Religious Zealots Have No Humor, Confuse TV With Church


Last Friday night, NBC aired the initial episode of The Book of Daniel, the show that unnecessarily had everyone's frocks in bunch last week because, God forbid, it mixed the topic of religion with a frothy dose of humor and human imperfection. Not dainty Starbucks-style froth but full-on, blender-busting froth in the form of a pill-popping priest, a gay son, a martini-swilling wife, a daughter who sells pot to support a manga cartoon hobby, another son who likes to have sex with a bishop's daughter, a priest who cheats on his wife, a relative who steals $3 million from the church, a mafia-connected priest who blackmails the pill-popping priest and a self-referential, wise-cracking Jesus who doles out less than traditional religious advice. Four NBC affiliates couldn't take the heat and pulled the show from their schedules.

Upon viewing the two hour premiere, we just don't know what all the fuss is about. The show was funny. Really funny. It took the very serious subject of religion, did away with the usual collection of unrealistically pious people and turned the whole thing on its head by dropping the kid gloves to portray people as they are in real life, full of flaws, faults and foibles.

The flippant Jesus character, which religious types are calling blasphemous, was nothing more than a humorous look at what life might be like for Jesus after having to deal with every single Christian's prayers, desires and aspirations day in and day out week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade, century after century, millennium after millennium. The poor guy hung on a cross for us, died for us and listens to billions of our prayers every second. The least we can do is let him crack a few jokes once in a while on a harmless TV show. After all, the show is not a Sunday sermon. We have church for that. People are smart enough to tell the difference between the two and we don't need a few religious extremists forcing their views upon the rest of us, depriving us of a few hours respite watching one of the few things on TV that's actually worth watching. Give it a rest. Go back to your prayer group.

by Steve Hall    Jan- 7-06   Click to Comment   
Topic: Opinion, Television   

Enjoy what you've read? Subscribe to Adrants Daily and receive the daily contents of this site each day along with free whitepapers.



It would be brave and original if someone did a series like that on islam, but then all the sanctimonious "liberals" would whine about racism and the producers would probably get killed.

Or a series like this on the madness and hypocrisy of "liberal"/socialist do-gooders in academia, set in Berkeley or NYU/Washington Square. That would be funny. I'd watch that. Any chance of something like that ever making it to tv?

BTW, I'm not a Christian, just getting tired of the hypocrisy of this whole debate.

Posted by: Peter Verkooijen on January 7, 2006 6:25 PM

I kind of agree, people seem to think its one rule for Christians and another for other religions.

However, I think its totally wrong that pressure from any group should stop what is an entirely fictional show being aired. The militant wing of Christians have far too much power in America. We just saw gay marriage introduced with no fuss whatsoever, yet in America their reaction is as if we just banned church.

Free speech just isnt free speech anymore. This is now affecting tv, movies, ads and even art and design. It has to stop somewhere.

Posted by: Rob Mortimer on January 7, 2006 8:20 PM

Seem to think? Hardly. We both know a show like that wouldn't have even been acknowledged if it were about any other popular religious group. The justification usually runs along the lines that Christians have all this power and wealth so they can afford to be mocked a bit.

That said, I'm all for the mocking of religion, but I really believe singling out one group is a mistake. What's the point of a show that actually makes people feel bad? (Standard answer: to make them realize how hypocritical they are and that they need to change! blah).

I say remake the show but make it a priest, a rabbi, and an imam. Equal opportunity offense means nobody is really singled out and truly offended.

Posted by: Jon on January 8, 2006 3:53 AM

"Free speech just isnt free speech anymore. This is now affecting tv, movies, ads and even art and design. It has to stop somewhere."

I get really tired of "liberals" whining about how free speech is under threat in the US. I'm from the Netherlands where two journalists/social critics were assassinated in the last three years for expressing their views. I see the same forces that demonized and killed them at work in the US. It's not the Christians that are threatening free speech, it's the "left" controlling the media and Hollywood, constantly pushing their agenda and demonizing and shouting down anybody who's trying to defend democracy, western culture and their freedom of religion.

Posted by: Peter Verkooijen on January 8, 2006 3:15 PM

If only it would happen Jon.

The left in no way controls the media in America, in fact its almost a party political ally of the Republicans across the board.

I dont know what kind of left wing people you have in the Netherlands, but from the sounds of it its much much more militant than the mainly peaceful left-wing in the UK and US. Sadly though, the extremes of every group go too far.

Posted by: Rob Mortimer on January 8, 2006 6:01 PM

"The left in no way controls the media in America, in fact its almost a party political ally of the Republicans across the board."

That is total BS and almost all studies back me up on that, like recently this one from UCLA. If you don't want to believe surveys look at the declining readership of papers like the New York Times and the succes of Fox News. Republicans represent about 50% of the US population and you make it sound like it's a scandal their voice is heard at all. Clearly the "left" has a hard time tolerating dissent from their narrowminded point of view.

Posted by: Peter Verkooijen on January 8, 2006 9:47 PM


"Sadly though, the extremes of every group go too far."

Almost all political violence comes from the left these days and the socalled "peaceful leftwing in the UK and US" is only too happy to support violence when it comes from palestinians or marxist revolutionary groups.

Posted by: Peter Verkooijen on January 8, 2006 9:56 PM

Thats interesting reading, though it doesnt match with what ive read elsewhere. The key point there is that its related to "the average member of congress" which is open to wide interpretation.

Its hardly a scandal that their voice should be heard. Everybody deserves their say, but the problem ive found in our media (and the US, bar Fox News may differ)is that the left wing media is much fairer than right wing media. Ie: Left wing media still debates both angles, whereas the right wing media instantly dismisses the left angle.

What would be nice is for you to stop generalising my words, and stop bracketing me with your viewpoint of the left. My opinion is my own.

I would like to see some evidence for your claim. I know of no left wingers who support actions from marxist revolutionary groups. Its the same thing as with the right wing, only a tiny tiny number of conservatives support Nazi views.

As for Palestine thats a whole other story, its violence and oppression on both sides. We should never condone violence of that kind, and maybe we as a society should do much more to promote peace in those areas.

Posted by: Rob Mortimer on January 9, 2006 6:05 AM

If the same type of "funny" show had been made about the homosexual community - there would have been an uproar that has not been seen nor heard since....well, since never. In fact, a recent single comment made by a popular film critic expressing his view of one of the characters in the movie "Brokeback Mountain" has drawn the ire of GLAAD. That being said, WHY is it OK to make fun of or dump on Chrisitans - but no other group? The first reason that comes to mind, it is the trend of the moment. Second reason, Christians, in all of their ugly imperfection -- do still represent someone that a lot of people want to ignore, Jesus Christ. Third, one of the main goals of the media is to MAKE MONEY -- and as long as advertisers will pay the big bucks to have their name associated with a controversial issue/program --- the networks will keep looking for such programs and keep airing them. America is LARGELY about "show me the money" and THAT is one of the BEST ways for any community to make their voice heard --- hit them in the wallet.

Posted by: Anthony on January 9, 2006 6:50 AM

Show me the money part, I get. I don't get your comment about an uproar being caused by homosexual-themed shows. There's been countless shows that focus on that topic and just glide along.

Posted by: Steve Hall on January 9, 2006 8:24 AM

"WHY is it OK to make fun of or dump on Chrisitans - but no other group"

I'm sorry - have you missed the past 50 years of television history? If you watch comedy - every group you can think of has been constantly poked fun at. The only difference is that right-wing Christiandom currently has political power.

I think that comedy like this is extremely important. I think poking fun at all serious issues helps us to deal with them, and helps us to diffuse tensions.

Posted by: J D Moore on January 9, 2006 9:00 AM

After that show, I need to get stoned now to masturbate.

Posted by: tom lout on January 9, 2006 9:22 AM

"Its the same thing as with the right wing, only a tiny tiny number of conservatives support Nazi views. As for Palestine thats a whole other story, its violence and oppression on both sides."

The Israelis have every right to defend themselves against decades of arab attacks on their civilians. I don't want to get into a long off topic political discussion here, but this kind of nazi crap goes unanswered too often. Talking about nazi, no Republicans or conservatives support nazi views. Nazis were national socialists and much closer to the current American "left" as your views show. Ku Klux Klanners David Duke and Robert Byrd are on your side. So are European neo-nazis like Jorg Haider and Jean Marie Le Pen, all Bush haters and fervent supporters of the arab cause.

Posted by: Peter Verkooijen on January 9, 2006 11:08 AM

"People are smart enough to tell the difference between the two and we don't need a few religious extremists forcing their views upon the rest of us, depriving us of a few hours respite watching one of the few things on TV that's actually worth watching."

So, if I find anything offensive on TV, anything I think is misrepresentative, blasphemous, or wrong I should just suck it up and let it be? Should I also just roll over when the Nazi show comes on talking about dumb black folk and money-grubbing Jews because someone else out there probably likes it? Do you just not believe in the concept of right and wrong anymore?

The reason religious groups (be it Christian, Jewish or Islam) get upset about their faiths being mocked is because it is something far more important than anything else in their life. It is considered holy, set apart from the world. To mock that isn't just insensitive, it's sacrilegious. It�s blasphemous. So of course they get upset. Duh.

In terms of this particular show, the problem isn't just that it shows religious folks who are sinners, because any religious person will tell you that all people are sinners.

The problem is that there is no respect or grace dealt these characters, and by extension, Christianity -- which is something completely opposite the Christian message. As much as the media (and the "Christian mouthpieces" they like to trot out like freak show Pat Robertson) like to portray the Christian message one of judgment and seclusion, that's not the case. Jesus' message was about love and forgiveness.

So not only does a show like this present a narrow view of Christians, it also completely mangles the Christian message. Which, in my opinion, if a far more insidious deed than just creating caricature characters. You're misrepresenting what people feel is the word and will of God. That's a pretty fat sacred cow you're killing, so don't act surprised or pissed when people who are offended rise up.

Their right to complain? That's called free speech. If networks want to pull the shows, that's their right as well. They are only beholden to the almighty dollar. Freedom works both ways.

Posted by: Doug Boemler Wareing on January 9, 2006 12:31 PM

Isn't freedom great:-)

Posted by: Steve Hall on January 9, 2006 1:00 PM

I agree with everybody thus far, including the folks who disagree with each other, because everybody has a point.
Having said that, ALL media has some sort of responsiblity to the society they serve, beyond simply selling ad space and making money. No, I don't think they should ALSO make fun of gays, leftists, whoever; nor do I as a Christian feel unfairly treated by "the media establishment". On the contrary, I wonder if we couldn't do with slightly less ridiculing all round. Satire is a wonderful thing, but when every show on TV is some sort of satire of somebody or something, we're in a cultural dead-end.

Posted by: ralph on January 9, 2006 1:30 PM

I wasn't going to chime in on this one, but I had to.

Ralph's comment reminded me of an old Monty Python sketch where the Swedish ("neutral") guy said "well, Churchill, you have a point, and Mr. Hitler, you have a point too... "

It was funnier in the fake Swedish accent.

Nonetheless, I believe it was Dante who said "The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who, in times of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality".

I am liking Dutch Pete more and more (the commenter, not the oil conglomerate).

Posted by: Stevie on January 9, 2006 1:46 PM

Really people, what is all the conterversy about? It's simply a humourous show with a religious subtext that happens to be christian. Who cares? If you think it's funny and entertaining watch it, if you don't, don't. If enough people agree with you then it will get pulled from the air because of lack of viewers. Personally I don't understand why you people feel that they can't belive in their god and have a little bit of comedy around it. It's not like he/she/it/they will get offended by a little light satire.

Posted by: Noel on January 9, 2006 4:23 PM

I just want to say that the crap that Peter Verkooyen is talking is not shared by most of the Dutch. Palestinians are most definitely not Nazis. I have no answer to the problems over there . But you can't blame them for wanting there own country back.
Now to get on topic: I haven't seen the show. But I can tell you that the christian right in your country are getting out of hand. You guys would get in uproar if muslims would have the same kind of political power. Do something about it.

Posted by: Roeland de Bruijn on January 10, 2006 3:41 AM


The Christian right has far too much power. BUT it must be said that people are hypocritical when they criticize one religion but not others.

Posted by: Rob Mortimer on January 10, 2006 1:23 PM

Poking a little light-hearted fun at a man of the cloth and his whacky family is harmless "re-lig-u-tainment."

See if for what it is. Nobody was pushing a mean-spirited religious agenda.

I found it a delightfully amusing show.

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. (Matthew 7:1).

Posted by: Lynne Dolan on January 10, 2006 2:57 PM

""Do not judge, or you too will be judged. (Matthew 7:1)."

I thought it was 'Do not poke lest yee be poked.' (Moe 3:21)

Maybe it's just me.

Posted by: makethelogobigger [TypeKey Profile Page] on January 11, 2006 4:43 PM