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Patterson, ERLC endorse report on music’s impact on youth violence

WASHINGTON (BP)–The Southern Baptist Convention’s president and its ethics agency have endorsed a recently released report that says some popular music contributes to youth violence.
Paige Patterson, elected in June to a second year as SBC president, and the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission signed onto the 13-page document, which asserts some heavy-metal rock music, as well as some rap music, “dwells on, romanticizes, stylizes, beautifies, consecrates, divinizes and celebrates violence. The results are predictable.” While the music industry so far has “denied any role in the current cultural crisis,” the evidence shows some music leads some young people to violent actions, the report says.
The report, “There Is a Virus Loose Within Our Culture: An Honest Look at Music’s Impact,” was released about three months after two teenagers went on a shooting rampage at a Littleton, Colo., high school, killing 12 students and a teacher before committing suicide. It was the latest and worst in a series of shootings at school functions in recent years in the United States.
Common to the Colorado shootings and at least three others, according to the report, was a fascination by the killers with Marilyn Manson, a shock-rock singer whose lyrical themes include hatred, revenge, shooting and death. Manson has been ordained in the Church of Satan, according to the report.
The report, produced by the Washington-based Free Congress Foundation, acknowledges the examination of the influence of television, movies and video games on youth violence is appropriate but cites medical experts who assert music has at least as powerful an impact on young people as the visual media. The heavily footnoted document says negative or harmful messages, including the promotion of violence and drug use, “though once the exception, are now the rule.”
The report “absolutely demolishes the music industry’s claim that music stops affecting its consumers after the sale is made,” said its author, Thomas Jipping, director of Free Congress’ Center for Law and Democracy. “Popular music is the single most influential factor for many young people, and intuition, experience and research shows [sic] this is an issue of potential harm, not just an issue of taste.”
It does not recommend any policy proposals or strategies to deal with the problem but provides a “factual basis for whatever approach concerned parents and citizens wish to puruse to help America’s youth,” Jipping said in a written release.
In addition to Patterson, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and the ERLC, former SBC President Adrian Rogers also endorsed the report. Rogers is pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in suburban Memphis, Tenn.
At its annual meeting in June, the SBC adopted a resolution encouraging Southern Baptists to be discerning in their consumption of entertainment. It also called for legislation restricting the “availability of sexually explicit or violent material” and making lyrics available in music stores for parental review.
Among other endorsers were six U.S. senators, including Jesse Helms, R.-N.C., and Kay Bailey Hutchison, R.-Texas; 10 U.S. representatives, including Tom DeLay, R.-Texas, Ralph Hall, D.-Texas, and Steve Largent, R.-Okla.; Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; and former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese.
Religious leaders signing onto the report, which was released July 8, included Jerry Falwell; National Religious Broadcasters President Brandt Gustavson; Presbyterian pastor D. James Kennedy; rabbi Daniel Lapin, president of Toward Tradition; and Cardinal O’Connor of New York.
Of the 200-plus organizations endorsing the report were the Parents’ Music Resource Center, American Family Association, Christian Coalition, Concerned Women for America, Eagle Forum, Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, Morality in Media, National Association of Evangelicals, Organized Victims of Violent Crime and Parents Television Council.
Tipper Gore, wife of Vice President Al Gore, was a founder of the Parents’ Music Resource Center in 1985, but she left the organization when her husband campaigned for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination.