Christianity in The Simpsons: Top 12 Reverend Lovejoy Quotes

Who is the most watched preacher on American TV?

For the past 20 years it has probably been the Reverend Timothy Lovejoy of the First Church of Springfield. This is both funny and depressing. Funny, because The Simpsons is good satire (or used to be); depressing because for many Reverend Lovejoy is the face of modern Christianity – or at least the face of the Western Branch of American Reform Presbylutheranism!

I’m not going to get into any debates about whether art mirrors or molds society. But the influence of The Simpsons is so pervasive (up to 35m viewers for 20 years running) that it is probably fair to say that when many people think of church they think of Lovejoy quoting the law (“Keep holy the Sabbath day”) or proverbs (“a gentle answer turneth away wrath”) or other Biblical-sounding phrases that seem to have no relevance to modern life. Like this one:

“…and so when Eliphaz came down from Mount Hebron bearing figs, he offered them to Mohem, who you will remember is the father of Sheckhom. And to Hazar on the occasion of their matrimony, much in the same….”

Lovejoy is famously long-winded. He is cynical and apathetic. And yet Springfielders keep going back to his church Sunday after boring Sunday. Such is the hold of religion in a world unacquainted with the grace of an awesome God.

Still, he makes me laugh so here are 12 of my favorite Lovejoy quotes:

1. “Thanks to you, I’ve rediscovered a form of shame that’s gone unused for seven hundred years.”

2. “Once something has been approved by the Government, it’s no longer immoral.”

3. “Oh just about everything is a sin. Have you ever sat down and read this thing? Technically we’re not allowed to go to the bathroom.”

4. “Wait a minute, this sounds like rock and or roll.”

5. “I remember another gentle visitor from the heavens, he came in peace and then died, only to come back to life, and his name was E.T., the extra terrestrial. I loved that little guy.”

6. [in the jail cell with Hans Moleman] “Alright Hans, time to go.” [Hans complains that his last meal was eaten] “Well, if that’s the worst thing that happens to you today, consider yourself lucky.” [Hans asks him if executions can be done from a local jail] “From this point on, no talking.”

7. “Everyone is saying Gabbo this and Gabbo that, but no one is saying worship this and Jericho that.”

8. [about the last rites] “…that’s Catholic Marge. You might as well ask me to do a voodoo dance.”

9. “And once again tithing is 10% off the top. That’s gross income, not net. Please people, don’t force us to audit. Now I’m going to pass this around a second time. Brother Ned, you’ll do the honors.”

10. “Not the church! Jesus lives there!”

11. “Dearly beloved, I will now read the special vows which Homer has prepared for this occasion. Do you Marge take Homer in richness and poorness, poorness is underlined, in impotence and im-po-tence, in quiet solitude or blasting across the alkali flats in a jet powered monkey navigated…and it goes on like this…”

12. [Ned asks “is God punishing me.”] “Ooooh short answer yes with an if, long answer no with a but…”

Priceless!

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