Brought to you by the Parents Television
Television writers hate religion
By Christopher Gildemeister
Television writers hate religion.
Though such a statement may at first glance seem outlandish, its truth should be
evident from even the most cursory glance at television “entertainment.” Comedy
programs consistently mock religious beliefs and sentiments. Dramas,
particularly police procedurals and crime programs, portray religiously devout
individuals as insanely twisted and warped sexual predators and serial killers.
Television’s writers and so-called “creative” personnel seem to bear at best a
veiled contempt for religion – a contempt that frequently boils over into
outright hatred. No other racial, ethnic, gender or other group is subjected to
the degree of contumely as religion. So knee-jerk is this tendency towards
mockery of religion among television writers that, at a recent demonstration,
striking writers chose to use the symbols and imagery of Catholicism in their
Apparently, it never even occurred to these writers that devout Catholics might
find their display offensive, and that their actions might decrease public
sympathy for their cause…or perhaps their anger toward religion runs so deep
that they didn’t care.
But this deep-seated hatred goes far beyond the picket-line practices of the
writers. It is deeply embedded in the scripts they write.
On the September 30th episode of CBS’ Cold Case, police
investigating the murder of a teenager discover that the teen was literally
stoned to death – by members of her “Purity Club,” a religious students’ group
which promotes sexual abstinence until marriage. Throughout the episode, members
of the club are portrayed as sexually rapacious hypocrites. The club’s youth
minister masturbates while a female member describes her sexual fantasies for
him. Another male member has sex with a female club member and threatens his
girlfriend with violence when she reveals their sexual experiences to others.
(This individual is described as “the most repressed, controlled person ever.
And that can poison you on the inside.”) The club’s female leader, Tina, berates
a woman with a sexual past by saying, "You're just some slut with a whore for a
mother." Tina is later revealed to be sexually dysfunctional, being unable to
consummate her marriage, and led the attack on the murdered girl. Because the
girl had made sexual remarks and “corrupted” several club members, Tina led the
murderous conspiracy, throwing rocks at the girl while bellowing, "Deuteronomy!
A whore shall be stoned! So shalt thou put evil away among you."
A similar denigration of Christian teachings on chastity appeared on the CW
network’s December 12th episode of Aliens in America. In it,
teenager Claire agrees to her mother’s request that she join their church’s
Chastity Club – on the condition that her mother gives her birth control pills
for Christmas. The episode also featured its male teenage protagonist praying
that God allow him to have sex with an attractive girl. So offensive was this
episode that the PTC found it to be the
Worst of the Week.
Apparently, in the eyes of TV’s writers, controlling one’s sexual urges and
waiting to use them in a marital context is indicative of mental illness -- only
sexual promiscuity demonstrates a healthy mind-set. And religion, because it
promotes the idea that one’s sexuality is a gift to be shared in the context of
marriage and family, and because it promotes self-restraint, is the cause of
violence and evil. Because, obviously, giving full license to one’s every desire
promotes harmony in society, while exercising control over oneself causes
Another example of broadcast television’s bigotry toward religion was seen
recently on ABC’s Boston Legal. This is unsurprising, as Boston Legal’s
creator David E. Kelley and his staff have frequently displayed anti-religious
attitudes in past seasons, including storylines which featured a Catholic priest
who is both a forger and shelters a child molester (December 13, 2006); a pastor
who is a sexual predator (October 11, 2005); and a man engaged in bestiality who
protests, “I’m a deacon at our church!” (November 8, 2005). On this year’s
November 6th episode, a woman, Patrice, has killed the man who
murdered her daughter. Patrice’s takes an unusual line in her legal defense --
she claims that God told her to commit the murder, quoting liberally from the
Bible to do so:
Patrice: “I know how crazy it sounds. But at the time, I was reading a lot of
the Bible. And so many of the verses I would hear in this voice – Leviticus: ‘He
that killeth a man, he shall be put to death.’ Exodus: ‘He that smiteth a man so
that he die, he surely shall be put to death.’ I kept hearing this over and
over. And I became convinced that my daughter’s soul would rest only with
vengeance. Sean Harmon had to die, and it was up to me to kill him.”
In the course of his defense of Patrice, attorney (and Kelley mouthpiece) Alan
Shore snidely berates a rabbi:
Alan: “Jews are okay with revenge!...I know that if you cross Israel’s borders
without the proper invitation, the bombs they go a-bursting. I know when Israel
kidnapped Eichmann and hanged him, Jewish people the world over cheered!…Judaism
has never been preoccupied with forgiveness. ‘Justice, justice, you shall
pursue.’ That’s what the Torah commands.”
befuddled rabbi is reduced to silence and can only gape in awe at Shore’s
brilliant analysis. But Boston Legal‘s writers were not content with
portraying a scholarly Jewish clergyman as a fool; they also did the same with a
Catholic priest. Shore’s assistant Whitney interrogates the clergyman, in the
process making him appear unsympathetic and ignorant:
priest: “In this case, there’s also the ‘eye-for-an-eye’ principle.”
Whitney: “That justifies killing somebody?”
priest: “The phrase is to be found in the Old Testament. And I believe it speaks
Whitney: “What about the New Testament? Jesus says, ‘Turn the other cheek,’
priest: “Well, my reading of that is that Jesus was voicing a very personal view
on how a saintly individual should act. I don’t interpret that as condemning
And when the opinion is advanced that Christ would not have advocated revenge,
Alan: “Well, except when it came to believing in Him, right? Mark 16:16. ‘He
that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. But he that believeth not shall
be damned. .damnation, if Hell is everything it's cracked up to be, is a fate
worse than the painful death that precedes it. So according to this guy Mark,
Jesus was okay with vengeance."
In addition to demonstrating that scriptural exegesis performed by hack TV
writers is less than reliable, this episode also displays the intensely bitter
and vicious hatred that Kelley and his TV cohorts hold towards people and
systems of faith.
And the instances presented above are only a very few examples of the vicious
denigration which religion suffers on prime-time television. So widespread is
television’s hatred of religion that Faith in a Box, the PTC’s 2006 study
of the portrayal of religion on prime-time broadcast TV, found that an
incredible 95.5% of negative portrayals of religion occurred on
scripted drama and comedy programs.
TV writers’ hatred of the sacred is irksome to believers throughout the year,
but becomes particularly offensive during the holiday season. This season
celebrates the Festival of Lights, the commemoration of the dedication of the
Second Temple and the triumph of the Maccabees for adherents of Judaism; and
Christmas, the birth of the Son of God and Savior of the world for Christians.
It is a pity that TV’s writers are so spiritually and intellectually adrift, so
deeply immersed in their own cynicism, that they cannot bring themselves to
accept and celebrate the commonly-held seasonal message “Peace on Earth, Good
Will Toward Men."
Instead, television’s writers prefer to deliberately mock and condemn such
sentiments and those who hold them, and delight in creating programs redolent of
darkness and depravity. And America’s entertainment industry uses the
publicly-owned airwaves, cable and satellite users’ subscription fees, and the
hundreds of billions of dollars provided by advertisers to force this darkness
and cynicism into the homes, the hearts and the minds of us all.
TV Trends: This column was compiled from reports by the
Parents Television Council’s Analysis staff: Aubree Bowling, Caroline
Schulenburg, Josh Shirlen,
and Adam Shuler, under the direction of Dr. John Rattliff.