Critics would say that The Simpsons is the furthest thing from the Gospel with the only similar aspect being the members of the Simpson family are Sunday Christians who go to church more out of cultural ritual than sincere faith. However, far from the Truth as the cartoon show about an American dysfunctional family may seem, a pastor in London is using The Simpson to teach the Christian messages during evening classes.
Rev. Robin Spittle of All Saints Church in Kesgrave, London, recognizes the shortcomings of the show but cannot deny it’s potential in being used as an educational catalyst.
"They are a churchgoing family and they make moral decisions, some of which I agree with, some of which I don't, but either way they are a great way to open up a discussion," said Spittle, who has ventured to places such as pubs to do his outreach, holding services there and even used Harry Potter to teach the Easter message.
Spittle even sees each show the Christian message is delivered through each show even though Homer Simpson, the main character who is the husband to Marge and father to Bart, Lisa and Maggie, once said, "You know, the one with all the well-meaning rules that don't work in real life. Uh, Christianity."
"They have a clever way of covering a lot of ground in a short space of time. Each 20-minute show gets a whole message across," said Spittle.
He plans to give lectures on the main characters, devoting one entire evening class in a serried of four to each of the main characters: Homer, Marge, Bart and Lisa. Each character has a unique personality and conflict that bring help the long-standing Primetime cartoon convey the Christian message.
Spittle used the temptations Marge and Homer face in having extramarital affairs as a recurring story line that ends on a positive note.
"Both Marge and Homer have found themselves being offered the opportunity to play away from home and they both turn them down," said Spittle. "Temptation, choices and doing what's right — you can't get much more of a Christian message than that."
Mark Pinsky, author of The Gospel According to the Simpsons, probably couldn’t agree more with Spittle. Pinsky discussed how Christianity was more than present in The Simpsons series in his 2001 book that received much attention.
In 1992, former President George Bush once commented during the Emmy Awards that American families should be "a lot more like the Waltons and a lot less like the Simpsons," suggesting the Simpsons lack favorable family values.
Spittle’s classes will begin at the end of April and be something people in London can have a cow about.