6

At the end of Bread and Circuses...

... Uhura points out that the "Sun worshipers" were really "Son worshipers" and then Kirk waxes eloquent about how neat it would be to watch Christianity defeat Rome all over again. This is most I've ever seen a Star Trek episode talk about an Earth religion, and the reflection seems nostalgic and even seems to hint at a fondness for Christianity.

Given that we know Roddenberry didn't want religion in Star Trek and so on, what's the deal with this ending? Is there any backstory about why they would put this in? It is a clever twist which might justify the overall concept, but it's the tone that seems weird here. Were they under pressure to make the show more Christian-friendly? I note that the episode right before this was http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Omega_Glory in which natives decide Kirk is a deity... maybe they were trying to diffuse criticism?

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    I think it was more a quip about witnessing a historical event than an endorsement of a religion. – DarkSkyForever Apr 30 '15 at 14:34
  • Executive Meddling? – Joe L. Apr 30 '15 at 14:46
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    I read it as a "Wouldn't it be interesting if history went the other way this time?" particularly since the Federation tends to be against oppression. – FuzzyBoots Apr 30 '15 at 15:00
  • Have always felt the same way about the weirdness of Uhura and Kirk's sentiment for the show... since the mid 70s. – Lexible Apr 30 '15 at 16:27
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    I agree with @DarkSkyForever - Christianity is a major part of history regardless of its religious nature. The comment definitely came across to me as witnessing an important historical event, not particularly endorsing one religion over another. – Omegacron Apr 30 '15 at 18:41
5

According to the interviews in the the the "Captain's Logs : The Complete Unauthorized Trek Voyages", it was intended (By Roddenberry and Coon) as a twist-ending show. Ralph Senensky notes that this wasn't even the first episode that had a Christian flavour:

"Certainly there was a nice philosophy going on there with the worship of the son,"says Dorothy Fontana, "and then the indication that it was the son of God: that Jesus or the concept had appeared on other planets. I thought that was a nice touch. There have been other stories written with the same theme as the main point, but just adding it at the end really seems quite nice."

and

Director Ralph Senensky notes... "Both Gene Roddenberry and Gene Coon were writing on that show as we were shooting. I don't remember what the problem was, except that we were doing the Roman arena in modern times with television. I do remember that my concern was that the whole thing about the "sun" which they talked about from early on, might not be a mystery when we got to the end. We didn't want to tip that we were doing a Christ story from the word go. That took some doing because it wasn't really in the script, but they did it. They were sealing up the loose ends, because originally when they were talking about the sun you knew right away that they were talking about the son of God."

  • Remember, trek was already playing fast and loose with parallel history as well as parallel evolution. It wasn't usually great sf, just better than most of what we're gotten on tv and was a good fit to the Zeitgeist of the time. They were able to partly break the race and gender preconceptions; they were less able to do the same with religion except when pointing out the possible abuses thereof. "A" for effort... – keshlam May 1 '15 at 12:40

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