Religion and faith have been off limits on most scripted television shows, even those with characters who were members of the clergy. Christmas episodes are generally about Santa Claus and family, not about worship. So it was a very welcome surprise to see episodes of “Glee” and “Modern Family” that engaged in an entertaining but very real way with issues of belief. In “Glee,” the burn on a grilled cheese sandwich looked to Finn like Jesus. And when Kurt’s father was in a coma, other characters had a chance to explain what they believed as they tried to support him and he explained why he does not believe in God. On “Modern Family,” Jay and his new wife Gloria argue because she wants him to come with her to church and he wants to play golf. In the middle is her son, who gets very rattled by uncertainty over who and what to believe. Both episodes are available on Hulu.
I hope families use these programs to begin a discussion of what they believe, why they believe it, and how that compares to family and friends. Maybe then the next survey on our religious knowledge will produce some higher scores.