Thanksgiving Religious Debate — All in the Family

Ingrid saw this on Facebook, and it was too priceless not to share. It’s a clip from an “All in the Family” episode from the ’70s… where the families get into an argument about religion and atheism. It’s amazing:

a) how relevant it is — the exact same argument is happening all over the Internet today, and probably at Thanksgiving dinner tables all over the country;

b) how casual they are about mentioning Mike Stivic’s atheism — it’s just assumed to be the case, and the “A” word gets used almost in passing, without any fanfare;

c) how skillfully Mike and Gloria shred the problem of suffering.

Enjoy — and have a happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Religious Debate — All in the Family

28 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Religious Debate — All in the Family

  1. 3

    It’s so wonderfully, classically written. What’s so discouraging to think is that such incisive presentation of our point of view was right there on TV on a show on one of only three important networks, viewed my millions and, well, did it put a dent in religious hegemony? There are kids who were born 20 years after that show who were brought up to sound just like Archie Bunker nonetheless. Sigh.

  2. 4

    Thank you so much for posting this Greta. It’s always so refreshing to see some rational sense in mainstream television, even (or especially, really) if it was played 40 years ago. And for the guy who wants to push religion on the kid to be the “bad guy” of the episode and the Atheist to be a decent, normal person…

    kinda beautiful.

  3. 6

    Great clip. Ironically I’ve been watching lots of episodes of All in the Family on Hulu and YouTube for the last week or so, and enjoying watching Mike get into it with Archie over religion. Of course Archie might seem like an over-the-top stereotype, but in the 20th Anniversary Special, Carroll O’Connor said that he met “Archies” at every socioeconomic level.

  4. 12

    I caught a Thanskgiving episode of Roseanne Wednesday – it had a discussion of Pilgrim brutality towards Native Americans, one Native American’s point of view towards the holiday, and the treatment of women in Puritan society and on down. You just don’t realize quite how much tv has fallen into the dreck until you see old tv shows and realize how they tackled real subjects.

  5. 15

    Thanks for putting this up, Greta. This was prior to the time fundamentalism rose to the fore in America and that trend needs to be reversed.

    I also appreciated the video of your talk. It’s very much appreciated by those of us who for one reason or another can’t attend these meetings. It brought to my attention several other addresses I plan to listen to as soon as possible.

    The internet is one of our most powerful tools as it multiplies our individual efforts and can always be available on the view screens of questioning people. That drives those who would like to shut us up nuts. Books were great in promoting the enlightenment, but they pale in comparison to the worldwide web.

  6. 16

    Blue-collar atheists as sympathetic characters on primetime TV? Bigoted Xtian not being the sympathetic one? Makes me long for a more progressive time. Like a decade before I was born.

    I know Archie was supposed to be over the top back then, but I am really creeped out that today he’d be Presidential material.

  7. 17

    Not to pee on everyone’s parade (though I’m about to do just that) this clip is nothing but sad echo chamber stereotyping of religious people. As funny and as well-written as AITF was, it was arrogant propaganda, first and foremost. For every Archie Bunker, there are several dozen decent, thoughtful Christian grandparents who would have been similarly appalled, but reacted very differently, and lovingly.

    I’ve been an atheist since my early 20’s. I used to be an activist (I was Salt Lake City’s notorious village atheist for a few years).

    I still don’t have a settled theory about how so many really good people can be believers. But they can. And, even more heretical, I’ve observed how their belief isn’t a drag on their goodness, but propellant.

    Archie Bunker is a demonized stereotype. There never were that many Archie Bunkers. Not to violate Godwin’s Law (though I’m about to do just that) the Nazis went after Jews in the same way that Norman Lear went after traditional Christians.

    So, no, I don’t think this clip was particularly wonderful, using ridiculous strawman Archie so Meathead could make easy “brave” points. It’s just an exercise in Hollywood as supercilious propaganda machine. Oh, and the “get out of my chair!” moment–should warm the hearts of self-righteous brownshirts-at-heart everywhere.

    As atheists, we should be better than this. We’re supposed to care more about objectivity and rationality instead of indulging in ugly cheering for our own side.

  8. 18

    Commentmonster: I have seen maybe a handful of “decent, thoughtful Christians” (of any age, though really, how decent can you be when you think a sky monster will torture people forever and that’s a good thing), and I have met dozens upon dozens of Archie Bunkers. He’s not a fucking strawman, he’s the GOP and a lot of my family.

    Also, the Nazi analogy is fucking revolting. What the fuck is wrong with you? I wasn’t aware that unless you lap up disrespect in your own home, you’re clearly just waiting to gas poor, innocent fundies.

    In conclusion, and I say this with love, gentleness and objectivity, go take a long walk off a short pier.

  9. 20

    @comment monster

    So I guess you completely missed Edith being a decent, thoughtful Jegusite grandparent? No, that was totally horrendous nazi propaganda. Excuse me while I go make some bombs, there are entirely too many churches in my town, full of entirely too many little old ladies. ZIEG HEIL!

    Also, no, people do not do good things because of their religion. They do good things by abandoning vast swathes of their religion’s commands, and pretending that the small part of said religion that aligns to their own moral compass is the impetus for their positive actions. Anyone who actually followed Christian doctrine would be a disgusting, vile person.

  10. 21

    “Archie Bunker is a demonized stereotype.”

    Actually, if you follow All in the Family, you find that he’s a well-meaning guy, not a demon. It’s just that he’s wrong about, well, almost everything. One might note that Edith is probably about as Christian as Archie is, but nowhere near as obnoxious. Heck, Mike Stivic, a.k.a. Meathead, is no Gary Stu, even though he’s more reflective of Lear’s own views than Archie.

  11. 22

    …should warm the hearts of self-righteous brownshirts-at-heart everywhere.

    …go take a long walk off a short pier.

    comment monsterchimichanga #17, happiestsadist @ #18, and everyone else: Please remember my comment policy, and please stay away from invective and personal insults in my blog. Thank you.

  12. 25

    You’ve brought back tender and hilarious (how’s that for a combination?) memories of those days, Greta. Thank you.
    My mother couldn’t miss an episode of All in the Family, she scheduled her ironing around the show. Her laughter would fill the house and many times was joined by mine.
    Ma passed away just a year ago and I miss her so very much. Her humor and bright outlook on life and the foibles of people are part of my personal heritage.
    I’ve a great smile on my face just now as I hear her laughter echo across the years.
    Thank you again for bring those sweet times to mind.
    And, ahh, Happy Holidays! ;^>

  13. M

    Every time I try to point out that show was actually an amazing display of compromise, I always get a bunch of flak. Either “Clearly Mike and Gloria were young and stupid” or “Archie Bunker was an arrogant bigot!”. The point is sometimes both statements were true, but they always ended up supporting each other somehow.

    I couldn’t remember if Mike and Gloria were atheists. I’m impressed to see it was aired as if it wasn’t a big deal.

  14. 27

    @Comment Monster —

    Aside from totally missing the point, and aside from your pathetic attemtps at Ciceronian praeteritio, you obviously know next to nothing about “All in the Family”. If you did, you would have appreciated the years of backstory contributing to the power behind the “Get out of my chair!” statement.

    “Brownshirts”? Really? You just don’t have a clue.

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