Movies & TV

5 Series That Totally Pissed Off the Church

Unholy takes on holy traditions.

It doesn’t take much to anger the religious sector, especially when you take their sacred scriptures and “adapt” them to the small screen. Playing with people’s beliefs for entertainment’s sake is a surefire way of pissing people off and testing the limits of “religious tolerance.” A number of popular TV shows have received their fair share of ire from religious communities, but that hasn’t stopped them in the least. If anything, it’s made these shows even more popular. We don't encourage the so-called ridicule of religion, but it pays to remember that shows are works of fiction, religion itself should be taken with a grain of salt, and none of this is really worth getting all riled up about.

With that said, here are five shows (in no particular order) that have pissed off the church:

1| Good Omens 

The story: Based on Neil Gaiman’s book of the same name, Good Omens follows the misadventures of a demon-angel duo (played by David Tennant of Dr. Who fame and Michael Sheen of the Underworld saga) as they try to stop the Anti-Christ from indirectly causing Armaggedon, aka the end of the world. The show also features a slew of demons, a satanic order of nuns, the four horsemen of the apocalypse, a female-voiced God, and the archangel Gabriel played by none other than Jon Hamm, a.k.a. Don Draper. 

The anger that ensued: A Christian organization called Return to Order was so upset at the show’s take on Christianity, from its depiction of friendly demons to God being voiced by a woman, it set up a petition that received more than 20,000 signatures to cancel the show on Netflix. Only, the show is streaming on Amazon, not Netflix. Oops.


2| Lucifer 

The story: Also based on a character created by Neil Gaiman from his '90s DC Comics series The Sandman, Lucifer revolves around the tale of the Devil, only he’s bored and unhappy as the Lord of Hell. The series follows him as he tries to find purpose besides being the Devil and his complicated family problems—particularly his strained relationship with his father, God, and his mother, the Goddess of Creation. That’s right, the show gives God a romantic interest.

The anger that ensued: 9,344 "concerned mothers" petitioned Fox to cancel the show for “mischaracterizing Satan” and “mocking the Bible.” Another petition signed by 51,000 "concerned viewers" took offense with the portrayal of Lucifer as a decent guy. The show was eventually dropped from Fox, but unluckily for the “concerned viewers,” Netflix picked up the show for a fifth and final season. 

3| Black Jesus 

The story: From the creators of the Boondocks, the comedy show follows an African-American Jesus—literally straight outta Compton—on a mission to spread the gospel of love and acceptance. But don’t be fooled: This Adult Swim depiction of Jesus is hardly for the faint of heart. He cusses, drinks, and smokes a joint every now and then, all while tackling serious issues with his gentle brand of humor.

The anger that ensued: Whether it’s because this Jesus is a stoner or because he turns water into brandy (or because he’s black), the conservative group One Million Moms called for the show to be canceled for setting the show in the predominantly black neighborhood of Compton, which is full of "violence, gunfire and other inappropriate gestures which completely misrepresent Jesus.” 

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4| The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 

The story: If conservatives had issues with the “Satanic” themes of the previous series, wait until they get a load of this. This Netflix retelling of the popular teenage witch is based on the original horror comic series of the same name, complete with blatantly Satanic and “evil” themes. The show centers around a community of witches (called the Church of Night) who worship the Dark Lord (aka Satan) and recite clever reversals of common phrases, like “For the love of Lucifer” and “Unholy shit.”

The anger that ensued: With such an unapologetic portrayal with dark themes, it’s no surprise the show attracted backlash from the religious community who criticized the show for glorifying witchcraft and mocking the Catholic faith. But perhaps the most outraged religious community that took offense to the show was…The Satanic Temple. Apparently, the organization sued Netflix for $50 million for copyright issues after the show ripped off the temple’s Baphomet statue without their permission. The case was eventually settled for an undisclosed amount.

5| American Horror Story: Apocalypse

The story: The eighth season of the critically acclaimed horror anthology series, American Horror Story: Apocalypse brings back the audience’s favorite characters from the past seasons as the AHS world is about to end as we know it—literally. Only the apocalypse can gather these characters together as they all try to survive the nuclear war.

The anger that ensued: The show is chock full of everything that might disturb conservative viewers: demon babies, maniacal witches, voodoo queens, and the antichrist. But it was the outrage of one church that overpowered all other criticism of the show—the Church of Satan. Founded in 1966 (the irony cannot be dismissed), the organization was not impressed with the show’s fictional depiction of founder Anton LaVey, who was essentially their equivalent of the pope. For falsely depicting their leader as a “Devil-worshipping boogeyman,” the church denounced the show for being nothing more than “Devil-worship drivel.” Ouch.

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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