The 5 Funniest Religious Moments on ‘Seinfeld’
If Seinfeld fans ever decided to form an official religion around the show, you’d bet your salvation on the idea that it wouldn’t be much like other faiths — for starters, no one’s sending tithes to The Human Fund.
Though generally regarded as one of the greatest Jewish TV shows of all time, the characters of Seinfeld — minus Puddy, of course — are, mostly, aggressively areligious. In fact, sometimes they’re so secular that their refusal to partake in mainstream beliefs circles around and becomes a bit of a dogmatic practice itself. With Festivus right around the corner, now is the time of year when Seinfeld fundamentalists take stock of their grievances and physically prepare for feats of strength, while the rest of us reflect on the last 12 months through our own preferred means, religious or otherwise.
As a timeless yet theologically inconsistent sitcom, Seinfeld has, periodically, provided brief moments of existential ponderance that tickle the godless and the God-fearing alike. Here are Seinfeld’s funniest comments on faith, starting with…
George Joins the Latvian Orthodox Church While Kramer’s Kavorka Nearly Tears It Apart
Seinfeld fans might be surprised to learn that there is, in fact, a sect of Eastern Orthodox Christianity just for Latvians — the Seinfeld writers sure were. When Bruce Kirschbaum wrote “The Conversion,” he wanted to create a fake religious organization that could support the plotline about George cheating on his conversion test and Kramer nearly corrupting a nun with his animal magnetism. Instead, Kirschbaum accidentally gave the Latvian Orthodox its first major exposure on mainstream sitcoms to the delight of the Latvians. Thank Latvian God Kirschbaum knew the “main plot.”
Puddy’s Comfort With Elaine’s Damnation
Puddy never really demonstrated that much affection for his on-again-off-again female friend Elaine Benes, but his decidedly disinterested declaration that she’ll burn in hell with the rest of the nonbelievers while he’s up in heaven with his Jesus fish is one of the funniest and most revealing moments in his character’s entire arc. Funny how the most devout main-ish character on the show is also a massive New Jersey Devils fan.
George’s Selective Belief
For many of us, George’s response to the comment, “I thought you didn’t believe in God” pretty much sums up our relationship with the unknown — “I do for the bad things,” remarks the wise man. In some ways, this could be considered an expression of Pascal’s Wager, in which George decides that the consequences of disbelief are frightening enough to warrant faith. Or, maybe, this classic quote is just one of the many wonderful times when George’s pessimism collides with his narcissism.
When Jerry Went to Confession
The Season Eight classic “The Yada Yada” gave us more than one incredible religious gag, but it’s only fair that the Catholics and the Jews get their own section considering the central conflict. Starting with how he popped a squat on the kneeler, Jerry’s confession is one of the classic Seinfeld scenes that gave us so many memorable moments — like how the priest clarified that being Jewish isn’t a sin, and, when he asked Jerry if Tim Whatley’s humor conversion offended him as a Jew, Jerry dropped the iconic line, “No, it offends me as a comedian!”
Dr. Tim Whatley’s Jewish Jokes
Now for the circumcised side of “The Yada Yada,” Dr. Tim Whatley’s overzealous adoption of his new religion’s distinct comedy sensibilities that sustained them for 3,000 years (or 5,000, even better!) is one of those plotlines that couldn’t have happened on any other show besides Seinfeld. What makes this story so great is that, despite the touchy subject matter, the only group of people who ended up getting offended were the dentists. Haven’t they suffered enough?