Starting today, the cable network FXX will air every episode of The Simpsons as part of an epic, 12-day marathon. In other words, it’s time to free up some space on your DVRs.
Since the animated sitcom debuted nearly 25 years ago, it has served as one of American culture’s foremost satirical outlets. The show’s frequently hilarious, biting but thoughtful social commentary has tackled everything from politics and news to mass media and pop culture. And it has never veered away from evangelicalism.
In honor of this week’s event, we’ve found seven Christian culture references to look for during FXX’s marathon. Happy binge-watching.
Ned Flanders’ Oral Roberts University Degree
Flander’s ORU education comes up in two episodes: In Season Six’s “I Love Lisa” and “Dead Putting Society.”
The Crystal Cathedral
The famous Crystal Cathedral can be seen in season nine’s “Natural Born Kissers,” which even features a pastor that resembles a young version of Robert Schuller, the church’s founder. You can see the clip (which features some cartoon nudity) here.
Praiseland (a Heritage USA Spoof)
In the episode “I’m Goin’ to Praiseland” (season 12), Flanders opens a Christian amusement park, “Praiseland,” in honor of his late wife that was inspired by the now defunct Heritage USA theme park started by televangelist Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker in the late ’70s.
Homer’s Obsession with the End Times after Seeing ‘Left Below’
Season 19’s “Thank God, It’s Doomsday” is a send-up of evangelicalism ends times culture. Homer, after seeing Left Below, tries to calculate the exact date of the rapture and warn the people of Springfield. Irreverent satire ensues.
The Creationism Debate
In the episode “The Monkey Suit” (season 17), Springfield gets embroiled in a debate over the teaching of creationism (vs. evolution) in public schools. The case Lisa Simpson v. God is eventually decided in favor of Lisa after Homer’s ape-like antics are put forth as evidence by an ACLU lawyer.
Christian Rock Band Kovenant
Fronted by Rachel Jordan (voiced by singer Shawn Colvin), Christian rock outfit Kovenant has appeared in two episodes: “Alone Again, Natura-Diddily” and “I’m Goin’ to Praiseland.” Fun fact: Their bass player was from yet another fictional CCM band: Saintanica
Sunday School Stories
In the episode “Simpsons Bible Stories,” the entire family dozes off during a Rev. Lovejoy sermon, only to each have their own Bible-inspired dream. The episode examines the story of Adam & Eve, the exodus, the wisdom of King Solomon, David and Goliath and even the apocalypse.
Jesse Carey is a mainstay on the weekly RELEVANT Podcast and member of RELEVANT's executive board. He lives in Virginia Beach with his wife and two kids.