Religion and the media

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  • Created by: devinter
  • Created on: 21-04-16 17:54


‘Media’ is the collective term for all the means of mass communication used in today’s world  It includes newspapers, magazines, radio, television, the internet, artwork, etc

We all use the media for entertainment, communication, shopping, etc. Any form of media can be used in a variety of ways and can have different influences.There is no real consensus among Christians as to which forms of media are good and which are bad.

The media and religion can impact on one another in a variety of ways:

  • Representations of Christianity in the media
  • Representation of lifestyle and other areas which may influence watchers
  • A platform for the presentation of moral issues 

Any form of media may raise general concerns for Christians about what is being portrayed, the messages that are being given or the influence it has on people 

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Strong messages can be given by television and film; these may be positive or negative and Christians may be concerned that:

  • Some regular viewing (such as soap operas) may present a biased or distorted image of acceptable behaviour
  • Some programmes encourage waste, consumerism or other things deemed inappropriate by believers
  • Many celebrities could be seen to provide negative role models for young people
  • The number of channels available and the easy access to TV and the internet mean that young children may have access to material which is not suitable for them
  • Television in particular is responsible for many negative stereotypes 
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Performing Arts

Music is probably the most commonly experienced art form. It is used not only for entertainment in its own right but for advertising and to influence our moods in, for example, shopping centres. Christians may be concerned that:

  • Much modern music gives strong messages about sex rather than enduring relationships
  • Music can encourage rebellion and/or social unrest
  • Some kinds of music have negative associations, such as rap and gang culture or heavy metal and devil worship
  • Tools for downloading and listening to music such as MP3 players and iPhones are extremely desirable and could encourage greed
  • People listening to MP3 players in public places are more self-contained and less likely to notice and help someone in trouble 
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The Internet

The internet is still growing and is extremely difficult to police

There are many illegal but relatively easy to access sites for criminal activities or extreme sexual acts

There are also sites which are legal but could be viewed as negative such as some social networking sites

There may also be concerns about the safety of young people on the net

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The Positive Side

Christians are evangelical and do proselytise; all form of media can be used for this

There are websites, dedicated television channels and radio programmes – all of which can reach a wider audience than ever before

Films can be used to promote Christian values or to bring core Christian beliefs to life for an audience

Television and the internet enable people who cannot get to a real church to feel part of a community of believers and to worship as part of a group 

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Christianity on Film

There are many films and television programmes which give a representation of Christianity:

  • The Vicar of Dibley is a situation comedy about a small village which has a female vicar •
  • Father Ted is a situation comedy about the Catholic priesthood in Ireland, in which the central character lives and works with two other priests to minister to the small community of Craggy Island
  • • The Last Temptation of Christ and The Passion of the Christ are both film retellings of the story of Christ‟s ministry, crucifixion and resurrection
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Pros for Christianity in films

People in Support Say...

  • Christian values can be shared in this way with audiences who would otherwise never encounter them
  • Freedom of speech is a core value of our society, and if people have something to say they should be allowed to say it even if others will not like it
  • If faith is to survive in the modern world it has to adapt to and use modern technologies
  • Groups that take themselves too seriously are more likely to be further mocked, while ‘entering into the spirit’ of things or ignoring them demonstrates security and confidence
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Cons for Christianity in films

People in Opposition Say...

  • Many of these present faith as something absurd, to be mocked and made fun of
  • Where Jesus, God or the devil is represented there is a risk of blasphemy or idolatry – both sins. Even where there is no sin per se they can be seen as disrespectful
  • Modern technologies, including mass communications, are not referred to in the Bible and are therefore not the work of God
  • Insults to Christianity are insults to God and to ignore them encourages people to think that it is acceptable to insult God 
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Christianity and the Written Word

There are also books and comics that represent Christianity or that give a Christian message such as:

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is a retelling of the central Christian story in a fantasy setting; the lion Aslan is sacrificed to save another from death and then resurrected by „the deep magic‟; other books in the „Narnia‟ series also explore Christian values.

Some missionary groups have begun using comics as media for spreading the Christian message using the idea is that comics have a universal appeal and will reach audiences who would otherwise reject the message

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Sex in the Media

Christians believe that sex is a gift from God, to be enjoyed within a committed relationship. Sex is often portrayed on television or in film in ways that go against this core value, or that promote controversy for Christians such as:

  • Pre-marital sex (sex before marriage)
  • Extra marital sex (a sexual relationship with someone other than the person you are actually married to) •
  • Prostitution
  • Homosexual relationships and marriage

These things may be presented as either positive or negative, but for some conservative Christians anything which could be seen as condoning sex outside marriage is wrong

Most Christians would find the use of sex as a sales tool (e.g. sexual images on advertising billboards) to be degrading 

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Violence in the Media

A large number of popular films and television programmes contain extreme violence  Anything that seems to glorify or encourage violence is likely to be condemned by Christians 

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Core Beliefs

It is hard to generalise about Christian attitudes to these issues as the technology is so modern and the sources of Christian belief pre-date it, However core Christian beliefs do establish general principles about what is and is not acceptable:

  • Agape: Christians believe in and promote love, and the valuing of other people so anything with devalues people or promotes division and hatred is likely to be disapproved of
  • The Temple of the Holy Spirit: Everyone has a soul, and everyone is made in the image of God. This means everyone is deserving of respect and appropriate treatment
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Censorship is when you prevent or restrict the publication or broadcast of something; usually on the grounds that it will prove distressing or offensive to some people

Censorship is also used by some governments to prevent new political ideas circulating

There is debate about how far censorship should be used 

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Methods of censorship in use in the UK

Advertising is regulated and controlled by the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority)

Journalists, newscasters, etc. are monitored by the Press Complaints Commission  

The Internet Watch Foundation attempts to monitor internet use and social networking sites are encouraged to maintain their own filters and monitoring policies

There are also security programmes for specific areas of concern on the internet such as NetNanny, CyberSitter and Childsafe.

The British Board of Film Certification gives any film released in this country a classification which informs potential viewers who the film is suitable for; these may also be applied to computer games

The majority of organisations either simply respond and take action when specific complaints are made or they provide information that enables people to self-censor and make decisions on what is suitable for themselves and their families

Freedom of the press is seen as a core value in the UK and there are very few things that are absolutely banned. Most images or materials that are illegal are related to ***********

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In support of Censorship

  • Material that is obscene or offensive should not be easily spread
  • Vulnerable people need to be protected from undue influence or exploitation
  • Exposure to film violence can lead to an increase in real life violence
  • Exposure to extreme violence in games and films desensitises people to the horror of real violence
  • Careful censorship can ensure balanced coverage of issues and prevent stereotyping
  • The internet is full of illegal sites and scams and without effective censorship they get away with it
  • Some forms of media, such as ***********, are so degrading that they should be banned completely 
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In support of Freedom

  • What some people find obscene or offensive is perfectly acceptable to other people
  • Mechanisms already exist to protect children and vulnerable people while still allowing the rest of us freedom of choice
  • The evidence on whether film violence leads to real violence is incomplete and inconclusive
  • People are desensitised anyway by the horrific images they see on the news
  • The knowledge that the images are not real stops people being desensitised
  • Censorship of the internet is extremely difficult and expensive
  • Censorship is often a feature of corrupt and oppressive governments and is a means of restricting human rights.
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Biblical teachings on media

You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people; nor shall you take a stand against the life of your neighbor . . . (Leviticus 19:16)

being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality . . . they are whisperers, BACKBITERS . . . (Romans 1:29 - 30)

You sit and speak against your brother; You slander your own mother's son. (Psalm 50:20)

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biblical teachings on sex (***********)

Matthew 5: 27  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’[e] 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

1 Corinthians 3:16  Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.

Ephesians 5:3  But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people

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