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February 15, 2006
Column #1,277
Anti-Christian Bias In Media
by Michael J. McManus

Last week I praised the restraint of American media in reporting upon the offensive cartoons of Mohammad which continue to roil the Muslim world, causing riots, deaths and burnings of European embassies and American corporate outlets abroad. 

I wish I could say America's media were as respectful of Christianity.

The good news is that Christians are learning to fight back and win.

The American Family Association led a battle against NBC's new program in January called "The Book of Daniel," which, of course, had nothing to do with the biblical Book of Daniel. The show's main character was Daniel Webster, a drug-addicted Episcopal priest, who chats with Jesus. 

Then there's his "typical Christian family": an alcoholic wife, his son, a 23-year-old homosexual Republican, a 16-year-old drug dealer daughter, a 16-year-old adopted son who has sex with the bishop's daughter, and Webster's sister-in-law in a lesbian affair with her husband's secretary.

The show was written by Jack Kenny, a homosexual who says he's in "Catholic recovery," dabbles in Buddhist reincarnation, and states, "I don't necessarily know all the myth surrounding him (Jesus) is true."

AFA alerted its two million members by e-mail, and NBC received more than 600,000 e-mails asking the network not to run the series, before it began.  NBC ignored the advice, and launched the series. Ten NBC stations, including those in Nashville, Little Rock and Amarillo refused to run "The Book of Daniel." Christians picketed other NBC outlets, such as San Antonio.

Don Wildmon, AFA Chairman, reported that at a screening of the first episode in Knoxville, Rev. Brian Kearns, of Lighthouse Christian Church, said, "I think it's very demeaning to Christianity. It is an assault on the Christian faith."  Dale Powers of the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville, added, "You're portraying something as normal that is just absurd."

Mazda and Burlington Coat Factory sponsored the first show but were so blistered by Christian criticism, that by Episode #3, they had disappeared.

NBC dropped the show not because it infuriated Christians, but due to a lack of sponsors. But did NBC learn its lesson?  It did not. An NBC press release announced that Britany Spears would appear in an episode of "Will & Grace," as the "conservative sidekick" to a gay TV host, cooking something called "Cruci-fixins" the day before Good Friday!

That was so blasphemous hundreds of thousands of Christians e-mailed NBC again. This time the network realized its mistake and said Britany would not serve "Cruci-fixins."

How could NBC executives be so offensive to Christians?

"They can offend Christians without any consequences," says Tim Wildmon, AFA President. "We are considered backward people.  We are not Muslim, so we will not blow up their buildings. They feel free to attack Evangelicals and conservative Catholics."

There are a few positive shows from a Christian perspective, such as "Doc," about a Montana country doctor who moves his practice to Manhattan, as unlikely as that seems. However, it appears on the Pax Cable Network, and is being dropped.

Nothing similar airs on NBC, CBS or ABC.  "Touched by an Angel" proved that network TV can produce truly constructive programming that treats Christianity with respect. "The Bill Cosby Show" demonstrated it is possible to produce a delightful show about a normal family. Yet both shows have been gone for years.

The big networks have been losing market share to the Cable Networks. Don't their marketing geniuses ever consult Gallup Polls?  More than eight in ten Americas affiliate with a Christian faith, according to Gallup. Two-thirds are members of a church or synagogue, and 42 percent attended services in the last week. Even 70 percent of those with post-graduate degrees are church members, a higher percentage than those with less education.

Hollywood has begun to pay attention. "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe" hit a home run, and has already earned $640 million worldwide, before opening in Japan. "The Passion of the Christ" was a similar blockbuster a year earlier.

According to Ted Baehr, founder of the Christian Film & Television Commission, 80 percent of the ten most popular films in 2005 had "strong or very strong moral content" and only three of the top 25 films were rated R. Films with strong Christian content earned $106 million; those with solid moral content, $60 million and anti-Christian films, $10 million. In fact, 47 percent of Hollywood's 250 films were acceptable vs. only 2 percent when the Commission got started.

It is time for TV executives to wake up and smell the coffee.
 
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