Christians have always had the reputation of being dour and humorless. Is this justified? After all, are there many Christian comedians out there?
The answer to that is yes. There are many Christian comedians out there and chances are that you've already heard of a few.
The most famous Christian comedian I can think of now is the late Charles "Sparky" Schulz, creator of "Peanuts." Schulz was an observant Roman Catholic whose first cartoons appeared in his local church newspaper. Gently funny cartoons about teenage Bible classes and children asking naive questions about religion were Schulz's main themes for quite a while. He even became a regular in the in Roman Catholic comics magazine "Timeless Topix" before Universal Press Syndicate approached him about making a regular comic strip for daily papers.
"Peanuts" is far from a religious comic strip but bits and pieces of Schulz's Bible school background often peep through... usually in strips where Linus quotes from the Old Testament whilst nonchalantly clutching his blue blanket.
Nowadays most people would be rather charmed to see the Bible quoted in a daily strip around Christmas. After all, what is Christmas all about at the core than religion? Forty-some years ago quoting the Bible in a comic strip was apparently more controversial. In "Peanuts: A Golden Celebration," Schulz publishes some of his more indignant letters along with his comic strips involving Linus quoting the Bible at a school pageant. One letter reads:
Dear Sir, ... I believe it is in inexcusably poor taste, and offensive to many readers both Christian and Jewish, to use texts from and references to the Bible both Old and New Testaments- especially in a comic strip and at this particular time of the year. I write to register my own extreme irritation at your comic strips of December 21st, 1969.
Other letters were even more condemnatory. In one comic strip where Charlie Brown is reading aloud the story of David and Goliath, his sister Sally wonders "What did Goliath's mom think?" In response Schulz received this furious missive:
Dear Mr. Schulz, It is widely rumored in the Christian community that you were a Christian. Were you? When did you stop, and decide that the Bible was laughable?
I'm referring to the strip which mocked the sacrifice mandated by Almighty God for atonement in the Old Testament, which was a type of Jesus Christ's sacrifice in the New. (Nov. 24, 1988)
I'm wondering if you have been caught up in the New Age type of deception, where vegetarianism mixes with Eastern philosophy and denies an omnipotent God in heaven Who demands to be worshipped. Such philosophies made gods out of men, with the lie that we can all find "god within." Is this what happened to you?
Sir, even if your personal philosophy is at odds with the majority of this country which was founded on the Judeo-Christian ethic, can you not control your urge to lead astray our little ones and proselytyze (sic) instead your adult peers who can better defend themselves? Sneaking your anti-Jewish, Anti-American philosophy into the minds of hapless children via a comic strip is just plain dirty pool. I would not want to be in your shoes on judgement day. Jesus Christ said that people who lead astray His little ones should be cast into the sea with a millstone tied around their necks. An apology is due America.
Sheesh. Still, for every whack-job that criticized Schulz, one hundred more praise him. Years after his death Charles Schulz is still widely missed on the comics page.
Still Christian comedians do exist to this very day. If you're anybody who knows good comedy then you'll know Michael J. Nelson from "Mystery Science Theater 3000."
What you might not know about Michael J. Nelson is that he's a very conservative Christian. Nelson had described Christianity as "the very centerpiece of our lives. We're heavily involved in our church, my wife works with youth groups and churches as her profession, and almost every career and life decision I make depends upon it." He studies Christian apologetics
and cites William Lane Craig
and C.S. Lewis
Nelson is a humble guy and he doesn't use his show to proselytize. Still, traces of Nelson's conservatism do peek through at times. While "Mystery Science Theater 3000" and Nelson's new show "Rifftrax" do have their share of fart jokes and general disrespect there is almost no profanity. Can you think of any comedy show on the air now that has no profanity in it? I can't! It's a rare thing for a comedian to be as side-splittingly funny as Nelson and not drop any dirty language on top of it.
Does anyone else know of Christian comedians currently performing? Share!
Who are some other Christian comedians past and present? Who is your favorite? What do you like or dislike about Christian comedy?