With Halloween approaching, Young Sheldon, in its October 25 episode “Seven Deadly Sins and a Small Carl Sagan,” refused to miss the opportunity to create a caricature of Christians and how they regard the day.
The First Baptist Church, where Sheldon’s mother, Mary (Zoe Perry), attends, is looking to use Halloween to scare the townspeople with a haunted house showing the seven deadly sins and hell, in hopes they’ll go to church. As Pastor Jeff Difford (Matt Hobby) puts it, Mary will “have an opportunity to bring people to God by vividly demonstrating the perils of sin.”
Mary has been tasked with setting up what she dubs the “heck house” following the disaster from the previous year when “a nine-year-old crapped himself” and “one of the actors got pregnant” because of the adultery demonstration.
The idea of this “heck house” not only portrays Christians as obsessed with converting people through fear, which involves the usual anti-religious quip from Young Sheldon (Iain Armitage), but also with a focus on sin and punishment in a hypocritical way.
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Mary: Instead of calling it “Hell House,” which is a little off-putting, I'm gonna call it... “Heck House.” Isn't that great?
George Sr.: That is great.
Georgie: You don't really mean that.
George Sr.: Yes, I do.
Georgie: Oh, I get it. Happy wife, happy life.
George Sr.: You need to stop talking.
Missy: So it's not gonna be scary?
Mary: It will, but without all the blood and gore.
Missy: But I like blood and gore.
Meemaw: Hang on, y'all are trying to scare people into joining the church?
Mary: Yeah. But people like getting scared on Halloween anyway. Why not make 'em jump in the right direction?
Sheldon: Actually, fear has been a recruiting tactic used by organized religion for centuries. When you add guilt to keep people in line, it's an extremely efficient form of crowd control.
Mary: Our religion is based on love, Sheldon, not fear.
Sheldon: So what happens when people don't follow the rules?
Mary: They burn in hell. Because God loves 'em.
Thanks to a bountiful budget from the church, Mary is able to enlist the talent of high school drama teacher Mr. Gene Lundy (Jason Alexander), who when asked if he’s religious, coyly responds with “I’m an actor, I’m whatever you need me to be.” Mr. Lundy, however, as Satan, runs away with the planning and presentation of the “heck house,” which involves graphic demonstrations for lust and mentioning the positive aspects of some of the sins, such as greed, which includes a “very wealthy man” who has "a beautiful house, swimming pool, several German cars, and a young wife who worshipped him.”
Mary, in an angel costume, waits in a separate room of the house, provided by a real estate agent who was promised a role in the lust demonstration. She is alone, except for her husband George Sr. (Lance Barber) and her mother, Meemaw (Annie Potts), lamenting how nobody has come to this room decorated to look like heaven so that they may come to the faith.
The unhelpful comments from George Sr. and Meemaw as to how Mary and her church could have earned more converts are interrupted by Pastor Jeff, dressed in drag for his Halloween costume. Instead of lamenting the lack of converts, he emphasizes a celebration of all the money they’ve made, and offers grapes from his costume.
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Mary: Look at this. We threw a party for heaven and nobody came. Not one person chose to be saved.
George Sr.: Well, did you tell 'em about the cupcakes?
Meemaw: Where I think you went wrong is in your timing. If you'd done this deal during a war or a plague, then you'd have a boatload of converts.
George Sr.: Famine. Famine would bring 'em in.
Mary: What do you know about famine?
Pastor Jeff: Hola, amigos.
Mary: Hey, Pastor Jeff.
Pastor Jeff: Why so glum? This is going great. Donations are through the roof.
Mary: Nobody wants to be saved.
Pastor Jeff: Yeah, but donations are through the roof.
Mary: Is that all this means to you, raising money?
Pastor Jeff: Hey, that money is gonna do a lot of good for a lot of people. Now, quit being such a fun sponge. Here, have some grapes.
The show presents another stereotype then, that Christians are not only hypocritical when it comes to claiming to be about love, but that they care more about getting money than bringing people to the faith.
Not all is completely lost, however. Sheldon’s older brother, Georgie (Montana Jordan), has the opportunity to hook up with classmate Veronica Duncan. She wants to stop by the "heck house" before they go back to her house, however. And while Mr. Lundy’s presentation on greed doesn't seem to win over any converts, he is able to do so with lust. Veronica runs to the heaven room to become a Christian afterwards.
Veronica: What's that?
Georgie: Some stupid haunted house my mother's doing for the church.
Veronica: Let's check it out.
Georgie: But I-I thought we were going to your house.
Veronica: We are, let's just do this first. It'll be fun.
Mr. Lundy: Pleased to meet you. I go by many names: Satan...
Adult Sheldon: My mother's fears that no one would be saved that Halloween night were proven incorrect.
Mr. Lundy: As they kissed, she thought about the choices that led her to this moment.
Adult Sheldon: Mr. Lundy's scene about lust made a deep impact on my brother's date.
Mr. Lundy: Her youth was gone. She had traded her beauty for a few tawdry dollars, and now she had nothing left but shame... ...and venereal disease.
Adult Sheldon: She asked to be saved by Jesus.
Veronica: I don't want to live like this anymore.
Mary: Oh, just repeat after me...
Adult Sheldon: And as it turns out, she was. She went on to live a life devoted to God, feeding the poor, even helping her sister start a literacy program for female prisoners. My brother, on the other hand, became a devout atheist after that night.
Mary: We got one!
Being that this is Young Sheldon, however, missing out on hooking up with a girl made Georgie an atheist because his date turned into a devout Christian. Bringing up a positive and real world side effect of faith is something the show has done before, only to have adult, atheist Sheldon needing to have the last word.