (any age) to become tyrannical and oppressive, or the readiness of people to give up thinking for themselves in exchange for the promise of peace and safety. These are human themes into which religion of one kind or another might figure... or not.
If the story was meant as a veiled anti-religious screed, it's odd that an unabashed religionist like myself would find so much in the story to relate to and delight in. To me, the Map could just as well represent Holy Scripture, the Resistance the Church, and the Cap atheistic materialism. I always assumed that once a person was capped, religious impulses would be the first thing to go.
I Googled around a bit and couldn't find any blatantly anti-religious sentiments attributable to to Mr. Youd (aka John Christopher), but I'd be interested to hear from someone who may know more.