NASHVILLE – Christian broadcasters gathered in Music City for their annual convention Saturday were called to protect their freedom to present God's message as efforts to pass hate crimes legislation are underway.
There is a cultural hostility against preaching the word of God that is overflowing to legislation, said Frank Wright, president and CEO of National Religious Broadcasters, at the opening session of the 65th NRB Convention & Exposition in Nashville.
"We must be one in Christ to face the days ahead," he told a crowd of 6,000.
Wright explained that under hate crimes legislation, which was successfully blocked from the 2008 Defense Authorization Bill last year, religious broadcasters would be liable for criminal acts even though they are the indirect cause of someone's mental or emotional anguish.
Programming that discusses someone's sexuality would be one of many targets, he noted.
Nevertheless, Wright called upon religious broadcasters to continue to boldly preach "Christ and him crucified" to the world.
During the opening session, attendants also heard addresses from Dennis Rainey, president of Family Life and Steve Brown of Key Life Networks. Christian music artist Michael W. Smith led worship.
Every year the convention draws together thousands of Christians in the communications and media field for four days of showcasing, networking luncheons and educational sessions. Exhibitors launch and present their newest products while attendants get up to speed on how the latest advances in Christian radio, television and internet media can help further the message of their ministries.
This year, the event is being held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center – the site for the convention for the next two years.
Topics covered during the education sessions this year include switching to Hi-Def production, how to increase web traffic using web analytics and reaching a YouTube generation.
An exposition of over 400 exhibitors will open its doors on Sunday at noon.
On Tuesday morning, President George W. Bush is confirmed to make an in-person appearance at the convention to address the global war on terror.
Also, Ben Stein, host of the highly talked about movie "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed," will make an appearance that same day. An advanced screening of the film will be shown.
The convention concludes March 11.