CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Faith, Unbelief and the Media

Jun 19, 2007

A number of studies have been conducted over the years demonstrating that those in the mainstream media tend to be very much of the left when it comes to politics, and very secular when it comes to matters of belief. Today the MSM is overwhelmingly dominated by those of the secular left.

As an earlier example, back in 1986 Lichter, Rothman and Lichter wrote a book entitled The Media Elite. Based on a ten-year study by several universities, it found that the media elite are largely left of centre in politics and ideology, and they nowhere near reflect mainstream American opinions, beliefs or values.

Or consider a more recent example. You may recall the story that appeared last year about the incredible bias of the BBC. A leaked record of an “impartiality summit’” called by BBC chairman Michael Grade revealed that the British broadcaster is dominated by leftists who regularly show their disdain toward traditional British values. Executives at the BBC admitted that it is dominated by homosexuals and people from ethnic minorities. Moreover, it is anti-American, and more interested in placating the feelings of Muslims than Christians.

Such bias has not come about simply by accident. Around 80 years ago the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci said the most important mission for socialism was to ‘capture the culture’. He spoke of the “long march through the institutions” by which he meant, the way to bring about a victory for socialism was to capture the institutions of power and influence, such as the universities, the media, the courts, and even the churches.

Instead of violent revolution from without, a gradual takeover from within was what Gramsci had in mind. And his strategy worked, big time. Many of us radicals in the 60s counter culture did just what he suggested. We (yes, I used to be one of them) took classes in journalism so we could take over the media. We took classes in political science so we could capture the political arena, and so on.

Just a few short decades after the cultural revolution, most of the institutions of power and influence were heavily dominated by secular leftists. And that is the situation we find ourselves in today. Thus it is not surprising that the MSM today dishes up a regular diet of secularist, leftist pap.

This helps, in part, to explain why the West as a whole is in such strife today. The West used to be overwhelmingly Christian. Then it progressed, or rather regressed, into being post-Christian. Now it has taken a clear turn toward being decidedly anti-Christian. The war against biblical Christianity is hotting up big time.

There are many indicators of such an anti-Christian tilt. Let me offer just one. I was recently checking out what was hot reading at a large bookstore in town. My discovery was quite disturbing. These are the top five non-fiction books at Reader’s Feast Bookstore in Melbourne (as of Friday June 8, 2007):

1. God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens.
2. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.
3. Romulus, My Father by Raimond Gaita.
4. The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.
5. Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam by Michel Onfray.

Notice what is going on here: three of the top five works of non-fiction are books by militant atheists, and one is by a New Age fruit loop. If that is what we are mainly soaking up in Melbourne, then we are in deeper trouble than I had thought. And this would be representative of much of the Western world.

Now much of the reason for this heavy proliferation of anti-Christian reading is simply because the media, as mentioned, is largely anti-Christian, and is quite happy to promote unbelief, flog atheistic titles, and generally push the radical secularist agenda.

Thus the media has much to answer for in this regard. But what am I suggesting? That they should never promote atheists and their works? No. But a bit of equal time would at least be appropriate. It would be nice if theists featured as prominently as the anti-theists do in many of our major media outlets.

When a Richard Dawkins or a John Pilger or a Michael Moore comes waltzing into town, the media goes all weak in the knees, and features them everywhere, ad infinitum, ad nauseam. But if a leading Christian intellectual arrives down under, he or she tends to simply be ignored by the MSM.

And it would be nice if the bookstores also were a bit more even handed. For example, at the bookstore mentioned above, I had previously mentioned to the staff there that a very good rebuttal of The God Delusion, also written by an Oxford colleague of Dawkins, and who used to be an atheist himself, would be good to have available. They got back to me, leaving a message, saying they couldn’t get it in. Couldn’t? Or wouldn’t? The author, Alister McGrath, has written and sold many books over the years. So why couldn’t they get copies of his important work, The Dawkins Delusion?, to sell?

The problem is, those who are pro-faith, pro-life and pro-family find very few allies in the MSM. Which is why alternative media outlets like the blogosphere are being used to get much-needed truth into the public arena. Thus a warning to any believer who is hoping to pen a best seller: it will be difficult to do so, given the bias of our media and booksellers. But not impossible. Occasionally Christian books make it into the best seller lists. Just don’t count on it, that’s all.

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11 Responses to Faith, Unbelief and the Media

  • Occasionally Christian books do make it to the best seller lists but unfortunately often such books aren’t of much value. Many of the popular Christian books are faddish in nature and don’t usually address anything of substance.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria

  • I did media studies – early seventies – and was struck by the anti-west, anti-capitalist and anti-religious tendencies of the lecturers.

    Ironically, Philip Adams in today’s Australian bemoans the scarcity of left-wing columnists in today’s newspapers. I think he really means how little they are listened to rather than how much output they are responsible for, of which there is still plenty.

    Paul Kennedy

  • It is not good what the media is doing. What we need is for positive books and films related to Christianity to do well such as hopefully the film ‘Amazing Grace’ due to be released near the end of next month I believe. If enough people show they are interested, businesses will inevitably try and profit of this and sell what people want.

    If you want to read Christian Books go to a Christian Bookstore (you may find some gems there) or look online.

    Matthew Mulvaney

  • I suspect the books stocked refelect what people are buying.
    Tas Walker

  • Thanks Tas
    But people cannot buy what is not available. That is my point. If bookstores mainly feature books of one persuasion only, then customers are limited in their purchasing choices.
    Moreover, if these secularist authors get wide media exposure, while more conservative and Christian ones don’t, that also limits choices, and skews the results.
    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill,

    I speak from the perspective of a non-believer, but I have to agree that religion is no longer taken seriously. There was a time, not so long ago, when Christianity was dominated by the mainstream denominations, and if a bishop, priest or other recognised leader spoke publicly, they were listened to with a certain amount of respect.

    But in the last 40 years or so we’ve seen the rise of fundamentalism, particularly in the USA. Religion has become an industry and a commodity, and anyone with a bible diploma and a bit of marketing skill can open a church. The televangelists have done no one any favours, especially as so many of them seem to be hypocrites who are only interested in getting rich. Benny Hinn is a prime example.

    There is also the perception that conservative Christianity is scientifically ignorant at best, anti-science at worst. The rise of young-earth creationism, and the puzzling tendency for Christian conservatives to side with the climate change deniers are cases in point.

    Add to that the conservative obsession with demonising homosexuals, and you’ll see why Christianity is commonly regarded as regressing to a past era of ignorance, intolerance and superstition, unwilling or unable to find relevance in today’s world.

    I actually think spirituality still has a part to play in society, but organised religion really need to take a good hard look at itself and its image if it is to regain the credibility and respect it once had.

    And I’m not just criticising Christianity. Islam has an even bigger credibility problem.

    Steve Angelino, WA

  • I think this is a very compelling argument for us to support Christians who serve within the MSM and those who serve in Christian Media.
    Kari Seeley

  • Pro faith, pro life, pro family is now the narrow way. Thanks for the post.

    I just wrote a red flag post about the Secret. Many baby Christians are being deceived by the twisted Scriptures used to promote this book.

    Robin Sampson, Virginia, USA

  • Thanks Steve

    But you have it all backwards. You are seeking to argue that secularism is simply a reaction to fundamentalism, when it is the other way around. As I have agued elsewhere, the continual assault of the secularists, beginning from the Enlightenment in general, and the late 60s in particular, is the real reason why believers decided it was time they stood up for their interests. And why shouldn’t they?

    And there is no ‘obsession with demonising homosexuals’. Again you have it backwards. The homosexuals activists are the ones obsessed: obsessed with their war on marriage, family and morality. That is what has provoked believers to again stand up for the things that really matter.

    That there are hypocrites and poor representatives of Christianity, no one is disputing. But you of course simply are throwing the baby out with the bathwater here. And you are playing unfairly once again: you should either compare the good of Christianity with the good of atheism, or compare the bad eggs of Christianity with the bad eggs of atheism. But don’t pretend Christianity is only about the bad eggs, while atheism is only sweetness and light.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Well observed Bill.

    In such a media-centric society it is naive to think that majority view of journalists don’t impact on Joe Average’s opinion. As we are saturated in secular (anti-religious?) and leftist opinions, popular culture gets dragged along, for lack of any reasonable alternatives.

    Right-leaning authors/journalists are either ignored or met by the popular media’s ‘atheistic inquisition’ (as you well know Bill). It is not surprising that concerned Christians feel the need to buck against current trends.

    Luke Beattie

  • Dear Steve, I am standing in a room with a lighted torch; the room gradually grows darker and darker; the torch, which has not changed in its fundamental intensity, appears to be growing brighter, but it isn’t. It only appears to be so. You may think that the Bible is being preached with fundamental vigour, but this is even a pale shadow to the way it was in a time before the sixties. If you want fundamentalism read Spurgeon of the 19th century, or Bunyan of the 17th. But better by far is to read the whole counsel of Jesus Christ in all four gospels.
    David Skinner, UK

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