Local Television Studio Pulls Program Off Air

Mar 15, 2003 10:57 AM EST

RALEIGH, N.C. – Religious leaders praise a local television studio for its decision to pull a nationally broadcasted series from the air. The Fox television affiliate in Raleigh N.C. executives concluded that the reality show, “Married by America… did not reflect prevailing standards of good taste and that the show was clearly demeaning to the institution of marriage."

In the show, five singles are paired with complete strangers, under public discretion. According to the program’s website, "Once face-to-face, these new couples will embark on a journey toward matrimony in hopes that they have indeed found their one true love." The couple chosen by America to be married will win $1 million if they can stay married for 180 days.

Pastor of the First Southern Baptist Church in Del City, Tom Elliff, commended the studio’s decision to pull the show.

"The fact that their executives hold to the notion that marriage is a sacred institution is not only a rarity among their peers but worthy of commendation," he said. "Secular media outlets have a recent history of portraying the traditional family as a comical oddity with the father, in particular, generally scripted as nothing more than a dimwitted buffoon.

"Finally, one network has taken a step toward strengthening the family, recognizing its crucial role in society and acknowledging the importance of enduring love. [Christians] have placed the family high on its list of priorities, determining to do everything necessary to strengthen and preserve the divine institution of marriage. As such we welcome the efforts of any media outlet to do the same," continued Elliff.

Dwayne Hastings, vice president for communications with the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, also supported the decision.

"Two thumbs up for a local television station that is willing to put morality before dollars," Hastings told Baptist Press. "WRAZ's decision not to air the crass reality show, Married by America, is refreshing. The program's plot is degrading, despicable, and can only further damage the fraying moral fabric of our nation.

"It is God who ordains the institution of marriage, not a hundred thousand Americans mindlessly gripping their television remote. This is not entertainment; it is voyeurism, and as such, is an unhealthy obsession for many American television viewers. I can only hope that more television station executives will display the moral fortitude necessary to make the right and God-honoring decision to pre-empt programs that promote such immoral and God-dishonoring behavior," Hastings said.

Todd Brady, instructor of Christian studies and minister to the university at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., recently criticized the now disjunct program. "The seriousness of marriage should not be trivialized as a tool of entertainment for the masses. Nor should it be used as a way of making money. Marriage is an end in itself and not a means to another end," he said.

Brady applauded the action and reminded Christians to have depth in viewing current day issues.

"Perhaps their pulling of this show indicates that there are many who are more interested in truth than entertainment," Brady said. "I think shows like this are an opportunity for Christians to speak about the real issues behind the shows. Just because it's interesting or unique should not confuse our thinking about what is right or good."

The WRAZ-TV studio in Raleigh had taken similar action in 2001 by discontinuing the reality series, “Temptation Island,” in which featured couples tried to ward off advances of singles at an island resort. According to the local newspaper, the studio instituted a policy that prevented broadcasts of reality programs that demeans marriages.

By Pauline J.