Are you a True Believer… or GCB?

Bristol Palin lit up the web this week with her demand that President Obama apologize to her for his supporter’s extremely crass remarks about her and her family. Her complaint resonated – it was shared 128,000 times on Patheos (temporarily shutting down the entire site), was on the front page of FoxNews, and was discussed by the likes of Wolf Blitzer, Sean Hannity, Greta Van Susteren, and even Perez Hilton. Why did so many people have such a strong reaction to her post?

As a conservative Christian woman, the answer is quite clear. In recent years it seems people like me may be utterly maligned without so much as the blink of eye by the media. And if they’re Christian, they’re portrayed as heartless, intellectual lightweights to boot.

Cue the music for ABC’s new show, GCBGood Christian B*tches . . . or Belles as they changed it after some protest.

Based on Kim Gatlin’s book by the same title, this show promotes these tired old stereotypes. The show takes place in Highland Park, the swanky area of Dallas, and lampoons the rich, “Christian” socialites of the city. Texans are known for propensity for largesse: they have a big state, big homes, large ranches, flashy clothes, and mile-high hair. The women of GCB do not disappoint. Their hair is teased; their clothes, while expensive, are “tacky;” their cars are fast; they quote Scripture like it is honey on their tongues; and they are meaner than snakes. The GCB women could take the WWF in one round flat—and look like they belonged, too.

They aren’t like their sisters in ABC’s Desperate Housewives. In that show, which precedes GCB on the Sunday night lineup, close-knit neighbors fight, burn each other’s homes, and run over family members… yet they still re-enter the neighborly sisterhood. However, the GCBs are out for the kill. Amanda, the meanest of the mean in high school, returns to Dallas penniless after her philandering husband dies in an unfortunate, scandalous car accident. The other women, still seething from her high school triumphs, lie in wait to undo her.

They wear their Christianity like they wear their clothes: gaudily. Amanda’s mother insists she and the children go to church over Amanda’s protests.

“Cut the Commie crap,” she says, “My grandchildren are going to church so they can go to heaven. End of story. Amen.”

In her world, salvation is based not even on works but on position—on their place as Good Christians Who Live in the South and Go to Church. There is no real faith here. There is no gospel: an understanding of our deep sin and our need for a Savior. There is no understanding of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Instead, GCB shows a “Christian” culture at its worst, with all of the Christian trappings and none of its essence.

Amanda, the prodigal daughter returned from California—that haven of elite enlightenment–is the one who professes change. She’s the convert. Now she’s a nice person. Now, she’s different. Though we are not given any defining conversion moment in her life, the viewer is left to assume her sudden kindness resulted from finally escaping the oppression of the overly churched society.

Honestly, GCB made me look in the mirror. Hypocrisy is an ugly thing, and it exists in all cultures–all too frequently in Christian ones. Many people, as we say in the South, “talk the talk but don’t walk the walk” and consider themselves Christians because of who they are—not because of who Christ is. Our Southern culture is so steeped in Christianity that too often we find ourselves inoculated to it—resistant to the reality of our own sin and our need for a Savior.

Are Christians hypocrites? Yes. Are some just claiming the mantel, as I would say the GCB womaen are? Yes. Are some sincere believers who make really big mistakes? Yes.

Does that hypocrisy justify Hollywood’s constant lampooning? No. I take exception to both the caricatures of Christians and of Southerners. (I also take exception to the fact that Hollywood rarely seems to be able to portray Christians in an interesting way. This poorly written show relies on cliché and stereotype, and its mediocre ratings reflect it.) However, just as Scripture tells us that we will know Christians by their “fruits,” it also tells us that not to be surprised if the world “hates” us. I do not expect Hollywood to respect Christians or Christianity, but I do hope that some people see past the false veneer of GCB and realize that real people of true faith exist . . . as does their God.

And is there a double standard? Is it considered okay to make fun of Christians and Southerners when other groups are off limits? GBC proves it. As the Palins would say, “You betcha!”

  • cheryl

    you nailed it!!!~ unfortunately.
    But I wish you had ended less with the truth of our fallen world but more with the hope that with Christ we can do anything and sometimes it is only because of Christ that can we over come the GCBs in our life.

  • Colleen

    I really like the show and think it is hilarious. Kristin Chenoweth is a hoot and love when she sings in the choir. She mentioned something about the show as being like chocolate cake. I agree with her. I don’t believe it is supposed to be a serious depiction of true Christianity, but more as light entertainment. In fact, I think of it more as a venue to, like you mentioned, take a good look at ourselves in the mirror. Even a fun, light form of entertainment can contain a whole lot of truth.

  • Michelle

    I have to say, even though I hate when Christians are attacked in the media, we have given them the ammunition. Stereotypes exist for a reason. I have felt this myself growing up in the south in “church”. Not until I reached adulthood and moved into a wonderful christian community that really walks the walk did I understand what church was supposed to be. GCB is dead on with the way people act. You can cut someone to the core as long as you follow it up with “we need to pray for her”. It makes me sick. I wish I could tattoo James 1:26 on their foreheads (26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.)

  • Kim

    Joey and I watched the first episode of this show to see what it would be like. It was promptly deleted from our DVR’s series manager…for many of the reasons you listed, Anna. Thank you for putting my feeling of “Oh no they didn’t…!” into such eloquent words!

    Personally, while I was highly disappointed in their portrayal of “Christian” women, I was seriously brokenhearted by their portrayal of “Christian” men as weak-willed, bullied-by-their-wives doormats. My husband is certainly not like that, and I am proud to stand behind him as his wife – a Belle, not a B**ch, who remains humbled and awestruck by the fact that Jesus’ sacrifice allows me to call myself a Christian…a Christ-follower…one of His.

  • Christie

    Stop blaming ‘Hollywood’, it’s no conspiracy against Christianity. Bitchy Christianity (the Institutional Church) should be exposed for the farce it’s become. This is no slur on Christ and the real church.