Thursday, December 14, 2006

Entertainment Industry Hostile to People of Faith

PTC Study Finds Religious Content on TV Shown Less Frequently and More Negatively

The Parents Television Council revealed in a new study that religious content on television is shown less frequently and more negatively on television. The new study, "Faith in a Box 2005-2006," is a review of how religion is portrayed on prime time broadcast television.

"The results of this study clearly show that the entertainment industry is not reflecting the strong religious beliefs of Americans in its television programming. The industry is in fact hostile to people of faith -- no matter if the person is Christian, Jewish, or Muslim," said L. Brent Bozell, president of the PTC. "

The evidence is clear: On CBS' Two and a Half Men, Charlie Sheen's character uses the melody of 'Joy to the World' to sing 'Joy to the Word, I'm getting laid.' Fox's The Family Guy proved to be especially sacrilegious and vile when it showed God in bed with a woman. These examples, and others, show that Hollywood has a clear distaste for religion." According to a recent Zogby/American Bible Society poll, 84% of adults are not offended when they hear references to God or the Bible on network television shows, and 51% say entertainment networks should develop shows with positive messages -- and even specifically refer to God and the Bible. "

The irony is that reality shows such as Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and The Amazing Race, where real characters freely express themselves, faith and religion are positively portrayed. But in scripted shows, where Hollywood writers express their worldviews, faith and religion become four letter words -- to the tune of 95.5% negative portrayals. This is an industry that is completely out of touch with reality," Bozell continued.

In this seventh PTC study examining the treatment of religious content on television, an entire year of prime-time broadcast programming was analyzed. The PTC examined a total of 2,271.5 hours of programming containing 1,425 treatments of religion.

Major findings:

Religion is shown less than in past years - There were half as many portrayals of religion in 2005-2006 (1,425) as in 2003-2004 (2,344).

Religion is portrayed more negatively - In 2005-2006, there were more negative depictions of religion than positive ones (35% to 34%).
Depictions of aspects affiliated with organized religion (clergy, doctrine or laity) were mostly negative.

Reality shows are more positive towards religion - The format of the program was a significant factor in the portrayal which religion received. A majority (57.8%) of the positive portrayals of religion were to be found on reality programs. By contrast, an overwhelming percentage (95.5%) of the negative portrayals of religion came from such Hollywood-scripted drama and comedy programs; only 4.5% of negative portrayals of religion were found on reality shows.

Fox was by far the most anti-religious network - One in every two (49.3%) portrayals of religion on the Fox network was negative. Long-time champion NBC came in second in negative depictions of religion, with well over a third (39.3%) of such portrayals being negative. Among other networks, over a third (35.4%) of depictions of religion on UPN was also negative. ABC registered 30.4% and CBS 29% negative portrayals. The WB network featured the fewest negative depictions of religion (21%).

Later hours of prime time are more negative towards religion - The number of negative portrayals increased steadily with each hour of prime-time. Negative treatments constituted 31.9 % of all treatments in the 8 pm hour, 33.9 % in the 9 pm hour and 44.4% in the 10 pm hour. At no time during prime time, and on no network did the positive portrayal of religion even hit the 50% mark.

Laypersons -- non-clerical individuals who profess religious faith -- were treated most negatively by entertainment programs - Over half (50.8%) of all entertainment television's depictions of laity were negative. Only 26% were positive.

Portrayal of religious institutions were critical - Close behind in negative portrayal were religious institutions (such as particular denominations, specific religious beliefs or direct references to Scripture), nearly half (47.6%) of which were negative. By contrast, only 18% of depictions of religious institutions were positive.

Clergy shown in a negative light - Prime-time television's portrayal of clergy was also heavily weighted, with less than a third (30.4%) of depictions of and references to clergy being positive, and another two-thirds being negative or ambiguous.

Simple religious faith shown positively - Only in depictions of religious faith -- showing individuals making a simple declaration of belief in God or a higher power, or praying -- was television's portrayal of religion largely positive. Over two-thirds (69.6%) of such portrayals were positive, with less than one-sixth (14.7%) being negative.

"This study clearly documents the complete disconnect between Hollywood's attitude toward religion and that of the American public," Bozell concluded.

To read the full study, "Faith in a Box 2005-2006," Click Here.


Faultline USA said...

Thank you for reporting what the Parents Television Council revealed. This confirms what most of us suspected. The disconnect between Hollywood's attitude and the American public is similar to the disconnect between our elected officials and the American public. It’s Goodbye American Middle Class unless we all fight back and let the networks know we mean business!

Adam said...

Interesting study, but I'm not sure too many conclusions should be drawn. Scripted comedy, especially that on late at night, portrays *everything* in a negative light. They should add a blind study, where they compare positive and negative references to something like 'cheese' and see how it compares to references about religion.

Christinewjc said...

Well said Faultline!

So far, I haven't heard of anyone from the Republican Party who represents my values and opinions as a Christian Conservative. Mitt Romney is trying to masquerade as "one of us" but with all that I have read about him...he'd be one of the worst choices!

Personally, I think that Newt Gingrich would make a great conservative President-elect choice. However, I know that he would be considered a "polarizing" individual by many on the left. But I think that is exactly what we need! The so-called "centrist" Republicans are steeped in moral relativism and do not represent what I believe America should be as a Bible-believing Christian.

You are absolutely correct when you stated that there is a "disconnect between our elected officials and the American public." The mid-term elections proved that. I sincerely hope that the "blue-dog" Democrats will stand up for the unborn and pro-life issues, as well as support traditional marriage between a man and a woman. We will just have to see...

Christinewjc said...

Hi Adam,

Welcome to Talkwisdom!

I will have to disagree with you regarding your late night comedy remark. There are some topics off limits (like mocking gays or Muslims); yet, Christians can be mocked without much of an outcry anymore.

Rosie O'Donnell got away with it on The View. She never apologized, either. But it was a different story when she mocked Chinese people. The backlash forced her to apologize.

Why wasn't she compelled to apologize for her anti-Christian remarks? Because it's OK to debase and mock Christians.

You said, "They should add a blind study, where they compare positive and negative references to something like 'cheese' and see how it compares to references about religion."

I think that your idea is not meant to be considered a genuine one. But it could be deemed a "humorous?" response by those who typically mock anyone of the Christian religion (who, in fact, take their faith quite seriously)in the first place.

limpy99 said...

The obvious solution would be to stop watching such programs as "Family Guy" and "2.5 Men". Networks won't keep putting programs out of they don't draw an audience and therefore $$$$.