Media Needs Christians' Voice

( [email protected] ) Apr 23, 2004 07:07 AM EDT

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – While more Christians are coming to realize the importance of media power today, Baptist leaders and Christian civic groups are encouraging Christians to actively voice their Christian viewpoints through the media to prevent any misunderstandings of traditional Christian values.

According to Baptist Press, Media Research Center (MRC), a conservative media group, has recently conducted a survey showing that the news media is biased against traditional Christianity whereas the Religion Newswriters Association responded saying the MRC’s findings are wrong.

MRC’s study pointed out the flow of the media, how it has been portraying traditional Christianity. Tim Graham, MRC’s director of media analysis, said:

“Even when the amount of religion news increases, the media’s tone remains cold, questioning, even hostile,” Graham said. “The more traditional or orthodox the religious belief, and the more influential it threatens to become in the culture at large, the more the television networks seem to explain it away, as something ‘scholars’ and ‘experts’ dismiss.”

The MRC also criticized how the media often times approach religious issues from a secular and political perspective rather than scriptural or theological perspective. It used the case of openly homosexual Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson as an example.

Further more, it pointed out that in religion stories, networks favored more liberal point of view in terms of reviewing the movie, “The Passion of the Christ” and the book, “The DaVinci Code.

However, Debra Mason of the Religion Newswriters Association disagreed with the MRC saying the survey is not an accurate representation of the whole population. Rather she criticized the media reporters who are ignorant of religious diversity. .

“The real culprit in coverage problems of religion news is not an intentional liberal slant,” Mason said. “Rather, it is ignorance from reporters unaware of the complex diversity of religious belief.”

A new conservative Christian civic group called Americans of Faith, founded by Jay Sekulow of American Center For Law and Justice, is seeking to mobilize Christians to share views on the issues through the media more at the local level and to provide education and resources to help people express their thoughts and ideas through the means of media such as newspapers, television, radio, and the internet.

Its website noted: "The vast majority of Americans receive their news from local and regional media outlets -- not national sources. Yet Christians too often fail to make their case known through the local media."

On the other hand, Southern Baptists are seeking to embrace misunderstandings of the two and encourage more Christians to enter journalism field so that only the truth based on God’s Word can be heard and to pray for reporters who are already working in the field.

“For too long, Christians have cursed the darkness,” said Smith, now vice president for communications at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. “It is time we began lighting candles. We must view the media as we would any ‘unreached people group.’”

Dwayne Hastings, editor of Faith & Family Magazine, published by the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said Christians shouldn’t rely on the secular media to receive accurate representation of faith but rather it is our responsibility as Christians to assist them to understand and portray accurate Christian values.

“(We can) ask that the playing field be level in news stories pertaining to any faith,” Hastings said, “If you have a concern about a news story you read or view, communicate your concerns to that media outlet.

“It is a given that the national press focuses on the most sensational stories, which typically are not flattering to our faith. The real stories are Christians serving quietly and changing lives in Christ’s name. While reporters look for the chinks in Christians’ armor, we need to be diligent telling the story of what Christ did for mankind by every means God provides.”