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Religious Satire: Laughter Silenced

Essay by   •  December 11, 2010  •  Essay  •  2,520 Words (11 Pages)  •  1,368 Views

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Religious Satire: Laughter Silenced

The world enjoys laughter; they say it is the best medicine. In every part of the world there are comics, jokes, and satire. Most of them are all in good fun, but sometimes the jokes get taken too far. The recent uproar over a political cartoon in the Middle East has sparked a lot of interest with religious satire. Why does religion get attacked so frequently? How far is too far? When are the jokes no longer funny, but hurtful? Whenever someone's religion and morals are attacked, it is no longer funny. Religion is a serious topic than many people have in their lives all around the world. The beliefs of religious people (Christians in particular) are not a joking matter, and the satire is no longer funny. Religious satire has become a topic that damages the Christian faith, is morally wrong, and an outward way to be malicious.

"Christianity is more than an event, an experience, or a set of beliefs." (Gushee P10) Christianity is meant to be something that people can put their heart and soul into, and a force to fall back upon. It is strong and powerful belief that has become a center for many and where they derive their strength from. There are a lot of people who need Christianity in their lives, and religious satire is slowly ruining that. The media poking fun of Christianity is unnecessary and damaging. The biggest example of this is the fairly recent movie Dogma, which has been called, "...a satire which aims directly at the flaws and pretensions of organized religion." (Henderson P1) This movie was made with the intent to scrutinize Christianity and the things that Christians hold deep in their hearts. It portrays the Christian faith as a fake and useless religion. It plays on fears, hopes, and the belief system set up by Christians. Dogma, "...mocks everything we hold sacred- God, the church, the Mass, and Mary's virginity." (Henderson P4) This is going too far with the satire. It is purposely searching for hurtful things to say and saying them just to be spiteful of the Christian faith. This movie seeks out the most crucial and important elements in religions and twists them all around. It is deeper than a simple joke that makes fun on one situation or one small aspect, it criticizes the whole religion. "The wits of the present age being so very numerous and penetrating, it seems the grandees of Church and State begin to fall under horrible apprehensions... [Critics] find leisure to pick holes in the weak sides of religion." (Swift 39) Just like in an animal kingdom, religious satire preys on the weakest elements and the most sensitive. It goes right for the heart and strikes a heavy blow. The jokes made about religion just damage the spirit of Christianity.

When Christianity is being ridiculed someone is always going to be affected by it. The satire weighs heavily on church officials, who begin to lose hope in themselves and their practice. "I found the people of the best rank amongst them always ridiculing religion." (Kallich 5) The pastors begin to become discouraged and think that what they are teaching is wrong or not getting through to the people. This is just devastating to the rest of Christians, who look to these officials for guidance. Religious satire just pushes down the faith and makes everyone look at it differently and look at if for less then what it actually is. People no longer see Christianity for everything that it can do and become, but instead they see it as, "...a one- time moment of conversion in which we "walk the aisle," profess our faith publicly, and join the church, guaranteeing ourselves a heavenly mansion when we die." (Gushee P6) This is no way to go through life or act as a Christian. The satire damages the spirit of it all and people then do not care about trying to become a better person through religion. They just do what they need to do to get by, because they fear getting made fun of. Christians need to be able to stand up and be proud for what they believe in, but religious satire makes that hard. Critics, who write it, tend to not pick on silly little things, but really attack the heart of it all. "It is true, of course, that all Christian work involves an element of danger and is exposed to the risk of intervention and dilution by the devil. There is in propaganda, however, an element which clearly goes beyond this kind of danger and should by all means be avoided." (Thielicke 515) Christians are taught to be "fishers of men" and reach out to others and serve them, but they can not achieve that if their faith has been damaged. There are just so many things that should not be printed because they attack people on such a deeper level than a sarcastic joke. It is not humorous or funny, but damaging and hurtful. "This criticism must be pressed and substantiated... for it is immediately apparent that the treatment of this concept is the crucial turning point in the whole development of Christian ethics." (Thielicke 220) The satire is making people rethink what they believe in, and the ethics behind it. It is because of religious satire that more and more people are becoming morally wrong.

Writers of religious satire have no morals when is comes to religion, and write morally wrong statements concerning the Christian faith. It was stated in a book of ethics that, "The moralist is confronted by several possibilities, and yet it may appear in the end that no one of these is entirely satisfactory." (Robinson 30). Therefore, somewhere deep inside the writer knows whether what they are writing is morally correct or not. The writer has a conscience and can tell if they are being unethical or not. However, people do not seem to care. They print and publish whatever jokes they please, with no thoughts on how it will affect people. Writers of religious satire bury the good sense and judgment they have just to get printed or get some from of a laugh. There is no thought to what they are picking apart in the Christian faith. Today's society does not think about other people and their feelings, "...we live in a morally bankrupt age." (Sins P1) It is almost evident in every walk of like that people have given up on basic morals, especially those that are related to the church. Religious satire is an area that makes fun of a very sensitive subject, and is meant to be hurtful. Writers of satire dig deep for hidden assets and ideas to use. "The notion of mocking real or fictional peoples for their virtues- intellectual, moral, or otherwise- is peculiar." (Conolly 130) It is not right morally to pick on someone or put someone down because of what they believe or what they act upon. It is something

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