When we look at the gang from the Peanuts comic strips or watch their television specials there are plenty of lessons on leadership, friendship, and Biblical lessons gleaned from the always quirky group of pals. We see this in a Charlie Brown Christmas, where Linus explained the first Christmas to Charlie Brown who is concerned that there would be no one to share what Christmas is all about. Linus then started to proceed and read from the Book of Luke about the birth of Christ.
Luke 2: 8-14: "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this [shall be] a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."
Charles Schultz, nicknamed "Sparky," had a deep passion for faith and fought to keep the segment on CBS as executives didn't want religion involved on the show. Schultz never backed down, and the show aired in 1965. The creator of Lucy, Snoopy, Linus and Charlie Brown, was believed to have a deep personal faith according to some, as depicted in this example. This has been up for much debate over the years.
However, we observe the aimless Charlie Brown go through life disappointed due to low-self-esteem, always wanting to ask the cute Little Red Haired Girl out. Good 'ol Charlie still never gave up, he even quotes Scripture at times. Charlie told his beagle: "Be of good cheer, Snoopy. Yes, be of good cheer." When Snoopy was caught stealing from the refrigerator, Charlie Brown quoted the 10 Commandments.
Schultz became a Christian after WWII when his father introduced him to a pastor, but already had a foundation from the Church of God in Minnesota. During this time Schultz transitioned into Bible studies, and other faith groups that helped him rekindle his faith. He would become a Methodist Sunday school teacher for 10 years in California, and defended his faith through his medium.
"He was fully committed to his spiritual beliefs, having developed what others in the church might describe as a personal relationship with God through his faith in Christ, but Schulz had not yet developed his own personal spiritual voice," wrote Stephen J. Lind, who penned the book A Charlie Brown Religion.
"Over the years, Sparky [his nickname] would mark nearly every page of his Bible with a pencil or pen, underlining meaningful passages, transcribing timelines, and circling key words, so much that he would naturally forget what had inspired him to do so for certain passages. He filled the margins with explanations drawn from his commentaries and scrawled out personal insights in the blank space left at the end of an Old or New Testament book."
In an interview with the Sonoma County Independent Schultz admitted he had a great disdain for religious shallowness by other comic writers. Comics like "Family Circus" and "Dennis the Menace" irked him. "Dennis the Menace (Hank Ketcham), for instance, is the most shallow. When they show him praying--I just can't stand that sort of thing, talking to God about some cutesy thing that he'd done during the day. I don't think Hank Ketcham has any deep knowledge of things like that."
Over the years, something changed in the man who said: "I preach in these cartoons, and I reserve the same rights to say what I want to say as the minister in the pulpit."
During the 1990s he considered himself a secular humanist and said he didn't go to church anymore. "I do not go to church anymore. I guess you might say I've come around to secular humanism, an obligation I believe all humans have to others and the world we live in." No matter what happened spiritually to Schultz, the medium he used to share the Gospel without bashing people over the head inspired generations.