How the The Simpsons Shows Christianity at its Worst

The Simpsons is known for its goofy stereotypes of just about any person or culture. However, leave it to the episode “Todd, Todd, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?” (the title says it all) to take things too far. Watch this episode for ten minutes and you’re left with the impression that faithful Christians view themselves as the embodiment of purity and aggressively push others to see things the “correct” way, among other things.

Ned Flanders and his family are the main focus of this episode, rather than the titular family you’re used to seeing. We see from the opening Ned acting as the good samaritan he normally presents himself as, and all is well until his youngest son Todd has doubts of his religion after showing grief for his deceased mother. This is when the horns and pitchfork begin to show. After promptly passing out in church, Ned tries multiple scare tactics to change Todd’s ways, from praying for his punishment to exiling him to their neighbor’s house (Ned referring to it as a “Hell on Earth” to “put the fear of God in him”). This begs the question: are all Christians like this? Do all Christian parents condemn their children for not having the same beliefs as them?

Besides Ned Flanders’ aggressive religious behavior, we also see common Christian stereotypes in a doubtful Todd. While at the Simpsons’ abode, Homer and Marge get up to some … risque business. In their bedroom, Marge expresses that, because Todd’s “used to the quiet”, he’ll hear them, which he does. Later, they try it again in the basement, going as far as covering the door with a mattress and turning on the washing machine. Despite this, Todd can hear the slightest thing they do, even Homer writing on a piece of paper. This is an obvious jab at the “pure” nature of Christians. Do anything, and they’ll hear.

This would all normally be passed off as typical satire if it weren’t for the ending. After a car accident and a brief visit to Heaven (a stereotypical depiction as well), Homer and Ned return to their families. This causes Todd to regain his faith as his prayers had been heard by Ned in the afterlife. Ned claims that two lives had been saved by prayer, a joke is made about the insane prices of medical bills, and the episode ends. No lessons learned, no apologies, nothing. So, after watching, we’re left with the impression that everything Ned did was okay and that it’s right for parents to scare their kids into believing what they believe. This is absolutely ludicrous.

It’s clear that this episode presents negative tropes of Christianity to the viewer. It leaves a very blatant enforcement of norms that Christians are overzealous and want to convert all to their religion, the “correct” and “only” one. Forget that there may be Christians who are just normal, ordinary people. No, all Christians are the same, according to The Simpsons: fanatical, manipulative, and overbearing. At least, that’s what Ned Flanders teaches us.