- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 1, 2003

Christians are a devoted TV and radio audience with some very pronounced viewpoints, two new studies reveal.
"A greater number of adults experience the Christian faith through the Christian media, such as radio, television or books, than attend Christian services," the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) announced this week.
The NRB categorizes this as a "wake-up call" for churches and producers alike, noting that while 132 million adults attended church last month, 141 million used some form of Christian media.
While this outreach activity helps the public focus "on things that matter," noted poll director George Barna, it won't get far without a supportive community. "The people factor must always be incorporated if Christianity is to be an expression of God's intent."
The 1,700-member, Manassas-based NRB does not soft-pedal its mission, which "represents the Christian broadcaster's right to communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world." Members sign a statement of faith as well as a code of ethics based on biblical standards.
According to the NRB, 52 percent of the nation's adults listened to Christian music or other programming on the radio, while 43 percent watched Christian TV programming. Among evangelical Christians, 96 percent counted themselves in the regular Christian TV or radio audience. The survey also found that 25 percent of people who describe themselves as atheists, agnostic or non-Christians "had some degree of exposure to Christianity through the media." The survey of 1,010 adults was conducted by the California-based Barna Research Group in mid-April.
Meanwhile, Coral Ridge Ministries (CRM) has found that evangelicals have a "profound distrust" of television, radio and the press in general. The Florida-based group which has produced Christian radio and TV programming since 1974 revealed in its annual Spiritual State of the Nation Survey that 93 percent of the respondents "do not trust the media."
More than 37,000 people participated in the write-in survey, which CRM categorizes as a "snapshot of evangelical opinion," rather than "scientific" analysis.
"While evangelicals number, according to Gallup, 46 percent of the American populace, they are barely a blip on the radar of American's political and cultural elite," said CRM President D. James Kennedy.
"There is a cultural divide between pro-family Americans on one side and media and political elites on the other. Too often, the two sides peer at each other across the chasm with misgivings and misunderstandings," Mr. Kennedy said.
The survey also found that 91 percent felt the "national media" was biased in reporting Christian, moral or religious issues and 91 percent said the news media "presented anti-Christian programming under the guise of 'objectivity' and 'journalism.'"
Ninety-one percent supported efforts to persuade advertisers and TV networks to clean up "trash TV" and offer more family-friendly programming.
Three years ago, CRM took on ABC News after the network aired "The Search for Jesus," a two-hour special that CRM said used "fringe theories as mainstream scholarship" to dismiss New Testament claims about Christ.
"I want to keep my own faith out of this, because it's not relevant to the broadcast," host Peter Jennings told Beliefnet (www.beliefnet.com), an online religious source, after the show aired in 2000. "I'm a practicing Christian, and that's about as far as I want to go with it, because I would not want people to think that somehow I brought my own notion of faith or spirituality to bear on it."
CRM countered with "Who Is This Jesus?" which answered the ABC production point by point, and was viewed by 12 million people.



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