Most of my Catholic and Anglican friends are busy observing Lent these days. We Evangelicals don't usually do too much other than anticipate the arrival of Passion Week, Good Friday, and of course, Easter Sunday. Fasting for Lent isn't something we usually observe, because for one thing, we Evangelicals insist on either going all in or not participating at all. I mean, seriously, you want us to choose only one thing? Sorry. We can't seem to grasp the idea of giving up just coffee when the other option is food of all kinds and all liquids except for water. We're the "all-or-nothing" bunch.
Regardless of how we differ, all Christians agree that Easter is the most important season of our faith, because it celebrates Jesus Christ's resurrection, without which there would be no Christian faith. The fact that our Savior lives is the basis for our entire faith and what sets us aside from every other religion. Apparently, Easter's significance wasn't lost on NBC's Saturday Night Live (SNL). This past weekend, SNL producers apparently gave up good taste for Lent, instead opting to poke fun at Christianity using a Quentin Tarantino film parody in their skit "D'Jesus Uncrossed."
As a teen, I, along with most of my peers, grew up watching Saturday Night Live. They have always produced edgy humor. But in recent years, they have traded clever characters and skits for more and more raunchy or partisan jabs. Who could forget the savaging they gave Sarah Palin in the 2008-election cycle? Mormonism and Romney got a good thrashing last year, and some of it was even witty. Oddly, President Barak Obama is always handled with great care. People around him are fair game, but he is always presented as cool.
Last Saturday night, however, they stooped to a new low, going out of their way to mock Jesus Christ and Christianity just in time for Lent. SNL has, of course, always enjoyed their ability to offend in the past, but at least one could count on them to have the nerve to take on everyone equally. Today, SNL would NEVER have the nerve to mock Islam as it did Christianity. They would never be brave enough to run a skit mocking Mohammad at any time - let alone during Ramadan.
Unfortunately, they crossed the Rubicon from the clever, irreverent show of my youth to a stagnant, predictable troupe that often relies on shock to make up for a gross lack of creativity. Too bad. What they fail to recognize is that we Christians can laugh at ourselves - and do so often - when the joke is funny. But SNL's treatment of others and us in recent years is expressly intended to degrade and taunt. Other comedians don't seem to have a problem finding the middle ground of finding a real quirk and exaggerating until it's funny. Comic Tim Hawkins has Christian jokes down to a science. Churches hire him just to come and make fun of us. It works because he is one of us, much like Adam Sandler making Jewish jokes or Eddie Murphy making jokes about African-Americans. However, it seems the team at SNL has never even met one of us and has no understanding of the inner workings of our subculture.
Or is it something much darker? Was the lack of respect just a misunderstanding, or was it a thinly veiled attempt to discredit and marginalize a religion and a religious group? A discussion on CNN following the skit concluded that it was okay because Christianity is a major religion. True. However, the number of heart versus cultural adherents, I would argue, is much smaller. According to Barna Group, only 42 percent of Americans regularly attend church on Sunday. Additionally, only 33 percent of America's men firmly believe that the Bible is completely accurate, compared to 42 percent of American women who believe the Bible to be absolute truth. Clearly, the most devoted followers of Jesus dislike his depiction as a crazed murderer the most. I am guessing this thought wasn't lost on SNL.
The truth of Christ's deity and the Gospel has stood infallible for 2,000 years, while Christians across the globe still undergo true persecution and are tortured and murdered for their faith. And honestly, I'm not getting their situation confused with ours. (I mean, Christians in America can't seem to last through a service if the church's air conditioning is on the fritz.) So where do we draw the line? Where do we speak up? The First Amendment to our wonderful U.S. Constitution protects SNL's right to offend, but it also protects our right to complain to NBC and the advertisers that sponsor SNL. Funny how that works both ways.
This Easter, I suggest we give up something extra, and that is our lack of willingness to speak out against true profaning of Jesus Christ. Join our effort at Concernedwomen.org to speak up and let SNL know that you're not laughing.