Religious jokes: Good clean fun or offensive?

Comedians on the old comedy circuits used to tell plenty of religious jokes, usually about their own religion or denomination. The habit was still going strong during the years of “The Tonight Show” in Steve Allen’s tenure and Johnny Carson’s tenure. I thought most of the jokes were funny.

Now, with so much hatred in our world, I wonder if those jokes can still be told. I think we should still be able to tell them, but worry that they might be taken as an offensive attack rather than a lighthearted jest aimed at the foibles of our own or our friends’ beliefs.

Perhaps our concern about the jokes tells us just how rampant the hatred has become. Rather than friends laughing at their differences, we seem to have become enemies attacking each other over things that don’t matter or things that seem threatening now to live as we know it.

This joke, from 58+ Quirky & Hillarious Baptist Jokes, is the sort of thing I’m talking bout: “After the plane took off, the cowboy asked for a whiskey and soda, which was brought and placed before him.

The flight attendant then asked the preacher if he would like a drink.

Appalled, the preacher replied, “I’d rather be tied up and taken advantage of by women of ill-repute, than let liquor touch my lips.”

The cowboy then handed his drink back to the attendant and said, “Me too, I didn’t know we had a choice.”

So, do you laugh or do you say that such jokes aren’t woke?

Or this, from Brentwood Presbyterian Church:

A woman visitor to a Presbyterian Church was disrupting church one day with your enthusiastic yelps of “Praise God!” and “Hallelujah!” One of the ushers tried to quiet her down. He tried to explain to her that she was disrupting the worship service.

“But mister, I got religion!” The woman proclaimed.

“Yes, madame,” replied the usher. “But you did not get it here!”

I see the humor in that. I grew up in the Presbyterian church and knew that we were fairly boring to the members of other denominations, especially the Southern Baptists whom we thought really overdid the gaudy decorations in their church.  The Methodists had two pulpits for reasons we didn’t comprehend, so we assumed it allowed the ministers to speak out of both sides of their mouths.

Growing up, I poked fun at the Presbyterian Church’s historic belief in predestination, including the concept of election, a philosophy that asserted those going to Heaven and those going to Hell were predetermined and unchangeable. My approach to this was that it didn’t matter whether we went to church or not since our fate was already engraved in stone. My parents and minister didn’t like my view, but then I was quoting doctrine.

So, what’s your take? Can I still say I’m giving up sobriety for lent or is that something I shouldn’t say?

As a writer, I always like to push the envelope–or perhaps destroy it–but the hatred of the times keeps trying to keep us in line.



5 thoughts on “Religious jokes: Good clean fun or offensive?

  1. I love religious jokes for the very reason you mentioned–they point up the silliness of following a religion to the letter of its laws instead of its spirit.
    Here is one of my favorites, but is it funny or hateful?
    A priest and a rabbi were neighbors, and were always trying to out-do each other.
    When the priest bought a cadillac, so did the rabbi.
    But he had to pause for thought when to priest baptized his car with holy water. But then he went into his garage, got a pair of tin snips and cut a piece out of his car’s tail pipe.

  2. Emo Philips’ joke was voted the best religious joke ever. It’s in danger of being outlawed for being offensive (as are all such jokes), though it does point out the absurdity of how religions sometimes divide us when they should be uniting us.

    “Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, “Don’t do it!” He said, “Nobody loves me.” I said, “God loves you. Do you believe in God?”

    He said, “Yes.” I said, “Are you a Christian or a Jew?” He said, “A Christian.” I said, “Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?” He said, “Protestant.” I said, “Me, too! What franchise?” He said, “Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?” He said, “Northern Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?”

    He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region.” I said, “Me, too!”

    Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.” I said, “Die, heretic!” And I pushed him over.”

    1. Yes, that’s quite good. I think banning them impacts our freedom of speech and would find THAT would be offensive. The First Amendment doesn’t say one’s speech cannot offend anybody.

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