AGAINST RELIGIOUS FOOLISHNESS

Christian TV Propaganda--JK's newpaper article 1980

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Article submitted by JK to the Daily Guardian, the excellent UCSD (University of California, San Diego) student newspaper and published, during the 1979-80 school year.   This article was adapted from an article by Jeremy Rifkin & Ted Howard, which appeared in the Oct. 10, 1979, Guardian.  It was based on their book The Emerging Order: God in the Age of Scarcity.  This article has been edited extensively by JK, though not in ways to change the authors' purpose or style.

 

Christian TV Bombards U.S.

 

   There is a storm brewing in the U.S. Christianity:  its center the new evangelical movement.  But like so many issues for which there is a vast amount of support, the media is void of critical comment.  The fear of losing sponsors and listeners is effective as censorship.  Fortunately, there are a few media sources that may take a critical look at this sensitive topic.

 

Christian TV Networks

With 45,000,000 U.S. listeners, 1,300 radio stations, and over 300 affiliated TV stations the size of the movement is of horrendous proportions.  These stations broadcast to a potential listening audience of 150,000,000 people.

 

Christian broadcasters are adding one new station to their arsenal every 30 days.  Two major networks PTL (Praise the Lord & People that Love) and CBN (Christian Broadcast Network) absorb most of the impetus for evangelizing by use of television.  PTL has a staff of over 550 employees and $2,000,000 of TV equipment at its center in Charlotte, N.C.  Its members contribute $25,000,000 to keep the operation afloat.  There are 179 affiliated stations (ABC has 204), making PTL the fourth largest purchaser of airtime in the U.S.  The rival Christian Broadcast Network with its headquarters in Virginia Beach, VA has a staff of 700, a $22,000,000 operating budget and 500,000 supporting members around the country.

 

And these two giants by no means have the Christian TV market cornered.  Others like Jerry Farwell, Oral Roberts, Billy Graham, Rex Hubbard, and Robert Schuller each oversee a massive multimillion-dollar TV and radio operation.  Even local churches are actively involved in a crusade to capture local cable-TV outlets, and not to surrender the airwaves to Satan.  A consortium of major U.S. business leaders, led by Nelson Hunt of the Hunt Oil Company fortune and Wallace Johnson, founder of Holiday Inn, have joined with Bill Bright of the Campus Crusade for Christ in announcing a $l,000,000,000 mass-media advertising campaign to evangelize every man, woman and child on earth at least once in preparation for the millennium.  $l00,000,000 is already in hand.  A mass Madison Avenue selling campaign is underway. It is indeed chilling to ponder the consequences such a huge propaganda campaign sponsored by the regressive elements of our society could have.

 

Christian Community

The evangelical push is not just limited to the media, but is growing within the community, like a Glacier during an ice age.  Evangelicals now talk enthusiastically about the development of "a total church living complex."  Typical of this new approach is Faith City, a Baptist Church complex under construction in Tampa.  Florida.  When completed Faith City will contain a senior citizens home, an orphanage, a college campus, ranch for boys, lake, parks, churches, and so forth.  Another approach is the Christian shopping center, piggy-backing off the success of commercial shopping centers.  They contain specialty shops and a central church complex.  There are also Christian nightclubs and restaurants featuring gospel groups, food and wholesome fruit juice cocktails.  To encourage patronage there are directories in every major city containing the names of businesses whose owners have signed an oath that they are born-again Christians.  These Christians can use the old weapons of boycott and discrimination to add the impetus of the dollar to their cause.

 

 

There are even organizations that provide Christian "Management" and offer industrial chaplains to "counsel" employees right on the shop floor.  There are over 5,000 evangelical elementary and high schools; in the past ten years the Christian school movement has more than tripled.  Two new Christian schools are being established every 24 hours.  There are well over 1,000,000 students in them.  They study the biblical view of the world and each persons role in it.  For example, in social studies Christian curriculum stresses that original sin is the basis of all human behavior in the physical world.  No one knows if and when this attack upon reason will begin to slow down.

 

Mythical Causality

For those of us who want to develop a new society we all too often find that out opposition are mostly members of some church.  Basic freedoms such as gay rights, abortion, and the Equal Rights Amendment are staunchly opposed by Christian organizations.  Leaders like Karl Macintyre make speeches weekly on radio and TV about fighting the godless communists, and "fearing god more than the bomb."  Just like the VFW, the born-again Christians form a vast pool from which the conservatives draw their support.  To a great extent, evangelical America is the silent majority that former President Richard Nixon spoke to and for during the turbulent years of the late l960s and early I970s.  It is these backward looking and thinking people that provide the conservative pull and shape our future into one of following, rather than setting, trends.  Its impossible to forge America into a progressive country, to develop the economic changes needed for full employment and prosperity for all, to develop a truly progressive third party, and to defuse the atomic menace which has placed us on the brink of destruction when in this country there is a huge religious conservative majority.

 

How prophetic.  Church attendance had

been dropping for over a century.   I

feared that the churches might be able to

not merely stop the growing enlightenment

but reverse it through their aggressive use

of the media.  Unfortunately, I was right.

 

Why this has proceeded in the United States more than in

Europe is the result of several causes.  First that the

percentage of those attending Churches at least twice a month

has in the 60's and 70's been several fold greater than in

England, France, and Scandinavia, where it hovered about

10%.  Thus there was a greater base of financial support for

the religious programming.  Second, our education is inferior

to the above named countries.  And thirdly, as convincingly

argued in The Bell Shaped Curve, the United States scores

lower on IQ tests--the root of why our schools are way worse

than in Western Europe and Canada.