Drawn to the Gods

Religion and Humor in The Simpsons, South Park, and Family Guy

304 pages

April, 2017

ISBN: 9781479822188



Add to Cart Available: 3/17/2017

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David Feltmate is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Auburn University at Montgomery where he conducts research in the sociology of religion, the sociology of humor, religion and popular culture, religion and mass media, and sociological theory.

All books by David Feltmate

A new world of religious satire illuminated through the layers of religion and humor that make up the The Simpsons, South Park and Family Guy.

Drawing on the worldviews put forth by three wildly popular animated shows – The Simpsons, South Park, and Family Guy– David Feltmate demonstrates how ideas about religion’s proper place in American society are communicated through comedy.  The book includes discussion of a wide range of American religions, including Protestant and Catholic Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Native American Religions, New Religious Movements, “Spirituality,” Hinduism, and Atheism. Along the way, readers are shown that jokes about religion are influential tools for teaching viewers how to interpret and judge religious people and institutions.  

Feltmate, develops a picture of how each show understands and communicates what constitutes good religious practice as well as which traditions they seek to exclude on the basis of race and ethnicity, stupidity, or danger. From Homer Simpson’s spiritual journey during a chili-pepper induced hallucination to South Park’s boxing match between Jesus and Satan to Peter Griffin’s worship of the Fonz, each show uses humor to convey a broader commentary about the role of religion in public life. Through this examination, an understanding of what it means to each program to be a good religious American becomes clear.  
Drawn to the Gods is a book that both fans and scholars will enjoy as they expose the significance of religious satire in these iconic television programs. 


  • "Drawn to the Gods is a thorough and comprehensive study that is grounded in solid research methodologies and linked to relevant theories and secondary literature. Feltmate’s arguments are compelling and insightful, and even quite lively--I love moving from Durkheim on the sacred to sacredness in Family Guy. Feltmate is quite adept at unpacking dense ideas about the sociology of religion and applying them to cultural studies in a rich, illuminating way."

    —Gary Laderman, Goodrich C. White Professor of American Religious History and Cultures, Emory University

  • "Without a doubt, I will use this delightful, well-researched, well-crafted monograph in my media, religion, and popular culture courses.  David Feltmate’s book is fun, but it is serious fun.  He maps out how humor and satire, as delivered through media platforms, teach audiences how to think about religion in an American cultural context. In so doing, he makes a compelling case for why we need to take humor seriously, and why the vital realm of popular culture is not simply important but indeed central to our research in the study of religion.” 

    —Sarah McFarland Taylor, Professor of Religion, Media and Culture, Northwestern University

  • "Feltmate wisely focuses on three popular television programs that not only overflow with religious references but also often humorously subvert accepted ideas about religious beliefs and practices. Engaging in close readings of over 200 episodes of these shows, Feltmate explores the ways that they satirically question sacred texts, cults, Jesus, sacred sites, and various world religions."

    Publishers Weekly

  • “What Feltmate has written is a thought-provoking and extremely detailed analysis.”

    Reading Religion

  • “It is appropriately paradoxical that by taking a scholarly look at non-serious subjects like humor and popular culture, David Feltmate has illuminated religion in America in a very serious way.”

    Nova Religio

  • "David Feltmate’s book on religion, satire, and popular culture must be regarded a significant, fascinating, and also thought-provoking scholarly introduction into the world of contemporary religious popular culture and its study…[It] is a must read for all researchers of contemporary religious communication and popular culture."

    —Johan Bastubacka, Associate Professor of Theology, University of Helsinki

  • “Feltmate has given us a wonderfully insightful and persuasive work that reflects the quip of King Lear’s fool that jesters often do prophets prove.”

    De Gruyter Mouton