Christianity and the Mass Media in America: Toward a by Quentin J. Schultze

By Quentin J. Schultze

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Clever tribal leaders can use rhetorics of exile to build tribal cohesion and to enhance their own standing in the tribe, but they rarely are able to leverage exilic rhetoric outside of the tribe as part of a broadly appealing public philosophy. ”78 Strangely enough, the biggest threat to such tribal cultures in exile might be their willingness to sell their own traditional culture in the broader marketplace in order to earn a voice that the mainstream culture 34 Quentin J. Schultze will find attractive and persuasive.

Mainstream news media historically ignored religion unless it was directly related to events that were politically or economically newsworthy. Similarly, network television, arguably the major American storyteller of the 1950s through the 1990s, only occasionally paid attention to Christianity. Christian individuals consumed large quantities of mainstream media, but mainstream media were interested primarily in garnering heterogeneous audiences for advertisers, not in addressing the specialized interests of religious groups.

Many Christian tribes were similarly unconvinced of the sublimity of the new media; their rhetoric of discernment led them away from mainstream culture and into cultural exile. Some of the more liberal groups attacked the media for their commercialism and for their unwillingness to give public voices to the poor and alienated in society. Serving a prophetic role, these salvos from mainstream Roman Catholic and Protestant tribes often echoed the concerns of nonreligious groups in society. Occasionally mainline Christian churches and denominations directly entered public discussion about the media, especially in matters of governmental regulation of the broadcast industry.

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