My Take: Gays are coming out on TV. Christians are, too
Actor Samuel Larsen, second from left, on "The Glee Project."
May 11th, 2012
08:54 AM ET

My Take: Gays are coming out on TV. Christians are, too

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

The New York Times reports this week that gays and lesbians are now commonplace on hit television shows. But Christians are coming out of the closet and onto our television sets, too.

“Glee” may feature a gay couple (Kurt and Blaine), a lesbian couple (Santana and Brittany), and a transgender character (Unique), but it also includes the God Squad, a group of Christians that meet in school and struggle with the demands of their faith.

On the first season of “The Glee Project,” a reality show that trolls for talent to feature on “Glee,” actor Samuel Larsen won a seven-episode role in part because of a tattoo on his chest quoting from Psalm 18 (“I will love thee O Lord my strength”). Larsen, who also sports long dreadlocks, obviously has that elusive “it” factor, but one reason he won "The Glee Project" was that "Glee" executive producer Ryan Murphy wanted to feature a Christian character on the show.

Larsen’s character, transfer student (and former home schooler) Joe Hart, debuted on the "Heart" episode on Valentine’s Day, and since then he has been the “Christian guy” - aka "Teen Jesus" - at William McKinley High.

In that episode, the God Squad raises money by performing singing telegrams at $10 a pop, but when Santana (Naya Rivera) asks them to sing for her girlfriend Brittany (Heather Morris), Joe balks and a discussion about the Bible and homosexuality ensues.

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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.”

Matt Philbin at the Media Research Center cites this episode as an example of the liberal “crusade against faith,” characterizing “Glee” for “attacking the Bible while pushing the gay agenda.

I have a different take. I think it’s about time that Christian characters are showing up on television shows. I think it’s great that these characters are portrayed as flesh-and-blood people who struggle with their faith like the young Christians I know who struggle with theirs. And I think it’s amazing that characters on one of the most popular shows on television are actually discussing the Bible!

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In a more recent episode, called “Dance With Somebody,” Joe gets into another conversation about how to live as a Christian. He has fallen for Quinn while helping her rehabilitate from a car crash, and he’s trying to reconcile what his teenage body says about sex with what the Bible says.

In the boys locker room, Sam tells him to go for it, arguing that you can be a good Christian and a sexual person at the same time. But Joe isn’t so sure he should give in to temptation. And when he hints in a conversation with Quinn that he would give up his Christian faith in order to be her boyfriend, Quinn tells him no. “It’s nice knowing there’s something out there that can’t be lost," she says.

I’m not saying Joe is everybody’s idea of a good Christian. But out there in the real world in actual U.S. high schools there are all sorts of people who fall somewhere between chaste born-again Christians who see holding hands as a gateway drug to illicit sex and frisky secular humanists who spend more time hooking up than doing their homework.

Let's see more of Joe Hart on "Glee," I say, and more of real Christians (and their struggles) on network television.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Entertainment • Homosexuality • Sexuality • Teens • United States

soundoff (752 Responses)
  1. tv online

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    September 27, 2012 at 9:15 am |
  2. jknbt

    "oh why do the heathen rage?"

    May 14, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  3. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things-

    May 14, 2012 at 4:31 am |
  4. jknbt

    Has anyone but me noticed that the Christian kids on TV are always portrayed as conflicted mask wearing phonies, while the gay characters like Kurt are portrayed as stalwart award winning martyrs? Sounds like the activist humanistic agenda is at work again. Come on writers! The Christian kids in the H.S. I went to were the most genuine people in the whole school. The gay kids kept their se-xua-lity to themselves. We all knew, but they still kept it to themselves. Come to think of it, everybody kept their se-xua-lity to themselves. Private matters like that should be kept private. Nobody said anything mean to the gay kids as long as they kept it quiet.

    Christianity is always a public matter since Jesus does not allow secret converts. You are either openly Christian, or you are not a Christian. No secret converts and closet Christians allowed!

    Also, what school district would tolerate the obnoxious, unprofessional teacher like the Sue character? She would not get a contract renewal down south after about one public rant.

    I watch Glee for the singing which is always fun. The Rocky Horror episode was the best. The show's story is crap. I tape the show and only watch the singing.

    Hey Glee producers...give the Irish kid some more story time...he has a lot of natural talent you people are obviously unaware of...

    May 13, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • WASP

      @jk: the christians i went to high schol with were stuck up racist snobs that would hug you while sticking a knife in your back. they were quick to hide behind their "holy book" when challenged and quick to call others "devil worshippers".

      so i think they are pertrayed correctly.............for the most part.

      September 27, 2012 at 9:28 am |
  5. Science Guy

    I think most gay people are born that way. Christians however, have a choice in their matters. They choose to be stupid.

    May 13, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • steve

      And you obviously choose to be hateful.

      May 14, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  6. Dani3l

    You seem to overlook the possibility that gay characters (and actors) might also be sincere Christians. It is not an either/or scenario.

    May 13, 2012 at 7:03 am |
    • pervert alert

      A qu-eer is a pervert and a criminal, in violation of the natural God given order. It is impossible to be a practicing ho mo se xual and a Christian.

      May 13, 2012 at 7:09 am |
    • YeahRight

      "A qu-eer is a pervert and a criminal"

      No they are not and no it's not criminal, the lies people have to tell themselves to justify their unfounded prejudices show their stupidity, you've been proven wrong by the experts. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."

      " in violation of the natural God given order."

      Again, you're wrong it's been documented in over 1500 other species.

      "It is impossible to be a practicing ho mo se xual and a Christian."

      Wrong again, there are gay churches, gay clergy, plus many pastors, rabbi"s and nuns have stated being gay as we know and understand it today is not a sin. Even the pope has stated being gay is not a sin.

      May 13, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      YR, if "gay" churches that have "gay" pastors and all those experts you mentioned to validate your claim... if they and even to the last person on this earth would declare h-uality as normal, it is still perversion of God's design and therefore a mockery of His work of creation and His intent for human kind.

      As for pope saying" being "gay" is no sin.... Well, not that his opinion really matters, since he is human as all of us, and is NOT the authority of God on the Earth... but in sense he is right.... To have h-sual thoughts is NO SIN.
      There is no sin that ever conceived that it was not thrown at us, humans by Satan , the enemy of our souls. BUT, just because a bird flies over your head, do you have to let it build a nest on your head?!
      It all starts with a thought, and when the thought is not dealt with, and has been allowed to establish itself in ones mind, it becomes part of this person. Then the thought translates into deed, and person becomes what he in his thoughts allowed himself to become.
      That's how it all starts, and develops. NO person is born "gay" if they were born normal and healthy, without any deformities. That's just the way it is.
      It really is all about se/x and gratifying our human lewd nature which has enormous power over those who allow it to rule them. But we were not meant to live like beasts, allowing our drives to rule us, but by the grace and power of God to overcome them, and those lusts that drive us, so that we can be what were meant to be, HUMAN BEINGS, who were created in the image of God.
      H-uality is a sin like every other, except its a shortcut to the bottom....
      But there is one sin that's worse then all of them : its the PRIDE in man's heart which causes him to turn away from God, saying he does not need Him.
      With it he cuts himself off from the only hope he has for his wretched soul. And that's the tragedy of the lost dying world today: world without knowing God who gave us life.

      For all those who harp on the absurdity of faith in God, saying there is no proof of God anywhere... The articles like this one, the constant struggle of rebellious,ungodly man to do his own thing, and then seeing the consequences of his rebellion... if there is no other proof (although they are there in every aspect of creation)... it is obvious enough by seeing what wretched world we have when ungodliness rules in this world....Those who have wisdom can discern the truth and don't deny reality. But those who love the ways of this world, will keep on denying it, and spend their lives walking in darkness, till the day of their Appointment. when they have to face reality .

      May 13, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • jknbt

      look at the scriptures in Revelation for two lists of people who don't get into heaven. The abominable and se-xual-ly immoral don't get in. This means adu-lterers, fo-rnicators, and all those who practice immorality without repentence. God doesn't tolerate the sins of straight people just because they are straight.

      See Rev. 21:8 and also Rev. 22:15

      May 13, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • BamaDaniel

      What species

      May 14, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
  7. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer truly changes things

    May 13, 2012 at 7:01 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!.*!

      May 13, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • jknbt

      I have had hundreds of examples of answered prayer in my life...My God has done some dramatic answers to my prayers...perhaps you are praying to the wrong god?

      May 13, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
  8. lastofall

    Unfortunately your concept is a vain imagination which can carry no water with truth, but can only carry it with this secular world's imaginary conclusions.

    May 13, 2012 at 3:25 am |
  9. PRISM 1234

    The Christians who really know their Lord will NEVER fit into this world and its "culture". If they try, the spirit of this world will drag them down, and they will be trampled under their feet, like salt that has lost its flavour, which Christ spoke about in the Scriptures....just like Joe who "hints" that he would give up his Christian faith in order to be Ouinn's boyfriend, and where even Quinn shows more strength of character then he , being a Christian..

    But isn't that what the worlds' ungodly crowd wants to portray us, Christians to be? It's no wonder that they make up cheep, dime-a- sitcoms type shows like the one featured in this article?! Ha, just picture , the dumb sheep sitting on their couches munching junk food, are being entertained and indoctrinated with a pile of garbage in the same time.

    No, those Christians who try to fit Christ and His principles in those shows, begging to get their voices heard and to be accepted, they are not doing service to God nor other Christians.. But the Word of God says, come out from among them, and be separate.
    When they try to fit, to join the crowd, they are already on the way down.

    There is much more to be said about this subject, but those who KNOW our Lord, already see the flaw in the message of this article.
    Those who don't have ability to discern what's wrong with it, are just falling into the trap of satan, and he is making fools out of them, because they are partaking of his domain , camping on his campground. And whether they are participating in making the shows or just sitting at home and watching and approving of them, being entertained by them, the trap is still the same for both....And if those who are doing the shows, thinking to give Christianity more acceptable position in this world's ungodly 'culture', they will be whipped and plucked by his mob , who will only make spectacle out of them. And that's already being seen! But that's what happens when God's people allow themselves to compromise! Because you can not partake of this world, and not be contaminated by it! That's what God is saying to His people! Hes ways are not our ways, and we better find out what His ways are, if we want to be found standing at the end of the day!

    May 13, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • Robert

      "the dumb sheep sitting on their couches munching junk food, are being entertained and indoctrinated with a pile of garbage in the same time."

      That should read the dumb sheep sitting on their churches listening to junk stories, are being entertained and indoctrinated with a pile of garbage in the same time. Yeah that's much better since that speaks well to your brainwashed mind.

      May 13, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • Jacob

      You're confused about who the fool is. How many people did Yahweh kill in the Bible? How many did Satan kill? You're worshipping a god who has the persona of a psychopath.

      May 13, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      Well, we'll see who will have the last word!

      One day you'll face reality!

      It'll come soon enough for you!

      See how you'll fare then!

      May 13, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      "How many did Satan kill? You're worshipping a god who has the persona of a psychopath."
      YOUR god really got you where he wants you, making a mockery out of you, while he's lullabying you with his lies. And you just keep on humming to his drumming, see where it'll lead you.
      But don't blame God afterwards, because you refused Him when He had his hand of mercy stretched out to you. You have your say now.... but afterwards you'll have no say.

      May 13, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • Science Guy

      @Jacob, you make a good point. I would not trust god to drive my kids to school. A lot of really bad stuff may happen along the way.

      May 13, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
  10. Bob

    Chris, wow, that was a very cowardly and utterly unconvincing reply that you made to my post. Basically, you have admitted that reaching your viewpoint requires a biased stance, rather than a critical one, and that your reference book, the bible, will not stand up to critical examination. That admission, while tacit, is a salient point that you have now buttressed. Indeed, the bible does not stand up to a critical review, insofar as the claimed "loving" nature of its supposedly divine creature goes, and also regarding many other claims of the bible.

    Looked at with any degree of critical review, bible content very clearly shows very explicitly that Christian god is a horrid being, and is both bigoted and vengeful to an unfair degree. So again, good thing that Christian god does not exist, when he makes gruesome demands of his flock like these:

    Numbers 31:17-18
    17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
    18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

    Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

    note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

    Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

    And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

    So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

    Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.

    May 12, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • cj

      You demonstrate a total lack of wisdom. You need to learn to read in CONTEXT! Your quotes were commands given to specific people at specific times, and were only relavent at that place and time to those people! And if you knew even the most basic tenents of Christianity, you would know that Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for YOUR sins and mine, and no other animal sacrifice is ever necessary.Perhaps you should learn more before throwing out a few verses out of context.

      May 12, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • momoya

      lol cj doesn't yet get it that there's no way to read the bible "in context.". The only "in context" way to read the bible is to understand it's history and the evolution of its philosophies and gods; it's a bunch of myths, good buddy.. Now put your fairy tale away and join the adults at work.

      May 12, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • Bob

      Thanks, momoya. For cj, I repeat exactly what I had said:

      And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

      May 12, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
  11. Reality


    What you will not find on TV shows:


    "Abrahamics" believe that their god created all of us and of course that includes the g-ay members of the human race. Also, those who have studied ho-mo-se-xuality have determined that there is no choice involved therefore ga-ys are ga-y because god made them that way.

    To wit:

    o The Royal College of Psy-chiatrists stated in 2007:

    “ Despite almost a century of psy-choanalytic and psy-chological speculation, there is no substantive evidence to support the suggestion that the nature of parenting or early childhood experiences play any role in the formation of a person’s fundamental heteros-exual or hom-ose-xual orientation. It would appear that s-exual orientation is biological in nature, determined by a complex interplay of ge-netic factors and the early ut-erine environment. Se-xual orientation is therefore not a choice.[60] "

    "Garcia-Falgueras and Swaab state in the abstract of their 2010 study, "The fe-tal brain develops during the intraut-erine period in the male direction through a direct action of tes-tosterone on the developing nerve cells, or in the female direction through the absence of this hor-mone surge. In this way, our gender identi-ty (the conviction of belonging to the male or female gender) and s-exual orientation are programmed or organized into our brain structures when we are still in the womb. There is no indication that social environment after birth has an effect on gender ident–ity or s-exual orientation."[8

    See also the Philadelphia Inquirer review “Gay Gene, Deconstructed”, 12/12/2011. Said review addresses the following “How do genes associated with ho-mose-xuality avoid being weeded out by Darwinian evolution?”

    Of course, those gays who belong to Abrahamic religions are supposed to obey the rules of no adu-ltery or for-nication allowed.

    And because of basic biology differences said monogamous ventures should always be called same-s-ex unions not same-s-ex marriages.

    From below, on top, backwards, forwards, from this side of the Moon and from the other side too, gay se-xual activity is still mutual masturbation caused by one or more complex se-xual differences. Some differences are visually obvious in for example the complex maleness of DeGeneres, Billy Jean King and Rosie O'Donnell.

    Yes, heteros-exuals practice many of the same "moves" but there is never a doubt who is the female and who is the male

    May 12, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
  12. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things,

    May 12, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • nope

      nope. still no change.

      May 12, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • yuuup

      yes it do

      May 13, 2012 at 7:00 am |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things

      May 13, 2012 at 7:00 am |
  13. Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
    Prayer has been shown to have no discernible effect towards what was prayed for.
    Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just go to http://santorum.com to find out more.
    Prayer makes you fat.
    Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
    Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
    Prayer fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
    Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
    Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.
    Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.
    Prayer makes you think doilies are exciting.
    Prayer makes you secretively flatulent and embarrassed about it.
    Prayer makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
    Prayer gives you knobbly knees.
    Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out.
    Prayer dulls your senses.
    Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
    Prayer makes you hoard cats.
    Prayer makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
    Prayer wastes time.

    May 12, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • nope


      May 12, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • cj

      Actually, your rant against prayer was a total waste of your time. You happen to be living in the 1 or trillions of parallel universes where prayer has a positive effect on outcomes.

      May 12, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
    • Bob

      cj, demonstrate that any prayer has had any effect ever, and that such an effect has had a divine cause. Good luck; if you succeed, you will be the first person ever to do so.

      May 12, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.