Top 10 South Park Episodes About Religion
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In spring 2011, the creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, debuted their highly anticipated broadway musical, "The Book of Mormon." But it wasn't their first jab at the sacred.
Religion has always been a favorite topic of the writers, repeatedly popping up during the South Park's 15 seasons. Despite its wildly irreverent tone, the show's approach to religion has frequently revealed a high level of intelligence and sophistication. In almost every case, the writers have correctly targeted the greedy and misguided individuals and institutions who abuse and manipulate religious people instead of ridiculing religious belief itself. In many cases, the joke is even on those who are non-religious.
We've compiled clips from ten of our favorite South Park episodes that dealt with issues of religion, although there are many, many more. You can watch the entire catalog of South Park episodes online, so be sure to tell us which of our picks are your favorite and what others you think should be on the list!
A Strict Agnostic Household
Taken from his parents by child protective services and placed in a foster home, Kenny is in for a rude awakening in the final episode of Season 15. But he can't be too sure. Of anything.
The Passion Of The Jew
This 2004 episode took dead aim at Mel Gibson's blockbuster flick, <em>The Passion of The Christ</em>. In typical South Park fashion, the episode captures the unreasonably strong reaction on both sides of the film and offers a lesson on what's really important about the life of Jesus: how he lived and what he taught.
Red Hot Catholic Love
In Season 6, Parker and Stone ruthlessly went after the Catholic Church in the midst of the growing sexual abuse scandals. In the episode, South Park's Father Maxi causes the Vatican to literally crumble when he rails against the insularity and stubbornness of the church hierarchy. Once again, the joke is on the abusive and hypocritical religious institutions, rather than religious belief itself.
Fantastic Easter Special
It's hard to get more blasphemous than claiming that St. Peter was actually a rabbit, but a moral is still salvaged -- "No one man could speak for everyone in a religion."
Mr. Hanky the Christmas Poo
In one of the episodes that cemented the show as a cultural phenomenon, Mr. Hanky the Christmas Poo was pitch-perfect in balancing religious irreverence with a reminder of what the holiday season should be all about. The first, and best, of a long string of entertaining Christmas episodes.
All About the Mormons
When a family of Mormons, the Johnson's, move to town, Stan's family learns the story of how the Mormon faith was founded by Joseph Smith. Despite the unbelievable nature of the story, the Johnson's are enthusiastic about their faith. The moral of the episode is revealed when Stan rejects the Johnson's because he thinks Mormonism is dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb. Gary admonishes him, saying that the value of their faith is in the way it inspires them to act, not in the origin story.
Christian Rock Hard
When Eric and Kyle make a bit on whose band can make a platinum album first, Cartman hatches a cynical plan to reach the top of the Christian Rock charts. Although he is wildly successful with some atrociously shallow material, the episode comes down on the side of justice when it is revealed that Christian artists go "myrrh" instead of platinum.
Trapped In The Closet
Even while ridiculing the apparent absurdities of Scientology, South Park goes deeper by reminding the audience that the group is just another example of people trying desperately to seek answers to the big questions of human existence.
Go God Go
This multi-part episode showed that South Park reserves no special status for atheists. When Cartman travels to the future, he's confronted by a violent war between rival atheist factions. The episode also includes a hilarious but less-than-flattering appearance by Richard Dawkins.
Are You There God? It's Me, Jesus
This season 3 episode focused on the hysteria leading up to the turn of the new millennium and found Jesus faced with a resurgent popularity. In the end, an appearance by God himself was needed in order to give everyone a firm, "settle down."
This early episode stages the ultimate battle between good and evil when the son of Satan shows up at school. With Jesus as the heavy underdog in a bout with the Prince of Darkness, the people of South Park learn that betting on evil just doesn't pay.