Television used to represent a sort of alternate reality in which Christians were never seen or heard. I didn’t have too much of a problem with that. But now days it seems increasingly popular to feature guest characters who portray Christians as disingenuous, ignorant, or intolerant.
For example, a recent episode of E.R. one of the characters – a lesbian – was reunited with her mother after having been given up for adoption as a child. Her mother was touring with a Christian singing group and stopped by to meet her. When the mother discovered her daughter was a lesbian, she was appalled. Later in the episode she attempted to reconcile with the daughter by saying that she loved her anyway. The daughter threw it back in her face, saying, “I don’t want your love without your acceptance”.
Think about what she is saying for a moment. The daughter didn’t want her mother’s love unless she would also accept her choice to live a homosexual lifestyle. However, the daughter was equally unable to accept her mother for her beliefs, which told her that homosexuality was a sin that cannot be condoned.
So, who’s the hypocrite here? Of course, we are expected to side with the daughter, and the lesson learned is supposed to be that we should not only love everyone but embrace everyone for their beliefs, no matter how much we personally disagree with them. Instead, a viewer paying attention will merely learn that people are quick to dismiss Christians as “a bunch of hypocrites,” not realizing that in saying so they are merely revealing the hypocrisy in themselves.
Another example was on an episode of "Bones." A DJ was found dead and appeared to have overdosed on methamphetamines. As it turns out, he had been framed, and was a Christian DJ. His father, defending his son, says something along the lines of, “My son didn’t do drugs. He was a good kid. I taught him to have a personal relationship with Jesus. Do you understand what I’m saying? A personal relationship! Look at this plaster cast of his hands he made as a boy. When he was young, I took this to a palm reader, and she said she didn’t see any evil in these hands. So please, find the killer.”
What? In one breath you talk about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and about consulting a palm reader? Who writes this stuff?
The father also makes some cheesy comment about “iniquity” being a “Bible word”. Uhhh…actually, it’s just an archaic English word. Unless you believe the Bible to have been originally written in King James English.
But the latest and most annoying example of Christian portrayal on Television was this past week on “Lost”. The character Eko is a Catholic priest. He tells the character Claire that her baby needs to be baptized. He says, “Do you know what baptism means?” to which she replies, “It makes it so you get into heaven”. He smiles in response. I expected him to correct her, pointing out that no just God would send someone to hell for not having water ritualistically dumped on their head. But instead, he validates her statement.
Then he says this, “When John baptized Jesus, it is said that the heavens opened up and a dove came down. This told John something. It told him that he had just cleansed this man of all his sins.” After this he baptized both the mother and the baby.
Now, I don’t care what denomination a Christian comes from: No Christian believes that Christ was baptized in order to be forgiven of his sins. Christ was equally God and man. He committed no sin. These are basic and essential tenets of Christianity. Besides, when Jesus approaches John for baptism, John says, “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”, says that he isn’t even fit to untie Jesus’ sandal, and that Jesus should instead be baptizing him. And even when John is baptising others, he makes it clear that baptism is a sign of repentance, not an act that grants salvation from sin.
So I wonder: Is it that hard for the script writers on these shows to find somebody in Hollywood to consult with who has at least opened the Bible before having characters pretend to share what it says? Could be. But I’d rather Christians not be represented on television at all than be portrayed as a pack of hypocrites and superstitious fools.