It has become oh-so-cool to look down on mainstream religion in these days of clergy scandals and unpopular wars.
As such, our country’s Public Broadcasting Service has decided to jump on the bandwagon after decades of religious broadcasting.
The network — desperate for relevance amid the commercial success of cable networks such as Discovery, the Food Network, History Channel, etc. — will vote next month on a committee’s recommendation to dump any affiliate that airs “sectarian” content. By sectarian the committee means religious, as in “Mass for Shut-Ins,” a Catholic show aired in Washington from Howard University’s affiliate. “Mass for Shut-Ins” hasn’t been a problem since it began in 1996, but now religion is, like, way uncool.
Religious organizations can be obnoxious, hypocritical and dangerous. Mostly, however, they are a force for good. All day, every day, in every region of the planet, millions of people tend to the sick and poor, inspired by nothing other than the tenets of religion.
But this is a country in which the average intellect is formed by a sound bite on the latest TV show, or the banner headline in a newspaper. The sound bites and headlines don’t focus on the average missionary easing suffering abroad, or the financially impoverished nun who labors at the local AIDS hospice or soup kitchen.
Instead, those sound bites and headlines typically focus on people who exploit religion for selfish gain, or unspeakable evil.
A cultural mindset that’s formed by commercial media will grow only more suspicious of religion. The media will focus on the unusual, while ignoring the norm. That’s what commercial media do. We should never expect the media to give us sound bites and headlines about the planes that land safely. We should expect the media to provide endless coverage of the unusual plane that crashed.
In recent decades, religion has given the public an abundance of crashes to focus upon. Combine the scandals with religiously motivated, unpopular wars in the Middle East and, voil