What do the TV shows The Simpsons, Family Guy, and The Sopranos all have in common?
A. They portray dysfunctional people and families.
B. They mock Christians and creationists.
C. They’re among the most-watched TV shows at Christian colleges.
D. All of the above.
E. A & B
The correct response is E. Surprised? It’s a trick question. Let me explain. After the many conversations I’ve had with Christian college students, I would have answered “D” … that Christian students were watching these three (generally bad) TV programs at their Christian colleges.
Frankly, it’s scary to know what these students are watching in Christian schools (and also the movies they attend). My son showed me something he had found at a website where students can fill out a survey on their TV/movie-viewing habits. I compared my son’s Christian school with Harvard, MIT, Oxford—and even one of the so-called party schools in America, Arizona State. And you couldn’t tell his Christian school from the secular ones! When I looked at other Christian schools, the results were the same. The Simpsons and Family Guy were in the top five shows being watched in almost all schools, Christian or not.
The gangster series The Sopranos didn’t make the list (and that’s why the answer “E” above). But, here’s why. Christian college students would tell me: “But that’s on HBO, and we don’t want to pay for it on campus. So we watch it when we go home!” So their parents aren’t discerning about what their children watch. In other words, the situation is even worse than the quiz suggests.
In the episode “The Monkey Suit” of the animated TV program The Simpsons, Christians and creationists are mocked. It’s a spoof of the infamous 1925 Scopes trial (which has been inexcusably presented in public schools as the “classic” film and stage drama Inherit the Wind—proven to be a total misrepresentation of the actual trial).1
Ned Flanders, who portrays a devout Christian in the show, takes his sons to a science museum. They end up in the “evolution of man” exhibit. Walking through the displays, Ned tries to cover his sons’ eyes from the “evidence” for evolution.
Of course, as Christians, we have no reason to hide from evolutionary beliefs and presentations. In fact, we should know and understand evolution better than non-Christians. God’s Word commands us to “be prepared to give an answer” for what we believe. And the original word “answer” in 1 Peter 3:15 means a reasonable, rational explanation. Unfortunately, most Christians can’t give this sort of answer.
Later in the episode, Ned complains to Rev. Lovejoy about the museum. Holding a Bible in the air, Rev. Lovejoy responds, “Ned, you’ve got to take this thing [i.e., the Bible] with a grain of salt. I mean, c’mon.”
Christians are depicted as hiding from the truth, and as stupid, bullying, dishonest, etc. Sadly, portraying Christians in this manner isn’t the exception in the media today.
Family guy. Let’s be blunt: Christians shouldn’t be relaxing in front of this animated show at all. But they are.
In the episode “Petarded,” a character named Peter takes an IQ test. When he goes to find out the results, a doctor shows him a chart depicting where he is intellectually. The chart, in descending order, shows:
On the bottom of the chart, under Peter, who himself is listed under “petarded,” we see the word “creationist.” How blatant the anti-Christian TV and film industry has become! In addition, the profane and very violent mobster program The Sopranos had a segment that featured a pastor who believed in creation. He too was depicted in a negative light.
Parents, be very careful what you and your children are watching. When you and I were young, animated programs and most drama shows were relatively “safe.” But not anymore. Pollster and cultural researcher George Barna, a Christian, says:
The vast majority of Christians do not behave differently because they do not think differently, and they do not think differently because we have never trained them, equipped them, or held them accountable to do so.2
We need to start training Christians to cope with—and counter—the anti-Christian sentiment that is so prevalent in our world today. God’s Word tells us in Psalm 101:2-3:
I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes.
There are tools, such as our newsletters and our recommended resources (below), that can equip you.
Editor’s note: Much more about how Christians should act in today’s world is offered in Carl Kerby’s just-released book Remote Control: The Power of Hollywood on Today’s Culture. Carl shares many more examples of how the popular culture has been affected by evolutionary thinking. See our online store for details.