There were moments of real horror in the second season of True Blood.
To my mind, it rendered blasé the tired scenes of vampires lunging for the throat with fangs extended. Those things, no matter how realistically portrayed in shows like this, belong to the realm of fiction. The human inspired cruelties do not.
The sight of happy-clappy Christians preaching genocide with a smile brought goose-bumps to my arms. I shifted uncomfortably in my seat, as terms like 'race traitor' were hurled, alongside the exhortation that Jesus wanted you to kill. God above had ordained Holy War against the vampiric spawn of Satan. Not only they, but the humans who sympathized with them, had to die in the glory of the Almighty.
True Blood hit very close to the bone with such things. It reminded you how often preachers and priests appear on the television railing against gay marriage. Some of the speeches appeared almost lifted from the similar fire and brimstone sermons supporting racial segregation in the days of Jim Crow.
In Season Two of True Blood, Christianity suddenly felt very evil. The extremists within it were the real monsters here. It was left to the more quietly spoken prayers of people like Sookie Stackhouse to redeem the religion, and to remind us that Jesus Christ probably wouldn't have advocated anything like this.
And just in case any Pagans, like myself, felt any modicum of smugness over this portrayal, the second major story arc involved us. What began as hints of dark witchcraft in the woods exploded into orgies of Bacchanalian proportions. Sex, violence and sacrifice, all coupled with a very blatant metaphor of brain-washed adherents, hammered the message home.
Religion, at its best, can be family. It can provide a sense of belonging in a world where isolation is rife. It can produce very clear guidelines for your actions, when society exerts so much pressure to get things right. But at its worst, religion can harbor deadly intolerance and hatred. It can unleash a murderous mob.