May 31, 2005

"Stations of the Cross"

This article from the Columbia Journalism Review will tell you more than you ever wanted to know (or confront) about evangelical Christian media in America. Some highlights:
Over the last decade, Christian TV networks have added tens of millions of homes to their distribution lists by leaping onto satellite and cable systems. The number of religious radio stations — the vast majority of which are evangelical — has grown by about 85 percent since 1998 alone. They now outnumber rock, classical, hip-hop, R&B, soul, and jazz stations combined.
“News provides the crossover between religious and secular, and it bridges the age gap,” [Pat Robertson] explains. Robertson continues to see news and current affairs as a means to an end. “If you buy a diamond from Tiffany’s the setting is very important,” he says. “To us, the jewel is the message of Jesus Christ. We see news as a setting for what’s most important.”
Many Christian broadcasters attribute the success of their news operations to the biblical perspective that underpins their reporting in a world made wobbly by terrorist threats and moral relativism. “We don’t just tell them what the news is,” explains Wright of the NRB. “We tell them what it means. And that’s appealing to people, especially in moments of cultural instability.”
The turmoil gripping the Middle East has proven to be a particularly appealing topic for shows like the International Intelligence Briefing and Prophecy in the News, which interpret world events — be it the rise of the European Union or the Asian tsunami — in light of biblical prophecy. This approach tends to cast events that flow from controversial human choices as the natural and inevitable march of destiny. Prophecy-focused shows suggest that the war in Iraq was foretold in the Bible, for instance.
In the months that followed the Roosevelt Room gathering, the NRB [National Religious Broadcasters] executive committee continued to meet periodically with senior White House staff members. On occasion, Bush himself attended. And monthly NRB-White House conference calls were established to give rank-and-file NRB members a direct line to the Oval Office.

George W. Bush also attended NRB’s 2003 convention and gave a speech, much of it dedicated to promoting the looming war in Iraq. At the event, the NRB passed a resolution to “honor” the president. Though the NRB is a tax-exempt organization, and thus banned from backing a particular candidate, the document resembled an endorsement. The final line read, “We recognize in all of the above that God has appointed President George W. Bush to leadership at this critical period in our nation’s history, and give Him thanks.”

I'm assuming most of the cons who read this blog are not the Jesus-con type. This is a question I've wondered about before: how does it feel to be an "enlightened" Ivy League conservative aligned with this kind of extremism, helping advance its agenda? Especially if you're a Republican of some faith other than Christianity. Are the "benefits" of the alliance worth it, or do you worry these wackos might just exterminate all you infidels once they can? To put it less hyperbolically, don't you think their power, which you're both facilitating and increasingly beholden to, is getting out of control? And don't just ascribe their ascendence to market forces and simple demand -- the Right has disproportionately yielded to lobbying by Christian fundamentalists, creating a frightening snowball effect. In short, what in Christ's fucking name are you thinking?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:24 AM

    I'm sure non-religious conservatives feel similar to how moderate democrats who are watching their party get their shit kicked in by the GOP because of the move-on and michael moore crowd feel... A sense of unease mixed with the satisfaction that while we might not agree with everything everyone in our party has to say, it's still a helluva lot better than being in the other party.