NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–As the culture continues to decay at Hollywood’s hands, Christian families can’t afford to stay “hunkered down in their bunker,” Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land said April 2.
Taking aim at those in the entertainment industry who he said prize profits above common decency, the president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission said Christian parents need to hold Hollywood accountable for their irresponsibility in polluting the nation’s airwaves.
“I am getting really tired of those in the media who are pimping violence, filth and sexuality and are prostituting themselves to the almighty dollar saying if parents don’t approve of what they are producing they just need to turn it off,” said Land, host of the daily radio program, For Faith & Family with Dr. Richard Land.
Children in America are being exposed to more violence and sexual degradation on television and in films than ever before, Land said. “We have to stop this electronic child abuse. We can’t just draw a circle around our families and think we are protected,” he continued.
While saying parents have an obligation to watch what their children are watching and doing, he insisted the entertainment industry should not have free reign to air this “electronic garbage” on the nation’s airwaves.
“Parents need to flush this stuff that Hollywood is dumping into your living rooms and then go after those who are trying to poison your children,” Land insisted. “This is not a First Amendment issue.
“Parents need to communicate with the networks and tell them if they can’t quit abusing the airwaves with this kind of filth, the government will take away your license to broadcast and give it to somebody who will,” Land said.
Citing a study published in the April 2002 issue of Science that ties television viewing to aggressive behavior by adolescents, Land said the 17-year longitudinal study revealed a “terrifying link” between television watching and higher than normal incidences of assaults, fights, robberies and other aggressive behavior in later years. The study reported over 45 percent of boys who watched more than three hours of television a day committed aggressive acts; for teenage boys watching one to three hours, 32.5 percent engaged in violent behavior.
The author of the study, Jeffrey G. Johnson, a Columbia University psychiatric epidemiologist who studies human behavior patterns, urged parents to limit their children’s television viewing to no more than one hour per day.
While earlier studies by the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association drew a connection between violent programming and aggressive behavior, Johnson’s study did not differentiate between types of programming being watched.
An average hour of television portrays three to five violent acts according to the American Psychological Association. In August 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics encouraged parents not to allow children under two years old to watch television. The academy also said televisions and computers should not be placed in children’s rooms.
Land said The Shield, a new program on the FX cable network, is evidence of what happens when parents sit back and let Hollywood rip away at the nation’s moral fiber. Citing reports from the Parents Television Council (www.parentstv.org), he said the program, which first aired in March, features profane and obscene language, nudity and sexual situations.
“This is not a show offered on premium cable,” Land said. “Since this program is airing on many basic cable systems, it is readily available for any member of your family to view.” According to the FX web site, the cable channel is Fox Network’s general entertainment basic cable network and is carried in almost 76 million homes.
These companies have no moral compass of their own, Land said. “The entertainment industry is just like the nefarious, criminal tobacco companies who are trying to market their cigarettes and tobacco products to children because they are killing 400,000 customers a year. They have to replace their customer base so they target kids to get them addicted.
“Television networks and movie producers are churning out R-rated features and spending millions of dollars marketing them to 12, 13, and 14-year-olds,” he continued.
“We cannot allow our children’s morals to be corrupted and corroded by the entertainment industry,” Land said, noting it is not only children who are at risk.
“Many adults think they can go to R-rated movies and watch TV programs such as The Shield or NYPD Blue and handle the sexuality and violence,” Land said.
Be careful, he warned. “King David was a man after God’s own heart, yet he couldn’t handle seeing a woman bathing.
“Be careful about what you expose yourself to,” Land said, noting that David’s chance sighting of Bathsheba resulted in lust of the eye which led to lust of the flesh which culminated in conspiracy to commit murder.
He encouraged Christians to consider seriously the wisdom of having those kinds of imprints on their minds.
Land said the ERLC is producing a resource kit that focuses on the entertainment culture’s impact on the family. “Parents and church leaders alike need to be aware that our families and our biblical standards are being targeted. The entertainment industry worships at the altar of the almighty dollar. They will keep pumping out this moral filth as long we stand by and let them.”
For more information on the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s resource kit on entertainment and the popular culture, which features Holly McClure’s book, Death By Entertainment: Exposing Hollywood’s Seductive Power Over You and Your Family, contact the ERLC at (800) 475-9127 or by e-mail to AskDrLand@erlc.com.