I'm a little late on this, but it's worth mentioning. Like we LGBT folks, atheists, and particularly atheists of color, suffer from a lack of media representation--i.e. we're pretty much treat like the proverbial unicorn in the black pop cultural forest. And when we do pop up, we're shown as heathens incapable of loving anyone. At least according TV One's sitcom Belle.
If you're not up on Belle, which seems to be a 21st century update of sitcoms like Amen, don't worry, 'cause I wasn't either. Here's a description of the episode I'm talking about, entitled "True Love": "Jill meets the perfect guy and invites him to dinner for an introduction to Bill and the family. His imperfection is revealed and Jill has to decide whether or not to continue dating him." Imperfection? Really? But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Watch the clip below starting at 10:23 below to see how Jill and her family react to his "imperfection" and the subsequent fallout.
Father, if you do exist, help your children. My thoughts?
1) The family color commentary's during Big Bill and Jack's exchange was annoying as hell. Obviously it's a sitcom and they're going for laughs, but it still, the whole "you betta' tell that big bad atheist somethin'" vibe got on my nerves.
2) It was good to see Jack's (Richard T. Jones) atheism portrayed as being based in reason, and not some "God didn't answer my prayers so I hate him" or any other emotional reason Christians usually try to cite for someone's lack of faith. While emotional reasons can and often do spur the initial questioning of faith, coming to logical conclusions based on critical thinking and research is how many atheists arrive at non-belief.
3) I can understand why Jill would be upset and feel sorta deceived at not knowing Jack was an atheist. They had been dating for two months, and he did go to church with her. I can even understand why she would see his atheism as a deal breaker; obviously she was raised to be religious and it's an important part of her life, and most likely how she wants to continue to raise her daughter (i.e. the narrator). But why portray Jack as some soulless creature incapable of love? Or, even worse, one who could lie to her easily? Because, as we all know, "atheists have no morals."
I can't say I'm surprised by the family and Jill's reaction though. My own experience was a bit different from Jack's, in that when my current boyfriend and I met, I was still a Christian, and didn't deconvert and come out as an atheist until we'd been together almost three years. While he's miles away from being a deluded church queen, he is a believer, and I was prepared for the possibility that I might lose him. Fortunately, that didn't happen. It probably helped that we had a history and were in love, but it was still a struggle for him to understand both my change of thinking and what exactly I did or didn't believe in. As for my parents, well, we've had our moments.
When it comes to Jack though, the writers couldn't even give us the consolation prize of the awkward reconciliation, a sitcom staple. What happened to tolerance, loving your neighbor as yourself? Or hell, just agreeing to disagree? You would think a man as godly and supposedly filled with Christ's love as Big Bill would have compassion for a man whose been disowned by his own parents for over a decade--but I guess not, since he thinks Jack comes from "good parents."
Instead he pulls a Steve Harvey and chunks the deuce after getting up on his high horse and telling Jack once god "gets around" to forgiving him, to call him. Then we're treated to him practically jumping for joy when Jill tells him she'd decided to stop seeing him. So the moral of this story is to label a smart, successful man "unsaved" and undateable just because he doesn't believe in god? Is that all we get? Chile please.
What are your thoughts?