Nagisa Furukawa wrote:
Why not have the Pah-wraiths be seeking acceptance for their contribution? Tie the Wormhole Aliens/Deities arc back into the original "peaceful culture turned to terrorism" arc that was so important to the show's early seasons and its portrayal of Kira and the Bajoran culture.
That's really interesting. I forget exactly when we first learn about the Pah-wraiths, but I recall it being relatively late in the series. If the writers had conceived of these anti-prophets from the beginning, maybe it would have turned out more like you're suggesting.
Maybe there could have been a serious schism in the Bajoran religion: there are the people who seek peace through faith in the Prophets alone (like that speech where Winn tells Kira, "we were fighting, too, but we didn't have any weapons to protect us"). And then there are the people like Kira who follow the Pah-wraith variant, which says that it's Bajor's destiny to free itself by force. That would make the already touchy subject of whether the Bajoran terrorists were acting honorably into not just a moral question, but a religious one.
That could have been cool, especially because before the Pah wraiths came along, the internal religious conflict didn't seem to be that big a deal. Were Winn's policies really all that different from Bareil's in a way that would affect everyday life for Bajorans? Would there be protests in the streets if their favorite Vedek didn't win? I don't know that DS9 really needed to focus more on Bajoran religious politics than it did, but if they wanted to go that way, it would have been a stronger choice if there were really serious consequences to who was elected Kai.
As for the statement that Bajor wouldn't have survived the occupation without the religion, I always took that to be more about the unifying power of religion, rather than the specific tenets of their faith. The Cardassians were trying to destroy their identity as a people, and the religion was the one thing they could hold onto as a unique part of their culture, and the Vedeks and Kais became the figureheads of Bajoran identity, since they didn't have an organized government.