‘Glee’ limits diversity of religion

Greg Dunbar

I am a little late to the “Glee” party. My first episode was last week’s “Grilled Cheesus.” It was slightly hard for me to appreciate the style of the show as many others are able to, what with the singing and musical drama feel. While I can understand the musical talent the members possess, musicals just are not my top priority when it comes to television. Pushing through this, though, the content of the episode was what caught my interest.

Part of the focus of the episode was aimed at the gay member of the group, Kurt Hummel. Coincidentally, he is also an atheist. After his father suffers a heart attack and ends up in a coma, Kurt is accordingly offered support in dealing with the tragedy by his fellow glee club members. Many of the members try to share their personal religious beliefs with Kurt, knowing that these beliefs had proven therapeutic for themselves in the past.

It seems that the strongly religious members of the group are also portrayed as the most naive. While Kurt appreciates the fact that his peers are trying to aid him in coping with his catastrophe, he does not have to accept or believe what they are trying to impart to him. When his religious friends gasp in shock upon hearing he is an atheist and insensitive to their prayers, they forget the fact that not everyone believes in God. Furthermore, they treat it negatively. While a lack of belief may hold negative implications for them, they lack the ability to realize that others have differing opinions on the subject. Presenting this view of the religious may have been the writers’ intents on a meta-cognitive level. However, on the surface it appears that one has to be damaged, as Kurt is with the condition of his father, to be atheist. If this is “Glee’s” intent, writers certainly ignored the option of atheists coming to their conclusions without pain and suffering. “Glee” depicts a traditional interaction of atheists and the religious. Another aspect to note is Kurt’s singularity in his non-belief — often atheists are in the minority, or even alone in their view when in a group.

The fact that Kurt is gay as well as an atheist paints a mirror-like picture, as both of these stereotypes hint to an outside or non-majority group. This enforces the common mindset that both of these groups are abnormal. To some, they may even be absolutely wrong. Additionally, it illustrates the opinion that homosexuality leads to atheism or vice versa.

“Glee” writers may be trying to shed light on their views about atheism and religion, be it for better or worse regarding either belief system. Ultimately, the show produces a murky view of atheists and the religious alike, casting into doubt their true intentions. “Glee” is a popular show; it is important for it to present a fair and balanced look at any issues it chooses to illustrate. Then, viewers can rationally reach their own conclusions rather than be emotionally influenced by any biases in the show. Whatever “Glee’s” intentions may be, this episode gave an accurate depiction of what sometimes happens when the two are seen together.

Greg Dunbar is a columnist for the Daily Evergreen at Washington State University.