April 2005 – A recent E-mail to me read: “My pastor says spending time and energy trying to ‘clean up’ television is a waste of time. He says we need to spend our time on the Lord’s work and doing things that would bring people to salvation in Christ. Since your organization tries to clean up TV, what is your response to this?”
This is a good question. Yes, I’ve heard it many times over the years, but it is still a good question.
Of course, my first reaction – which comes from the flesh – is, “Oh yeah, well you can tell your pastor that America is going to hell in a handbasket because of attitudes like that.”
But I don’t react like that anymore. Instead, I try to respond in the Spirit. So, let us more closely examine the pastor’s criticism.
First of all, to say that AFA is just trying to clean up television is really an oversimplification of what we do here. Certainly, the influence of entertainment, especially on America’s youth, is of great concern to us, but that is only one aspect of our work.
If you have been a supporter of AFA, you know this to be true. Just read through this Journal and you will see that we address many moral issues that affect families.
• AFA’s Center for Law & Policy defends the constitutional rights of Christians as evidenced in the front page story.
• AFA operates a 183-station radio network (American Family Radio) which not only presents the gospel in both music and message, but also informs Christians about what is going on in our country and what they can do to make a difference in the culture war.
As part of AFR we have a news department to report the news from a Christian perspective, instead of the anti-Christian perspective of the liberal secular media.
• AFA has an online news service called AgapePress that is a Christian version of the Associated Press.
• AFA Journal mails to approximately145,000 homes nationwide each month.
• AFA maintains several Internet Web sites including www.onemillionmoms.com and www.onemilliondads.com. These online activist sites have been effective in getting many television advertisers to abandon trashy shows, and encouraging them to use their advertising money more responsibly.
• AFA was one of the pioneers in Internet filtering of pornography.
But with respect to fighting back against the tide of immorality in the media, are we, in fact, “wasting our time” as the pastor says? Here is my response: It’s often a thankless job, but someone has to do it.
One can argue (and I suppose the pastor would) that there are more important things to be addressed by the Christian community, and I would certainly understand that. However, given the enormous power of Hollywood to affect popular culture, it seems to me that there have to be organized efforts that serve as a counterbalance. To raise a standard. To be salt and light, if you will.
We believe the cultural and personal impact of music, movies and television is real. For example, the promiscuity on TV shows leads to more promiscuity in real life.
Want proof? If television does not have a powerful impact, then why do companies spend millions of dollars on advertisements? They understand the power of the message and the medium, and so should we.
So, while Christians must avoid unwholesome entertainment in their personal lives, we also have a deep concern for our culture. That’s why we care about the content of television shows, movies, music, etc. It affects us all.
Again, God may call other Christians to more important work. I would not argue that. But I contend that striving to preserve a healthy moral environment for our children and grandchildren is no waste of time.