eastenders: gay, pregnant and religious

27 04 2010

Religion is a harmless bundle of old ladies superstitions, like the tangled knitting of an old baggy jumper no-one will ever wear.

Religion is the hardened dogmas of narrow-minded dangerous hypocrites, like sharp stones flung in self-defence at a too-fast changing world.

Which is it? You decide.

EastEnders is doing religion at the moment. The harmless old ladies religion of Dot Cotton has been replaced by something far more dramatic. This time they are portraying the worst sides of 2 religions at once. A double whammy. A Christianity and Islam hypocrisy-sandwich, with a hefty slice of bigotry and a dressing of moral outrage. Watch this episode from Monday 26th April 2010 to get a flavour…

happy couple?

happy couple?

In one corner of the dock is Islam. A Muslim called Syed Masood is married to Amira, but is gay and having an affair with a man (ironically) called Christian. Syed’s otherwise liberal and nominal Muslim family are less than impressed. When it was revealed at a family ‘do’, words like “shame”, “disgrace” were thrown around.


In the other corner of the dock is Christianity. Part-time church pastor Lucas, who killed his ex-wife in the allotment shed, is threatening his daughter Chelsea with judgement from “the scourge” if she has her planned abortion, if she chooses not to listen to him, god’s messenger. Proper hell-fire and brimstone. Thou shalt not kill, from the mouth of the murdering pastor.

Part of me is glad it’s not just Christianity being portrayed like this. Part of me feels religion-solidarity with Islam because we’re both in the dock. Part of me thinks it’s ok because this is how a lot of people experience religion: angst-ridden, judgemental hypocrites. Part of me sees it as just ordinary people trying to live their lives and not finding it straightforward, balancing their history and their culture and their family and their convictions and it all going belly-up.

I know it’s just EastEnders. I should ignore it. But Lucas’s attitude to abortion is very real. The Masood’s attitude to homosexuality is very real. It happens all over the place. In Islam, in Christianity, in places where there is no religion at all. People are forced into sham marriages because of attitudes to homosexuality. This is a very real issue, and it is brave of EastEnders to portray it.

I don’t mind a bit of anti-religion gip from the tellybox. I know it makes a good story. I just wish that sometimes a softer side of “religion” was given. Not the weak side, not the Dot Cotton superstition or the Aled Jones cheesy smile side, but the strength-of-grace side.

Sometimes there are people of religion who stand by girls facing the abortion decision, look them in the eyes and feel compassion and love and not hell-fire judgement. Sometimes there are people of religion who stand by people who are gay and don’t shout abuse and feel shame and disgrace, who feel compassion and see the love and do not give hell-fire judgement. This is not wishy-washy liberal thinking, it is hard, thought-through, and very real.

I wish it could be known that sometimes there are people who follow Jesus who wrestle with these big things and come down less on the side of law and dogmas and stereotyping and more on the side of love and grace and peace and that sometimes people who follow Jesus do not follow a book of shouted rules but a person and that person is alive and the faith is dynamic and brings social life not social death because that person is life.

That is what I wish.

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10 responses

27 04 2010

Amen! I totally agree, but sadly there have been so many people shouting the ‘rules’ that we have given the broadcasters a steriotype. It will take a lot of work and prayer to change that.

Isn’t it interesting that both of the issues you mention are around sexual matters. It seems that this is where so called Christians often shout loudest and are most intolerant. I wonder why? Could it be that this is where we are most vulnerable because of our inner lives? So we lash out at others. It seems to me that God is a lot less interested in sex and sexual sin than most Christians, he doesn’t talk about it or condemn it a great deal. He seems more interested in our inner lives and our love for others.

Of course we have been carried along by the zeitgeist to belive in rules and science, rather than spiritual and moral matters. We need to get back ot a spiritual God and away from a legalistic one as the latter doesn’t exist.

27 04 2010

Jesus hates bigotry and some of His harshest words where to those who prided themselves as godly and religious, above the run of the mill sinner.

However many non-believers are unjustly narrow minded in their attittude to people of faith.

Perhaps the only way ‘forward’ for us all, is to go ‘back’ to the Cross , where God’s judgement of love, mercy and grace is at it’s most humble yet glorious.

28 04 2010

I say I wish it were known too.

The good news is that the Jesus we know (to the extent we know Him) is known, when we are known…..

We change people’s perception of Jesus, and of church and religion. Sometimes the right way, sometimes the wrong way. This is God’s way. He reveals himself to us, so that He can be revealed in us. If we misunderstand Him, He will be misunderstood. If we understand Him, and trust Him, and love like He does, He will be understood, and trusted and loved.

28 04 2010

Thanks for your comments. I was interested that I looked on the EastEnders website, and looked on the “weekly diary” blog http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/eastenders/2010/04/picture-gallery-wc-3-may-2010.shtml which summarises the week, and they mention the story is about marital break-up etc…, which it is, but ignore the religion element. The religion stuff seems to be treated as peripheral, despite being the foundation of the characters lives and opinions. Religion is the elephant in the room!

We can be a part of the change in people’s perception, hopefully, by God’s grace. Once we begin to understand…!

30 04 2010
Hannah Awesome

I haven’t watched Eastenders in a long time! But I find the issues you write about challenging. In ‘real life’ I have recently encountered actual situations similar to those on Eastenders, it has been interesting seeing the different Christians react to the abortion and to a gay couple. Throughout it all I have been praying that love will prevail, someone once said ‘love never fails so why bother trying with all the other stuff? Act in love always and you are sure to never fail!’ – wise words methinks.

18 05 2010

I am fed up of the telly portraying Christians as mad maniacs, and way out cults. My only real impression of Islam is telly or media produced but I hope that isn’t all true. And even old Dot is watered down now she doesn’t have her convictions anymore, although we should all aim to mature as loving Christians over the years. It makes me wonder do their reaserchers ever look into the real truths we have about Jesus? But at least its on telly! We are so afraid to say anything to offend by saying our views and understanding of the bible, but forget Jesus loved all and made his point with love but also in a way that pointed out the obvious but also challenged us. No hell fires but honest truths of his grace and love. I agree.

1 06 2010
10,000 thank you’s « the blog of kevin

[…] read posts: 1. eastenders: gay, pregnant and religious 2. the unlikely profiterole 3. call of duty: a very […]

23 06 2010

It’s sad to see how the mystic and fake Jesus has turn the perception of the church.

Thanks God, that the one you know is nothing like the real Jesus. That one is not the revolutionary Jesus, capable of compassion and courage to do good regardless of the adversities.

24 06 2010

Saw an article in The Indy yesterday and thought of your blog – see link:-


Hope the TV programme does it justice!

7 07 2010
rev on rev. « the blog of kevin

[…] watch out. After watching 2 episodes of BBC comedy Rev, it is time to complain. Consistently TV portrays church in a negative way, vicars are idiots, whether effeminate and weedy or sinister and […]

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