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The Walking Dead kicked off its eighth season with a war—or, at least, the start of one. Rick (Andrew Lincoln), the show’s flawed protagonist, and his cadre of followers has allied with a couple of other factions (Hilltop and the Kingdom) to take down the gleefully evil Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his band of Saviors. He suggests it’ll be a winner-take all showdown—a tiny Armageddon-like showdown in the middle of a zombie apocalypse.

Funny how the show’s title is “Mercy.”

The Walking Dead has always been preoccupied with issues of faith and morality. For all its obsession with blood and bone and meat, the AMC hit has always been about the soul, and it gives us a brutal crucible in which that soul can be tested to its breaking point and beyond.

Perhaps it shouldn’t surprise us: This is a show that talks a lot about faith: Characters can hold deeply held beliefs, and factions—the Kingdom, the Saviors—carry with them a certain liturgical tang. It even features a character nicknamed Jesus. At its heart, The Walking Dead is one of the most religious shows on television. Let’s take a look at some of the bloody lessons it preached this Sunday.

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