Let's start with the basics:
The record-breaking Downton Abbey spans a deliciously long stretch of time. The show includes the wreck of the Titanic, in which the Crawley family loses its heir, the lead-up to World War I, the War itself, its aftermath, and now, in Season 3 (or "soon in Season 3," depending on where in the world you live and/or how good you are at locating British Broadcasting Corporation web feeds) the advent of the roaring 20's.
The show's writer and primary creative force, Julian Fellowes, is a practicing Catholic.
The show is set in an old abbey. The family who own Downton, especially the older generations who have the most to lose by losing the house, are obsessed not only with the house itself, but also with its history.
Also they employ a vicar.
So how is it that God is a peripheral presence at best?
To be fair, there have been a few mentions of God. During Season One there was a perfunctory scene set in a church, but it was basically about architecture. At the beginning of Season Two, the evil footman Thomas asked God's forgiveness for sticking his hand out of the trenches to be properly shot so he could return home with a medical discharge.
To be fairer still, Season Two included two moments of devout prayer: Lady Mary praying at her bedside when her beloved Matthew goes missing at the front, and two servants interceding for Matthew and another missing footman during the same period.
By some measures, this would be a watershed on a hit show—two scenes in which people sincerely pray! But in Downton, these events were so late in coming that they did more to point out a missed opportunity than to fill it.
There are a lot of characters in this show. ...