Religion On TV

Television portrays more religion with hit shows House of Cards & The Americans exploring religious themes and CW’s “The Messengers” featuring angels.

On April 10, 2015, The CW plans to launch a new series, “The Messengers.” According to IMDB, the plot revolves around several seemingly random strangers who die but reawaken to discover they are responsible for preventing the Rapture, the biblical event that signals the second coming of Jesus Christ. The religiously-themed television show is the latest to capitalize on America’s deeply held religious roots.

Many other television shows as of late are injecting religious themes into their stories. A teenage character on The Americans shocks her non-religious parents when she requests a baptism for her birthday. There is also a Catholic obstetrician and guest appearance of Stephen Colbert as a Catholic priest on The Mindy Project. An evangelical former vice president is featured on Scandal. Christian characters have also figured into the plots of recent shows such as Glee, Parks and Recreation, and 30 Rock. The critically acclaimed and increasingly popular Jane the Virgin, which already has deeply running religious themes, introduced a character who practices Jainism. Netflix’s award-winning series House of Cards has also recently dealt with faith when the regularly amoral President attends church to ruminate on faith after several emotionally straining incidents, even speaking with an archbishop on the topic of the laws of humans versus the laws of God.

Although modern America is a place where citizens are turning away from organized religion in record numbers, television is featuring religion – particularly Christianity – more than ever. The transformative power of religion and its ability to connect with something deep within individuals may be a part of television’s drive to create compelling characters. As the Washington Post’s Alyssa Rosenberg writes about the lure of religious beliefs, “They are not flimsy things to be cast aside simply to avoid pain, but real and deep parts of [characters].” At the very least, the inclusion of such characters on television shows helps reflect the diversity of the real world and opens up a dialogue on faith.

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