I realize that this pronouncement sounds pessimistic. Perhaps it is, at least a little. All the kerfuffle around Phil Robertson has definitely brought out the best and worst of us. Evangelicals have united. The Left and their homosexual allies have likewise banded together to fabricate a few little tidbits of information intended to spur some action from their base. In all of this there is another concern.
Who are we Christians? What demographics comprise our population? We know that there are as many evangelical intellectuals and academics, businessmen and women, and successful people within our ranks as there are in any other demographic. These things are not new to us. But outside of our ranks few know who we are. At least they do not know these things directly. They depend upon news and information sources to give an accurate description of this fringe group.
It was not that long ago, just a little more than two decades, that the Washington Post published an editorial which declared Christians “largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command.” Michael Weisskopf got his name in lights for that one. Michael Kinsley followed that, in 2005, with the misquoting phrase “poor, undereducated and easily led” to describe the “Christian right” which he equated with evangelical Christianity in general.
But today, unlike 1993, few read newspapers. Our sources are television and online material. The images presented are controlled and managed. The viewers see only one image. They do not see our academics. They see either simple people or angry people. Fred Phelps has become the icon of the news media. He is used to represent the fundamentalist response to cultural sin. He has the moniker “Baptist” after all.
And who can resist a good Bible quiz? The connection seems basic – you might be a redneck if you know something about the Bible.
Then there is Ned Flanders and his cheesy moustache from the 80s. He is out of touch with this (late) wife and children. With a little philandering on the side his reputation is secure in the minds of viewers.
A&E has succeeded in picturing a simple family as something out of the mainstream. It is the new stereotype. Christians are seen even further from reality.
These shows, after all, come out of cities where the evangelical contingent is often five percent or less. (Sure, it may be fifty percent or higher in rural areas, but those areas do not produce television programs.) As a consequence they have no frame of reference for describing Christians accurately. All they have is a liberal education which says that Christianity is the worst thing to happen to the world. Christianity has supposedly been the cause of wars, the expansion of slavery and colonialism, and the enemy of knowledge and science. Why wouldn’t any sensible person oppose such an evil worldview?
They have their image and they have run with it.
So maybe A&E has succeeded in reinforcing this opinion. Profit and loss are important things even to liberal organizations. But sometimes worldview trumps profit. Why else would Microsoft continue to pour money into a losing venture like MSNBC?
Then again, maybe A&E really is on the losing end.
The reaction of Christians may have gotten a response from A&E but at what expense? How will the left and homosexual crown spin this? They have a monstrous PR machine. But as happened in ancient Rome sometimes the truth can win over the machine.
There was a time when the Roman machine declared that Christians were cannibals and sexual hedonists. This happened because the Roman critics did not understand the love feasts and communion meals shared by Christians. Fabricated stories and the resulting persecutions were the result. Today’s fabrications are roughly equivalent. The supposedly scientific world remains bent on creating a new myth. The truth of Christ in our behavior will again defeat the myth. Be positive, be Christian.