Stephen Prothero recently wrote at CNN’s Belief Blog that Christians, like gays, are “coming out” on television.  He refers to the popular show Glee, which features a gay couple, a lesbian couple, a transgender singer, and a “God Squad” of Christians whose sole purpose seems to be to provide Glee creator Ryan Murphy a foil against which to make his arguments.  Prothero applauds the following conversation, which took place on the show, for showing Christians struggling with their faith and talking about the Bible:

Mercedes (Amber Riley) calculates that since “one out of every ten people are gay . . . one of the twelve apostles might have been gay.” Sam (Chord Overstreet) observes that “the Bible says it’s an abomination for a man to lay with another man,” prompting Quinn (Dianna Agron) go ask, “Do you know what else the Bible says is an abomination? Eating lobster, planting different crops in the same field, giving somebody a proud look. Not an abomination? Slavery. Jesus never said anything about gay people. That’s a fact.”

That it’s a theologically illiterate view of the Bible (the old Shellfish Objection is easily dispensed for anyone who has actually studied both sides of the issue), gives no coherent justification for a traditional Christian viewpoint, and never seriously challenges the prevailing assumptions of the show that homosexuality should be embraced and celebrated, does not bother Prothero because he shares Murphy’s point of view on these issues.  Yet, to be honest, if we cannot have the Bible discussed well on television, then I would rather not have it discussed at all.  I don’t really want Ryan Murphy teaching teenagers the Bible.

The larger issue this raises, however, is the way in which Christians have been “closeted” on television in the first place.  The great majority of Americans are Christian, and yet you would never know it from American television.  There are some welcome exceptions.  Everybody Loves Raymond and The Middle (which features a hilarious youth pastor character) show their families going to church and sometimes discussing their Christian faith.  And on Smash, a gay character convinces his partner to wait on sex and come to church with him — which, although it’s arguably in service to a pro-gay message, is actually a decent plot element, and I certainly want my gay friends to be welcome at churches.  Yet the exceptions are few, and even in the exceptional cases one very, very rarely sees an articulate case made for Christian faith or for a traditionally Christian worldview.

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