For Freud, the relationship between fathers and sons is the essential key to understanding religion. Sons are diminutive beings before their fathers. Sons struggle to establish their independence from his power and authority. The movie Star Wars illuminates the struggle. It is a story of a young boy becoming of age and facing choices between good and evil. Young Luke Skywalker is terrified to learn that his father is the malevolent Darth Vader. If Darth Vader is his father, then does Skywalker have evil within him? Can he become independent of his father and turn toward the good? Will the father murder his son, or will the son murder his father? Is it the binding of Isaac again or Oedipus Rex revisited? Luke Skywalker has encountered a naked and horrifying reality. Here are some other examples of fathers and sons.
Martin Luther (1483-1546), the father of the Protestant Reformation, transformed his allegiance from his harsh earthly father to an angry heavenly father. Luther was raised by stern and strict parents. Thus, creating a guilt-ridden son. His father wanted him to be a lawyer, but he sought solace in religion. The pivotal event from law to religion, from his biological father to his heavenly Father, was a thunderstorm. On July 2, 1505, a bolt of lightning struck close to him. In trembling fear, Luther promised God that he would devote himself entirely to God. Erikson writes:
"At its height, Luther’s rebellion centered in the question of man’s differential debt of obedience of God, to the Pope, and to Caesar…..At the beginning of his career another and, as it were, preparatory dichotomy preoccupied him: that between the obedience owed to his natural father, …. and the obedience owed to the Father in heaven, from who young Luther had received a dramatic but equivocal call." 
Likewise, Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) had an estrangement with his father. Thomas Lincoln could only sign his name and was unlettered. David Hebert Donald writes: “In all of his [Abraham Lincoln] published writings, and, indeed, even in reports of hundreds of stories and conversations, he has not one favorable word to say about his father.” Lincoln escaped and established his independence with education. His “unquenchable ambition” propelled him from his father and placed him in a world his father never imagined.
Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) was born in Austria. Alois, the father of the future Führer, was a "hard, unsympathetic, and short-tempered" man. The young Hitler hated his father. They had frequent and violent arguments over his future career. His father wanted young Adolf to be an Austrian civil servant like himself. The son wanted to be an artist. When Alois Hitler died in 1903, Adolf left for Vienna. With War World I erupting, Hitler did not volunteer to join the Austrian army, but the German army. According to Walter Langer, Austria represented his hated father since his father was an Austrian custom official while Germany represented his mother. Langer writes that "although Germans, as a whole, invariably refer to Germany as the 'Fatherland,' Hitler almost always refers to it as the 'motherland.'" War meant that Hitler could fight for the "motherland." With Hitler’s invasion of Austria (1938), and according to Hans Frank (a high-ranking Nazi within Hitler’s circle), Dollersheim, the birth town of Alois Hitler was used as an artillery testing field. It was totally obliterated and today, the town can only be located on maps prior to 1938. Patricide takes many forms.
Barack Obama (1961) entitled his book Dreams from My Father. When he was two years old, Barack Obama Sr. abandoned his son to continue his education at Harvard University. It was later, and after a divorce, he returned to Africa. When Barack Obama was ten years old, he spent a month with his father. During that short month, they had a strained relationship. In 1982, Barack Obama Sr. was killed in a car accident in Kenya. The memoir begins by describing how his family members created an image of his dad as larger than life. With the same name, abandonment issues, and American racism all created a struggle for both independence and acceptance from father. The future president Barack Obama writes:
"Yes, I’d seen weakness in other men --- Gramps and his disappointments, Lolo and his compromise. But these men had become object lesson for me, men I might love but never emulate, white men and brown men who fates didn’t speak to my own. It was into my father’s image, the black man, son of Africa, that I’d packed all the attributes I sought in myself, the attributes of Martin and Malcolm, DuBois and Mandela…..my father’s voice had nevertheless remained untainted, inspiring, rebuking, granting, or withholding approval. You do not work hard enough, Barry. You must help in your people’s struggle. Wake up, black man!"
Sigmund Freud understood God as a projection of father. God is wit large a projection of the child’s relationship with the father. A small child is totally dependent upon the parents for survival, protection, play, and happiness. The child’s needs for parents are internalized. Upon arriving at adulthood, the person confronts frustrations, pleasures, punishment, and death and we still need a father figure who is now recognized as God. Moreover, if the father is kind and loving, then the child will understand God as kind and loving. If the father is harsh, demanding, and judgmental, then the child will understand God as harsh, demanding, and judgmental. Our perception of God reflects our relationship with our earthly father.
 Erik H. Erikson, Young Man Luther: A Study in Psychoanalysis and History (New York: Norton, 1962), 49. David Hebert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995), 33. Richard Carwardine, Lincoln: A Life and Purpose and Power (New York: Vintage, 2007), 4-5. Alan Bullock, Hitler: A Study in Tyranny. Revised Edition. (New York: Harper and Row/Harper Torchbooks, 1964), 25. Langer, Walter C. The Mind of Adolf Hitler: The Secret Wartime Report (New York: New American Library/A Mentor Book, 1973), 159. Ron Rosenbaum, Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil (New York: Random House, 1998), 11. Rosenbaum, 4. Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2004), 220.