GLEE: In Grilled Cheesus We Pray

(SPOILER: If anyone here watches Glee, and hasn’t had a chance to watch the latest episode, you might not want to read this just yet.)

Alternate Title: Is There a ‘Wrong’ Reason to be an Atheist?

So, I’ve finally gotten around to watching Glee, a musical show on Fox.

It’s pretty great so far, even though I just jumped right into it only a couple of episodes ago and barely understand who the characters are.

The latest episode was very interesting, and touched on a lot of issues, including atheism, Separation of Church and State, proselytizing, prayer, and social stigma.

There are a lot of things in the episode I could talk about, but I don’t want to waste anyone’s time going over every detail, so I’m just going to run down some of the things I did and didn’t like about the episode.

The episode basically has two plot-lines: the main plot-line involves Kurt, whose father has suddenly gone into a coma. The sub-plot involves Finn, who, while making a grilled cheese sandwich, finds the image of Jesus burnt into the sandwich.

Finn sees the sandwich as a sign God it trying to communicate to him, and begins praying to the sandwich itself (which he has names Grilled Cheesus).

Saying that he’s “not sure if [the sandwich] works like a genie or what,” Finn makes three wishes: First, for the football team to win a game; second, to get to second-base with his girlfriend; and third, to become reinstated as the quarterback.

Soon, all three things happen, although at the cost of the current quarterback getting his shoulder dislocated in a hard sacking (none of the other outcomes have any negative effects).

Being troubled by the fact that his wish seems to have caused someone to be hurt, Finn goes to the school counselor and tells her the story, before asking her why she thought the first two things were good, while the third wish had a bad outcome.

The counselor said that God hadn’t helped him in any of those things. They won the game because they had a great coach; the quarterback was injured because the play who sacked him was secretly on steroids and twenty-three years old; and he got to second-base because he was appealing to his girlfriend’s emotions at the time.

So, Finn goes off and sings “Losing My Religion” and we’re to assume that he has, in fact, lost his religion. At least, the one in Grilled Cheesus. (Even though “LMR” is really just about masturbation, but that’s another talk entirely).


In the main plot-line, Chris’s father has had some sort of problem where he’s now in a coma. I’m not sure what exactly this problem is, because they never really address it in the episode. They just say that he’s in a bad shape, and no questions are asked, such as “What could have caused this?” or “How can we fix this?” He’s just left to lie in a bed like a vegetable.

When Chris tells the rest of the Glee club about his father, they all want to start doing religiously- or spiritually-themed songs, and tell him they’ll be praying for his dad.

This is when Chris lets them know that he’s an atheist and that, which he appreciates their concern and support, he doesn’t need their prayers. It all very polite and reasonable (Russell’s Teapot is even brought up to much success).

However, when Chris initially comes out at an atheist, the main reason he gives is because certain churches don’t accept LGBT people, such as himself (a gay male.) Personally, I’ve always thought that this was not the best reason for leaving a religion. It feels almost irrational, because no matter what kind of religion you belong to, you can find a group of those religionists who accept you exactly as you are. (And, failing that, there’s always the UUs.)

I didn’t leave Catholicism because of what the Bible says about homosexuality. I didn’t leave because of what Catholics say about homosexuality. I left because of what Catholicism says about homosexuality. And Catholicism is the Vatican. So, truly, I left the Vatican first, and religion second.

However, whenever I say this, I feel like a hypocrite. I left religion because I don’t believe in anything supernatural. So, really, I left because I don’t agree with what it say’s about the supernatural. How it that any different than why I left rule of the Vatican? Why was I able to say that it’s okay to be gay, and I don’t have to confess my sins, all before I was able to say that it’s okay to say there’s no god, and there’s no such thing as sin? What’s the difference between fully embracing my sexual identity, and fully embracing my rational identity? Why did one have to come before the other, and why am I still feeling such a strong pull back toward church-like settings (see the UUs)?

So, are there wrong reason’s to be an atheist? What if you were just born into it, and don’t know anything about religion, you just know you don’t care much about it? Is that any better or worse that someone who “actively denies the Holy Spirit,” as that campaign from a few years ago would put it?

There’s plenty more I wanted to say about this Glee episode which bothered me, or which I liked, but I got off on a tangent. So, I’ll just stop here. I think I made some nice progress this time, though.

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Comment by Jon Heim on October 7, 2010 at 3:22am
well, I cant relate to leaving a religion for reasons based on my sexuality..I just never bought into the idea of a higher power, and as I got older, did research and really learned what religion is about.

I don't think there is a wrong reason to be an atheist..I mean, the only qualification is to not believe in a god, it doesn't matter how you came to that conclusion.

I mean, in my opinion there are certainly many many other reasons to not beleive in a higher power. I cant say that there was only one factor that made me stop and say "ok, I'm an atheist now". it's a combination of things. for me anyway.
Comment by James on October 8, 2010 at 9:34pm
I don't know... I don't feel that not liking the way a religion views a group of people or being angry with God are good reasons. To me, these place the emphasis on God's actions/views and not his existence. God promoting genocide in the Bible isn't a good reason to be an Atheist, but is a good reason to be Anti-Theist. I sort of equate it to an ultra conservative that doesn't like Obama's ideas or plans, and in turn deciding that Mr. Obama doesn't exist. That is a leap that doesn't follow logic. So, I feel that Christianity being anti-LBGT is not enough in and of itself to be a logical reason to claim there is no God as the claim does not address existence. Actually, those who make such a claim may actually be confused and disillusioned with their religion rather than fully denying it. In all likelihood, displeatre with ones religion can be the open door to disbelief based on a whole myriad of reasons.

That said, lack of belief in a god mustn't depend solely on evidence. One can be Atheist on philosophical grounds as well.


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