The Simpsons vs. Bill Donohue October 20, 2009

The Simpsons vs. Bill Donohue

In case you missed The Simpsons this weekend, they aired their annual Halloween episode: “Treehouse of Horrors XX.”

One of the shorts was “Don’t Have a Cow, Mankind,” and it deals with a zombie-creating burger that infects all who eat it. Bart eats a burger and manages to stay safe, though, so he is referred to as the “Chosen One.” They have to take him to the Safe Zone in order to create an antidote.

When Marge gets him there, we hear this exchange:

Guard: “Welcome, son. To survive, all we must do is eat your flesh.”

Marge: “Hold it right there, Bub! What kind of civilized people eat the body and blood of their savior?”

Rev. Lovejoy: [Groans nervously]

As you can guess, Bill Donohue and the Catholic League are throwing a shit fit over this:

What kind of uncivilized people work at Fox? Last year, when they poked some gentle fun at the Apostle’s Creed on the Halloween episode, we said nothing. That’s because it didn’t cross the line. This year is different: mocking the heart of any religion always crosses the line, and mocking the Eucharist does it for Catholics. They know this at Fox, which is precisely why they did it.

Actually, there’s nothing wrong with mocking the “heart of any religion,” and Holy Communion is perfectly fair game. Let Catholics defend the practice of eating Jesus. The rest of us can call it what it is: absurd.

If you’d like to see the episode, it’s on Hulu:

The short begins at the 7:50 mark and the excerpt in question begins at the 14:08 mark.

(Thanks to Erick for the link!)

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  • That line was the best part of the whole episode. I showed my friend, who is a religious studies major, and he thought it was great, but we both wondered when the outrage would begin.
    On a side note, the first two segments were great, but the last one was kind of crappy.

  • charfles

    Funny coincidence: The advertisement I got at the beginning of the episode was for “The United Methodist Church”.

  • Polly

    That was the highlight of the show for me. The rest was so-so.

    It’s weird to see so much religious irreverance from the Fox network (practically all of Sunday evening). Is the cable division under different management?

  • David D.G.

    “What kind of civilized people eat the body and blood of their savior?”

    Ha! That is absolutely perfect! Donahue’s sputtering only underscores how badly such casual skewering of his delusions is needed in our society.

    Oh, and I can remember that same morbid thought (that Marge expresses) crossing my mind back when I was a teenager — in church.

    ~David D.G.

  • Brian E

    Don’t have a cow, Donohue! Or actually, yes, please do. Like most right-wing nutjobs, you make yourself look stupider every time you open your pie-hole. Eventually even the stupid should see your stupidity.

  • J. Allen


    Fox is about earning money, and the Simpsons can do anything they want and Fox won’t touch them because they have such a worldwide fan base that tunes in and advertisers take notice.

    That’s why in some episodes the Simpsons will even mock Fox itself. Family Guy has done it also.

  • Hemant, I actually have a tag line on my blog called “Bill Donohue is a Prick.” This guy is a year-long Christmas gift of crazy.

  • Canadians can’t watch Hulu, sadly, but it does sound like a hilarious episode. I quit watching the show 8 years ago — not because of lack of quality or anything, just a crappy tv set-up that I never bothered to improve via satellite or cable. By and large, I don’t feel I’m missing out on anything.

  • jtradke

    As you can guess, Bill Donohue and the Catholic League are throwing a shit fit over this…

    Of course. He is a professional shit-fitter. He starts with the notion that Catholicism is the bee’s knees, and that anyone who doesn’t agree is offending him.

    That is literally all he does. That’s it. That is the entirety of his talents. He offers nothing else. That’s his extent. He goes no further. A professional whiner.

    He is the world’s least interesting man.

  • Richard Wade

    Is Donohue’s god helpless? A basket case incapable of taking care of himself? Why does Donohue have to appoint himself Chief Defender of God? His god needs a whining goon to counter-attack criticism with a devastating “WAAAAAAAAAHH!!” ?

    mocking the heart of any religion always crosses the line, and mocking the Eucharist does it for Catholics.

    How many lines have you crossed, Donohue? Dismissing the Church’s coverup of child rapes crosses the line. Condoning the Pope’s policy of death by AIDS before condoms crosses the line. Agreeing with the condemnation of a mother and her raped daughter for having an abortion when the daughter would have died crosses the line.

    Your organization has crossed so many lines, it looks like a screen door.

    Eating bits of your god seems to make you just like him: Impotent, immoral and selfish. Have another cracker.

  • Napkin

    Eating bits of your god seems to make you just like him: Impotent, immoral and selfish. Have another cracker.


    Well said.

  • Colin

    Thanks for the Hulu link. I only occasionally watch the Simpsons nowadays, and I never think to go to Hulu.

  • Bill Donohue is offended! Water is wet! Sky is blue! Sun rises in the east! Things fall downwards after you drop them!

  • Bah.

    I hate hulu. It’s only for the US and A population of the world.

  • Geoff

    Does anyone have a way to access this in the UK?

  • Alycia

    Here ya go, kids:

    It’s at the 1:50 mark.


  • bernerbits

    I didn’t even think it was meant as an insult to Catholicism. I figured it was just Marge being naive.

    At any rate it’s hardly the harshest dig the Simpsons have made at the expense of religion.

    Anyone remember this?

    Rev. Lovejoy: “No, but he was working in the hearts of your friends and neighbors when they went to your aid, be they Christian, Jew, or … miscellaneous.”

    Apu: “Hindu! There are 700 million of us!”

    Rev. Lovejoy: “Aw, that’s super.”

    But Donohue waits until the Simpsons have become a watered-down shadow of their former greatness to launch an attack?

    My biggest concern is this nutjobbery helps convince FOX viewers that they really are centrist, or “fair and balanced”.

  • Matt

    Do these Catholics realize that, first and foremost, The Simpsons is a comedy? Comedy may be “offensive”, but it’s not intended to be a serious observation. Donohue is acting like the show *only* attacks religion, when they’ve made digs at nearly everything over the year. It must suck to be continually offended.

  • Tom

    Surely moral questions about the ritual human sacrifice and cannibalism that are indeed central to the majority of Christian denominations must be asked fairly regularly, not just by detractors, skeptics and comedians but also by credulous yet confused children in sunday schools and any other newcomers who are being indoctrinated into the religion – after two millennia you’d expect those who are teaching said tenets to have a ready, satisfactory answer that fully justifies such things, should one exist. I thus find it very telling that instead, as in this case, they usually try to indignantly bluster their way out without even attempting to address the issue.

  • 1984

    “People who don’t like their beliefs being laughed at shouldn’t have such funny beliefs”

  • Last year, when Webster Cook walked out of mass with a consecrated wafer, Catholics (including clergy) were falling all over themselves to tell us that the eucharist is the body of Christ. Not in a symbolic or metaphorical sense, but a very real and literal sense. Cook’s action was compared to a kidnapping, and he received death threats for what he did.

    I’ve also run across stories of priests and bishops risking life and limb to save consecrated wafers from advancing armies in war zones, and things like that.

    From which I can only conclude that Catholics really, truly believe that they eat the flesh of their savior at mass. So I don’t see what the fuss is about.

  • John

    Remember a couple of years ago, when Kathy Griffin received an Emmy and in accepting it, managed to offend The Catholic League? She said she was a little worried until she found out that The Catholic League is some guy with a computer. I still love her for that.
    Donohue has learned to feign outrage at anything, everything, and nothing.

  • Alex perales

    i dont understand that line in the show. Reverend Timothy Lovejoy is NOT catholic and doesnt do the bread and wine thing.

  • No, Donahue, that doesn’t cross the line: Forcing someone else to avoid certain topics of conversation because you deem it untouchable is crossing the line and flies in the face of everything the first amendment stands for.

  • Jean-Denis Muys

    Please you US bloggers stop referring to Hulu until its restrictions are lifted. Instead, everytime you *would* have, send them a note telling them why you did not.

    Comforting them in their unacceptable policy is a disservice to the whole internet, you included.

    Best regards from France,


  • @bernerbits: That is a good one. But my absolute favorite line about religion comes from the episode where a protestant and a catholic are fighting over Bart and his immortal soul. In the end Bart steps in and says:

    It’s all Christianity, people! The little stupid differences mean nothing compared to the big stupid similarities!

    And talking about the little stupid differences… Alex said

    Reverend Timothy Lovejoy is NOT catholic and doesnt do the bread and wine thing.

    I’ll admit that I’m not exactly sure what denomination Lovejoy follows, but Catholics aren’t the only ones that “do the bread and wine thing.”

    When I was confirmed in the protestant Church of Sweden I got to eat Christ-crackers and drink bloodwine. This doesn’t seem to be the only non-catholic church with these practices either, see here for more on that.

  • Ohioobserver

    As a member of a Unitarian congregation I should be equally outraged at this Simpson’s dialogue form some time back:

    Rev. Lovejoy: “Have some Unitarian ice cream!” (hands Marge an empty cup)

    Marge: “But there’s nothing in it!”

    Rev. L.: “ah Ha!”

    Irony is, I think Mr. Donohue would agree completely with the sentiment.

    …Guess communionist Christians aren’t the only offendees here….

  • BlackEyes

    @ Alex perales,
    Communion is a Christian ritual, not exclusive to Catholicism. In the Protestant sect in which I was raised, it was performed at every service.
    The process was quite elaborate: silver trays with multi-hole lids made to hold tiny little glasses; each glass filled with either Mogan David Concord grape wine, or grape juice (for the kids). Flat silver trays were used to hold the cubes of Pepperidge Farm sandwich bread that were the “body” of christ (no factory-made wafers like the papists – the real thing!). Acolytes walked down the aisles and handed the trays to the first person in the pew, to be passed down the row – each person taking their glass and piece of bread. When everyone had their stuff, some words were spouted by the minister, the “body and blood” were consumed, and the acolytes returned to the aisles to pick-up the glasses. The tinkling sound of the glasses in the tray was a pretty sound, but the tedious preparation, and the clean-up after service (which I was forced to perform often) made it all seem like it wasn’t worth all the trouble. I wasn’t very old when it dawned on me that the symbolism was rather grotesque, if not just plain silly.

    So, despite Donahue’s obsession with the sanctity of the catlick Eucharist, communion ain’t just for Catholics.

  • muggle

    My favorite line was “You’ll apologize in hell!” Followed by Marge killing someone! Loved it. This was the 2nd favorite, however.

    I have to add on to the Protestant denominations that do. (And they never say what Lovejoy’s church is, do they?) We went to an Alliance church (Dad brought us because my mother wouldn’t go even though he gave up Catholicism for her) when I was little and did the ritual annually. One of my earliest memories is grabbing the little glass of wine and gulping it down before my father could stop me. LOL! Maybe that’s why I’m a tea-totaller today.

  • dNorrisM

    On one episode, Lovejoy says something like:

    “The Western Reformed branch of United Presbiluthitarianism”.

  • Polly

    i dont understand that line in the show. Reverend Timothy Lovejoy is NOT catholic and doesnt do the bread and wine thing.

    Communion is NOT limited to Catholics.
    Apostolics do it every Sunday, too. Other denominations do it less frequently, but they still believe in it enough to actually warn their congregants not to take communion in bad faith lest they receive some kind of judgement. I’ve heard that warning from 2 different Protestant denominations.

  • savagemickey

    With a salary of $350,000 per year how much does Bill make per whine? Does his contract include bonuses for extended periods of moral outrage? Do you think he’ll make it to the superbowl of indignation this year?


    I am Unitarian Universalist also – however, I found the line funny. Considering the fact that the creator Matt Groening is also UU I liked the line about the empty cup. There was a time when UUs were considered the religion who were free to believe anything – but even though we don’t have dogma, we do believe in 7 Principles. The empty cup is a blank slate and just means that we have no preconceived notions but are free to search for our meanings within the framework of those Principles. I see no reason to take offense at anything from the Simpsons. By the way, there is a curriculum based on the series & it is pretty decent at talking about some really Christian values from a UU standpoint.

  • Nes

    Add in Lutheran for another denomination that does the whole communion thing (even if it wasn’t every Sunday), or at least the Lutheran churches that I used to go to.

    Also, I had heard quite a few years ago that The Simpsons had gone downhill from what it used to be. I wasn’t able to compare, because I rarely watched TV, but after seeing this I agree completely. This line, and one other I don’t remember right now, were the only times I laughed throughout the whole show. Sad.

  • Moonshadow

    My 9-year-old son watched this episode tonight and got the joke.

    Oh, yeah, we are Catholic.

    Spot-on mocking necessitates a keen grasp of the target … and the effort in that is alone sufficient to reap the admiration of just about any Catholic.

  • Hypatia’s Daughter

    Many Protestant denominations have communion with bread & wine. However, for most (if not all), the bread & wine symbolically represent the body & blood of Christ. Catholics believe, as a tenet of faith, that the bread & wine are transmuted into the actual flesh & blood of Christ.
    So, for a Protestant, mocking communion is like mocking any symbol (like spitting on a flag); for a Catholic, it is literally like spitting on Jesus.

  • everettattebury
  • pdferguson

    Poor widdle Billy Donohue… He’s just so adorable when he’s mad. He gets to pretend he’s important and release press releases and stuff–just like a grownup!

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