On a recent episode of Tracey Ullman’s Show, a sketch comedy show on BBC One, one of the sketches involved a job applicant whose stellar résumé doesn’t seem to matter when the employers realize she’s Christian.
See if you can figure out the subject of the satire.
BOSS: … Obviously, I can’t say anything official right now, but you should expect a phone call.
PATRICIA: Thank you! I just find it so difficult to boast on my CV. It’s just that, as a Christian, I…
BOSS: You’re a…
BOSS: Yeah… Okay…
PATRICIA: Is that a…?
BOSS: No… not at all. [Looks at résumé] You don’t seem to mention it anywhere here…
PATRICIA: Well, why would I?
BOSS: No, fair point…
PATRICIA: I’m not planning to run your polymer factory along biblical lines.
BOSS: Haha, no… could you just give me a second, please?
At that point, the boss invite a co-worker, Denise, to meet the applicant. When she finds out Patricia is a Christian, the conversation gets awkward again.
PATRICIA: There’s a problem with me being a Christian, isn’t there?
DENISE: Absolutely not! Legally speaking…
PATRICIA: But you both seem uncomfortable for some reason. Do you think that it makes me untrustworthy?
DENISE: No! [Laughs]
DENISE: Mm-mm! [Shakes head]
PATRICIA: A bit weird?
DENISE: [Long pause]
PATRICIA: I see. Well, in that case, I’ll just withdraw my application.
DENISE: Oh, now…
PATRICIA: It’s funny, isn’t it? It’s been perfectly normal to be a Christian in this country for the last 1,500 years or so, but now, well…
BOSS: Really sorry about this.
PATRICIA: It’s fine. I forgive you. [She leaves]
DENISE: Lucky escape.
BOSS: Yeah, what a nutter.
The joke, as far as I can tell, is that it’d be highly unusual for a Christian to be treated this way, even though that kind of discrimination is routine for Muslims, atheists, LGBT people — basically, anyone who holds an unpopular belief that somehow becomes known.
And yet conservative Christians are writing about this sketch like it’s an accurate depiction of the “persecution” they regularly face.
Focus on the Family sent it to their mailing list with the headline, “This Video Shows the Challenge of Being a Christian in the Secular Workplace.”
It’s the type of skit that makes you chuckle and cringe at the same time, isn’t it? It portrays a truth that hits too close to home.
Mark Woods, the managing editor at Christian Today, wrote glowingly about Ullman:
She’s held US citizenship and dual nationality since 2006 and she counts Meryl Streep as her closest friend. And it’s from this perspective — having lived long-term in a place where the Christian faith is separated from the state but a much more normalised part of everyday life — that she brings this critique of religious intolerance in modern Britain.
The fact is that this sort of “religious intolerance” isn’t happening against Christians. They’re firmly in the majority and just because their own actions have created a bad reputation doesn’t mean people are discriminating against them.
Ullman could just have written a sketch about someone refusing to issue a marriage license to a Christian couple, or refusing to bake a cake to celebrate a customer’s baptism, and made the same point. Christians do this to other people. Other people don’t do this to Christians.
That message was lost on conservatives, though. A joke about Christian persecution is being passed around as evidence of actual Christian persecution.
Talk about missing the point…