What Religion Are the Muppets?

Author: A. David Lewis
Published: November 24, 2011 at 9:04 pm

The pragmatic answer to "What religion are the Muppets?" is that they're made of felt, have no spirits, have no souls, and, thus, practice no form of faith. Muppets cannot have a religion, practically speaking.

And, speaking that practically and that pragmatically takes all the joy out of watching the Muppets and all the fun out of question itself. Such an answer is positively un-Muppet-like. (Lest you forget, no less than Yoda is something of a Muppet — the Dalai Lama of the Muppets, perhaps.) Regardless, when the Jim Henson Company and Hallmark Entertainment purchased a controlling share of the Odyssey Channel in 1998, the New York Times asked whether Muppet fare could mix with "Odyssey's lineup of faith-and-values programs." Not to say that any conclusive evaluation was ever reached, but the Jim Henson Company divested itself of the Odyssey Channel in 2000 (which became the Hallmark Channel in 2001).

So, let's reassess now in 2011, on the eve of the new Muppet Renaissance, the release of the new Muppet movie. To rephrase the original question slightly, if the Muppets practiced a religion, which would it be? Would they all largely subscribe to one faith? Are they sectarian? Were Dr. Bunson Honeydew and his lab assistant Beaker ever excommunicated?

Let's consider some facts. Taking television's The Muppet Show (1976-1981) and cinema's The Muppet Movie (1979), The Great Muppet Caper (1981), The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984), and...okay, The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) as canon directly from Jim Henson (1936-1990), here's what can be gleaned:

1. The Muppets aren't concerned with any orthodox purity rituals. Miss Piggy, Rolf the Dog, and Kermit the Frog are neither kosher nor halal, suggesting that, by their inclusion, the Muppets aren't concerned with much in the way of fundamental Judaic or Islamic prohibitions.

2. The Muppets recognize the clergy. Both times Kermit and Piggy were mock-wedded, the ceremony was overseen by some form of Christian minister. On The Muppet Show, it was a pig in all-black garb with a clerical collar; in The Muppets Take Manhattan, it was Dr. Cyril Jenkins, former pastor of the Rutgers Presbyterian Church of Manhattan.

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Article Author: A. David Lewis

Aaron "A." David Lewis (b. 1977 - Boston, MA) is an American comic book and graphic novel writer. He is also a comics scholar focusing on literary theory and religious studies, and he holds a Ph.D. from Boston University.

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