Television and Religion: The Shaping of Faith, Values, and Culture

Bill Fore, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1987, 208 pages, $11.95, paper.

Reviewed by Victor Cooper, Communication Department, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

Television has usurped the role of the church in our society. It expresses our cultural essence and shapes our value systems, claims William Fore, assistant general secretary for communication at the National Council of Churches. He is also president of the World Association for Christian Communication.

"Deregulation of broadcasting is pernicious," he says, and "strikes at the heart of the democratic ideals of wide-ranging and robust discussion, of protection of the rights of minority views, of a genuine freedom of information."

Fore calls on us to respond to violence, censorship, and media regulation and protest the global implications of American media policies.

Community and church groups can encourage excellence by recognizing and giving awards to creative writers, directors, producers, sponsors, and others who provide programs that uplift ethical values and humane relationships. Local groups can monitor programming and pressure the media with research findings that show the causal relationship be tween the viewing of violence and subsequent aggressive behavior. Stockholders can influence companies advertising on television to "call the attention of the officers and directors to the importance of adopting voluntary guidelines which would forbid sponsorship of programs with exploitative sex and gratuitous violence."

Fore also sees a need for more drastic action such as consumer boycotts and petitions to deny license renewal. Though he recognizes that consumer boycotts may backfire.

The author recommends churches use "narrowcasting" techniques--cable, videocassette, and direct mail. Fore fears censorship as media programs deteriorate, and calls for laws that will create incentives to reduce violence. He suggests a statute requiring the availability of children's programs in every community.

Fore would like to see the FCC act in the interests of the community rather than the broadcasting industry. He wants application of political and economic pressures, but recognizes that such action will require the strength of Sam son and the wisdom of Solomon.

A realist, Fore recognizes problems in side both the industry and the church. But his readers are left wondering whether a sizable segment of concerned citizens can be galvanized for the kind of community action and educational pro grams that are needed.

Fore might have suggested that Christians are obligated to denounce injustice if they are energized by the teachings of the prophets and of Jesus Christ. Or has lethargy cast a spell on the churches and rocked them into sleepy silence while wide-awake media moguls increase in power?

Discerning pastors will alert their congregations to the contents of this stimulating book

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Reviewed by Victor Cooper, Communication Department, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

September 1988

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