History Channel has a hit on its hands with “The Vikings.” Now in Season 3, the show is undeniably enjoyable and engrossing. An unfortunate dark stain on the show, however, is its portrayal of Christians and Christianity.
Last spring, I wrote about its bizarre antagonism — and, in that quest, huge historical inaccuracy — towards Christians, demonstrated throughout Season 2: e.g., horrific punishments done in the name of Christianity, such as crucifying apostates (a practice of which there is not a scintilla of evidence or historical record); stereotypical slovenly priests; evil Christian kings… you know the drill.
I hoped this season would be better but it doesn’t seem like it.
Season 3, Episode 5 — “The Usuper”, aired March 19th — carries on the season’s juxtaposition of the Christian English against the pagan Vikings. This episode in particular features King Ecbert‘s son, Aethelwulf, and his men, slaughtering an entire village of Viking settlers (including mowing down children) just… ’cause.
Never mind that it’s the other way around: history shows it was the Vikings who had no respect for English life and slaughtered indiscriminately in their decades-long pillaging and raping. And never mind that throughout all of Medieval Christian Europe’s history, there is not a single case of a village — much less the women and children inhabitants — being systematically murdered, or by a king’s son and with the king’s blessing (we later learn King Ecbert — modeled after the real-life King Ecgbert of Wessex — was quite pleased with his son’s actions and manipulated his son to do just that). Sure, the reason for Aethelwulf’s anger towards the Vikings is that the poor bloke learned his wife (ahem!) ‘lay with’ Aethelstan, one of the Viking crew (an English-monk-turned-Viking), so, naturally, he’s pretty upset with the Vikings and their darn settlement. But idea that murdering women and children would naturally follow as an extension of his rage, however, is absolute hogwash — it’s just another excuse for the producers to sew in further Christian smearing.
If you’re thinking, “His reaction just seems like a bit of a stretch”, you’re right. But what’s wrong with a little creative license if it checks off the “destroying Christianity one TV show at a time” goal?
Lest viewers miss the agenda here, the scene is drawn out for several minutes, with children routinely shown meeting-their-maker and women receiving a sword in the back. Aethelwulf then cries out, in an almost laughably on-the-nose moment, “It was all for this! [motioning to the cross] It was all for our Lord!”
Did I mention there is a burning cross, too? It’s all very Ku Klux Klan….The producers clearly want the viewer to make an association that Christians are only slightly less evil than Michael Myers (whether it’s Mississippi Burning or 9th century Wessex). The sad part is: Was there not a single writer or producer or even cast member who said: “Hmm, wait a minute, guys… Was cross-burning even a ‘thing’ back in the Dark Ages? That might be an anachronism.” No, apparently, no one did. But, as it turns out, it’s an embarrassing one. The earliest indications of cross burning aren’t until 19th century Scotland — i.e., a millennium later. Why? Well, burning the symbol of our Lord would kind of be a weird thing to do, huh? In fact, even the KKK only started doing it simply bc of a screw-up.
Awful mistake, writers….
The *fun* doesn’t stop there. Bring on the next episode! “Born Again,” aired March 26th, features Aethelwulf’s wife, Judith, giving birth to the illegitimate son, and Aethelwulf congratulates her through gritted teeth. So far, so good. Except, suddenly in walks a terribly mean-looking, cruel-sounding monk (as noted in my previous article, the show goes out of its way to feature odd-looking, serial-killer-vibe as Christian priests and monks). In he barges (hmm, why would a MONK be the one to lead the guards in and lead this punishment? Just go with it!) and declares that she must – keep in mind, she’s just given birth and is still in bed — come with them. Once again, in case you neglect to feel the requisite turning-in-your-stomach towards malicious Christianity, he kisses his cross (the show is reminding you he’s one of those terrible CHRISTIANS!).
Of course, there is more imagery. Not only is a monk leading her out to face-the-music but a huge cross hovers behind her.
What then follows is a highly uncomfortable scene where Judith is tied to a pole and the punishment for her adultery is to be administered (by yet another priest — this time, it’s the sadistic, unappealing one we met in earlier episodes, who crucified Aethelstan for apostasy). The punishment? Her nose is to be cut off, as well as her two ears.
For good measure, the priest notes this (utterly barbaric) punishment is the penalty “advocated by the Holy Book.”
If you’re wondering where in the Bible it calls for cutting a woman’s nose and ears off for adultery, much less harming her in any way, join the club.
But, as I noted earlier, what’s a lil’ lying (or a LOT) about the Bible, if it means attacking Christianity? After all, we know Jesus Christ didn’t save Mary Magdalene from that crowd over her sins of the flesh — he called her for body parts to be cut off!
Now, you might be protesting — “Alright, but let’s give the writers the benefits of the doubt. Perhaps they are just showing how this particular group of Christians twisted and distorted the Bible and Christianity.”
The trouble is, aside from Aethelstan (the English-monk-turned-Viking-turned-Christian-again), there are no positive — or at least neutral — Christians in the entire show. But most importantly, the example is simply too extreme — and too unlikely. There was no such practice in the Middle Ages. In fact, fornication and adultery were largely — surprisingly — shrugged over, once historical records are examined. For more, see here. A woman might find herself facing a fine for such, and her reputation ruined — but certainly not mutilation or any physical punishment. In the rare case that a townspeople might try to invoke such punishment, it would likely be (as historical records routinely show), the local priest or holy men who would intervene against such barbarism.
So what is the goal here? Why is the History Channel seemingly going out of its way to twist history in order to smear Christianity?
Series producers reportedly include:
I urge readers to express their views and ask them to reverse course on the hate, bigotry, and outright historical lies that are ruining an otherwise solid show.