Ahem. Original reaction:
Goddammit. Yes you can live in reality! I love looking at representations of religion, but Glee... The only characters that express atheistic sentiments are the big bad Sue and deeply troubled Kurt. All normal people consent to believe in something bigger than themselves. Atheists are sad and troubled while religious people have comfort in groups. This isn't some sort of injustice, but it's not the way I want to see our culture's general opinion on religion. Can't it be okay to just not believe in God?
After composing self:
Glee had a religion episode! Whooooo!
Religion's complicated for sure, so I understand that, no matter what they showed, it would not be polarized enough for those of us with opinions about religion. I'm sure that the creators of Glee, for practical and moral reasons, did not want to distance any part of their audience. So we get a show that seems to make atheists look like spiritual people waiting to happen. This is corroborated by quotes from the show's co-creator, Ryan Murphey. From Wikipedia:
Sue's philosophical argument with Emma about religion is the scene that Murphy is "most proud to have been involved with in [his] entire career." Explaining Sue's stance on religion, he stated: "Sue's an atheist, but I love that she doesn't want to be. She and [Kurt] are both saying to the world, 'Prove us wrong: If God is kindness and love, make me believe in God.'"Murphy felt it would have been easy to have Kurt sing an anti-religious song, but instead chose to have him sing about his faith in love.
Murphey also said that there were plans to include a Christian character because, "if we're trying to form a world of inclusiveness, we've got to include that point of view as well."
Glee is a pretty good thermometer of social opinion, from what I can tell but it's probably also setting a lot of trends. Kurt's father didn't miraculously wake up after prayers and Kurt didn't cave to the emotional pressure of believing in God after a rather emotional confrontation about belief. Having Kurt as a strong atheist with "faith in love" is excellent. I do wish that there was an atheist represented who wasn't bitter, but I suppose that's the type of thing that only a show that specifically sought to improve the appearance of atheism would do. Glee isn't supposed to be controversial. It's a happy show "about inclusiveness." I'm not sure that taking Glee too seriously will do anyone any good. So overall, I love that they made the show. They could have used their massive popularity to prevent atheists from looking like assholes, but it's okay that they didn't--- I'll still enjoy Glee.
PS: I'm not touching the whole Jesus on the Sandwich thing.