Religion and Broadcasting – Andrew Graystone #MediaLit11

Bible Gateway passage: Mark 16:15 – New International Version, demonstrated how there was a need (in the past, but also in the present) to use radio to preach the gospel (if the Gospel could be told to all, Jesus would return sooner).

Since 1992 45% of the US population has watched at least 1 hour of religious TV per month, over 50% Christian radio. Much bigger than in the UK. What do we mean when we say “Christian” – more of a commercial label than anything else…

In the UK: Premier Radio;  UCB; God TV; Revelation TV; KICC.

The internet is publicly funded, so it’ more likely to go down a commercial route than a BBC route. Andrew gave us an overview of stats of how the style of Christian media has developed, and where the monies come from.

UCB unique model, take money from donations from Word for Today, which means they can be advertising free, and therefore not too restricted on what they broadcast by sponsors.

A tweet from @drbexl re: visiting one of the sights and being faced with a large ‘donate’ button immediately,   brought in a response from @timbald. Why do Christians object to such requests for funding so much. A number of responses online/in the group:

  • It’s the wrong way round – the gospel should come before any request for money.
  • It’s the BIGGEST thing on there… asking for money before people have engaged with content & reinforces what others think
  • The ‘donate’ button can fit too well with the ‘prosperity gospel’ (if you give, you will get a return 100-fold/be healed, etc)
  • There can be spiritual emotional blackmail involved… and then there are the Republican party donations…
  • What about funding Christian creatives. No issue with that, but the pushiness and associated theology is problematic.
  • The Gospel we celebrate is that God’s love comes first. Our response (donation?) is secondary. Our comms. should reflect this

UK evangelicalism aligned with political left, whilst US with the political right.

There’s debates re: whether having a communion on the radio is a valid Eucharist, with the same debates being revisited for the internet. Does it make worship a ‘spectator sport’ or a ‘shop window’?

Christian TV/Radio tends to broadcast ‘to the faithful’. Is there a place for this, or should we be encouraging more mainstream engagement? Is it more holy to listen to Christian radio than e.g. Radio 4. What is our space… John Stott = double listening: listening to the world and the Word.  Can think you of good Christian TV/Radio, do they make GOOD radio/TV in their own right also.

We watched a little Island Parish, then ‘Can the bible and Darwin both be right?’ on BBC The Big Questions.

Christians on TV

  • The Nativity at Christmas
  • Rev
  • Vicar of Dibley
  • Agent Booth in Bones
  • Vicar in Dad’s Army7
  • Most recent Poirot
  • Father Ted
  • Peter Owen-Jones
  • Songs of Praise
  • Simpsons
  • Dot Cotton

Broadcasting by the widest audience. Narrowcasting by the specific/niche audience.

It can be confusing as to whether producing content or entertainment?

Debate: Christianity is well represented in contemporary TV & Radio


  • It underlies the moral worldview of many programmes on TV
  • The Simpsons is one the best representations of Christianity around.
  • What else do I miss?


  • Is it numbers or quality? We haven’t really got past the comedy portrayals, the non-Christian presenters, the mad murderers, etc.
  • Does it represent the range of Christian viewpoints?
  • Andrew: ‘Freaks, Geeks & Antiques’
  • Christianity is a dirty word, so not pushed much…  unlike other faiths? Prejudiced against Christianity? It’s OK to proselytise towards a secular viewpoint. There’s a perception the Christian faith ‘can take it’.
  • Programmes are slowly disappearing, one programme at a time chipped away.


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