Don Wildmon founded AFA to address the negative influence of television programming on American culture. In the above photo from the 1990s, Wildmon addresses a large gathering of concerned citizens.
24. Tim Winter parentstv.org AFAJ 11/13
PUSHING BACK AGAINST MEDIA POWER – As a college graduate, Tim Winter went to work for NBC in 1982. He continues his career in the broadcast industry as president of Parents Television Council, an educational organization that advocates for responsible and decent television entertainment.
PTC is a spin-off of Media Research Center, whose founder Brent Bozell continues research and education as a media watchdog to support family values in media.
Winter is on the front lines to protect children and families from the harmful effects of pop culture via television programming. PTC monitors television content and advertising, much as Don Wildmon did in the early days of AFA, and in a vein similar to what AFA’s One Million Moms online community still does today.
AFA Journal: Why does television have such a stronghold on American culture?
Tim Winter: Television, unlike any other medium, permeates our homes. What we are seeing [on TV] is not real, but how we respond to it is real. We all believe and know that when you put information and images into your mind, it affects your behavior. Every night, as Americans, we are ingesting material that is unhealthy for us morally, mentally, and intellectually.
AFAJ: Who is responsible to redeem media?
TW: The responsibility is universal for all Americans, regardless of their faith and demographics. Everyone is impacted directly or indirectly; therefore it is a shared responsibility. It’s vital that we – who have a conscience and a willingness to do so – step forward.
Our pop culture, entertainment industry, and television content are powerful forces working against the church and everything Christians hold dear. The most powerful voice is the one with the loudest microphone. The loudest voices in our entertainment media proclaim the church and its values to be bad. If there are to be future generations of children and families who hold faith precious, then it requires greater awareness of the forces that are trying to interfere with that.
AFAJ: What is one way you have seen the broadcast industry change?
TW: The ambiguity of television screens has changed. [Now they are] everywhere you look. Add to it iPhones and iPads, laptop computers, and so forth.
We are already seeing a shift where humans are becoming less social physically with one another, and social interaction is happening more and more through digital communication. Our ability to interact and be social with one another is going to starve.
Having more positive and uplifting content on screens is important, but having us understand and realize the consequences of becoming more withdrawn as humans in our interaction with one another is something that we have to fight very hard against.
This is of vital strategic importance to the church. If we allow ourselves to withdraw from human interaction, it weakens the foundation of the church and everything it is built on.
AFAJ: What is one practical way to fight the battle for decency on television?
TW: As subscribers to cable and satellite programming, you are forced to take either all of it or none of it. You can’t watch those networks that you actually want to bring into your home without also bringing into your home networks that are harmful to your family. So [advocating for] cable choice is vital to this fight because currently not only are you forced to bring harmful content [into your home], you are also forced by the cable cartel to pay for it. You're basically being forced to bring toxic waste into your home and underwrite it.
25. Ted Baehr movieguide.org AFAJ 03/14
By showing that movies with positive faith and values do better at the box office, Movieguide has influenced the entertainment industry to make more family friendly movies, even some with strong Christian faith and moral values.
‘When we started Movieguide in 1985,” founder Ted Baehr told AFAJ, “the major studios in Hollywood released few movies with any positive Christian content or values at all – less than 3%!”
Incredibly, according to Movieguide reviews, in 2016, at least 184, or 63.88%, of the major movies released theatrically by the movie industry contained at least some positive Christian, redemptive content. Also, in 1985, such movies were making about $200 to $500 million, but now they’re regularly making more than $3.8 billion.
Predictably, Baehr and Don Wildmon became friends early on, as family entertainment was AFA’s first target issue.
Dr. Baehr contends, “The mass media of entertainment is the primary teacher of our youth. It literally creates the culture.”
His years of faithful service reflect two main tracks – one, reviewing movies and alerting parents to what Hollywood is offering their families; and two, an annual awards gala that recognizes family friendly and faith based films.
26. Kirk Cameron kirkcameron.com AFAJ 09/13
“I am grateful to be a Christian in Hollywood,” actor and producer Kirk Cameron wrote in an online column more than a decade ago. “God is doing great things here.”
Widely known as the teen heartthrob who played Mike Seaver on the 1980s sitcom Growing Pains, Cameron was an atheist until age 17 when he became a Christian.
He soon assumed a new role with a new purpose and began penetrating Hollywood with the light of the gospel and a pro-family message of adoption.
A devoted husband and father of six, four of whom are adopted, Cameron travels the country hosting family and marriage conferences and teaching others how to share their faith. He and his wife also founded a camp for seriously ill children and their families.
Cameron is adamant about producing faith based, family focused films and projects that point people to Christ. His most recent work includes the movies Mercy Rules and Saving Christmas and the documentaries Monumental and Revive Us.
“For two thousand years now, God has been earnestly redeeming all things – including the arts and entertainment, government, family, church, and education,” Cameron told AFAJ. “I simply want to join Him, in my small way.”
27. Dave and Rich Christiano christianfilms.com AFAJ 05/17
Barely out of their teens, twin brothers Dave and Rich Christiano left their New York hometown in 1977, driving to Hollywood with big dreams – a career in moviemaking. Two years later, Dave was attending Arkansas State University, where he became a Christian, and then led Rich to faith about a year later.
“This changed the whole direction of my life,” Dave said. They agreed to make Christ the priority in all things, and the films they’ve written, directed, and produced ever since consistently reflect that priority.
In 1986, they released their first film, The Daylight Zone, a Christian twist on the classic Twilight Zone television series. Through the years, they have honed their craft until their titles now offer gripping story lines, great acting, and spiritual depth. Time Changer, their first feature film in theaters, remains one of the favorites among families.
The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry is another family favorite, and Remember the Goal, a 2017 release, joins the growing list. Three seasons of their 7th Street Theater television series have been airing on numerous Christian networks for 10 years.
“Our goal is to continue presenting messages for Jesus Christ,” said Dave. Goal accomplished. It shows in their work.
28. Al Menconi almenconi.com AFAJ 01/14
“When others see believers living as God intended, with their hearts in tune with His, they will desire that same peace and purpose,” Al Menconi said in an AFAJ interview. “When the fruit of the Spirit radiates from our lives, others will ask why we’re so different.”
For more than 30 years, Al Menconi Ministries has researched and revealed how music can help lives reflect the peace and purpose all people desire. He challenges Christians to grasp the fact that music is a major medium that affects our attitudes and behaviors. It can turn our minds toward holiness or toward worldliness.
Subsequently, Menconi has developed a wealth of resources to aid parents, teachers, youth leaders, and students in taking an honest look at the impact of secular music on one’s life. With his 30-day Christian music challenge, he leads them to look at what a positive impact Christian music can have.
“We accomplish this by providing practical, balanced resources on today’s entertainment for the church, school, and home,” he said. “We like to emphasize the words practical and balanced because we challenge our audience to think, not merely tell them what to think.”
29. Marvin Olasky world.wng.org AFAJ 03/15
Marvin Olasky became an atheist as a teenager and a communist as a college student. He even went as far as joining the Communist Party USA in 1972. A year later, he left and began investigating Christianity by reading the New Testament and contemporary Christian authors.
He became a believer in Christ in 1976 and continued studying Christianity and the person of Jesus Christ. His sharp wit and intellect opened a door for him to write for World magazine in 1990. He has been editor of World since 2001 and has guided it to a premiere spot among news outlets that analyze and interpret culture from a Christian perspective.
While writing for World, Olasky also taught at University of Texas at Austin (1983-2007) and served as provost of King’s College in New York City (2007-2010).
In Olasky’s book The Tragedy of American Compassion, he coined the phrase “compassionate conservatism.” He has been an outspoken voice urging Christians and the church – not government – to bear the responsibility for helping those in poverty. He has dedicated his life to helping Christians develop a solid, biblical worldview and engage culture in a way to have lasting impact.
Other articles in the 40 FAITHFUL series
We Salute You
God’s church in ministry
God’s first institution
God’s image in man
God’s view of sexuality