Christian Fundamentalists and the Evil Television Set

by Charles S. Oaxpatu

A couple of days ago, I wrote a brief blog article asking readers and visitors to submit any questions they might have about Christian Fundamentalism, Conservative Evangelicalism, or any other thing they might have on their minds. One of our regular readers asked a question. Here is that question:

One thing I’d like to know about televangelists (and I don’t know if I’ve asked this of you before): why do some televangelists say that television is immorality and sin (and that irrelevant of content, meaning that B/W classics are as immoral/sinful as today’s extreme sexual and violent content, for instance), notwithstanding that televangelists are using the very same medium they call a sin to call it a sin (i.e. preaching against television, on television)?

Answer:

This is an excellent question, and I could probably write all day about it. However, a member of my nuclear family needs to use the family PC from 5:00 p.m. EDT until midnight, so I must answer quickly and straight to the point of the question.

Christian Fundamentalists and Conservative Evangelicals definitely have a problem with television. Conservative Evangelicals, such as the members of Southern Baptist Convention churches, are not particularly against the home television set or the electronic medium of television.  They are just against the content of some television programs. As I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, I did not know any Southern Baptist families that did not own and watch shows on television. I suspect that is still true today. They just object to the content of certain television programs that contain what they define as sinful portrayals that do not honor God. Many of them refuse to let their children see programs with this sinful content, and the parents also refuse to watch such programs.

The hard-boiled, hard-shelled Christian fundamentalists, such as the members of Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) churches, are the ones who have a huge beef with both the television set and the content of television programming. If you doubt that, please take a close look at the following church sermon—and while you are at it—notice the typical fundie disrespect for girls and women:

How many of you kind readers and visitors have threatened the lives of your wives and daughters with an ax? Is it any wonder they love President Donald J. Trump so very much? But I digress—so we go back to our main subject—where I will digress again.

The fundie preacher in the video clip blames the content of various “sinful” television shows for the destruction of the American family and the warping of minds toward being friendly with sin. His answer is to get rid of the television set in fundie homes so fundies will no longer be able to watch a television show that they regard as sinful or mind-warping. Here is where we digress again. This is the same thing they thought about alcoholic beverages in the early 20th century. Prohibit the manufacturing and sale of alcoholic beverages in the United States, and the American home and American society will be all the better for it. I suspect most fundies still believe in that today. Those of you who know American history are familiar with how bad prohibition turned out to be before it was finally repealed. If banning whisky and television sets is so near and dear to their hearts, you really have to wonder why so many fundies are against banning assault rifles?

By the 1950s, many Americans had a television set in their homes. Christian evangelists, particularly the Christian Fundamentalist and Conservative Evangelical ones, quickly hailed the potential for television to be one of the greatest evangelistic devices ever invented in all of human history. They jumped on it, like kids jumped on their first personal computer, and sought to be masters of the television medium for the purpose of broadcasting sermons, delivering religious music, and saving souls. Today fundies still decry what they view as sinful television programming. However, they also know that nearly all hopelessly lost sinners (any person who is not a fundie) own a television set and watch it regularly. They see their own religious programming on television as a way to get the fundie message out to all of those evil, hopelessly lost sinners who watch TV—you know the kind: serial killers, Presbyterians, pedophiles, United Methodists, murderers, Quakers, thieves, and Roman Catholics, etc. So, in their minds, fundie religious programming  on TV is A-Okay. No vile sinner will ever take an ax to his own TV set, and the fundies see that as their greatest opportunity to reach him or her with the fundie message.

What is the greatest fundie message that travels out to the television sets of vile sinners? Well, the fundies would no doubt say that their biggest message concerns the famous and all important Fundie Salvation Benefits Package, which is way up there alongside your corporate benefits package at your place of work. To get this package of benefits, all you have to do is briefly bow your head, say a few right words in prayer—-and then flip the old fundie middle finger at Jesus—because hey—the most important thing is getting saved from Hell—so just forget all that stuff about following and emulating Jesus in your daily life. Oh Sure!!!  The fundies give plenty of lip service to following Jesus like that in their daily lives, but do most of them really do it as a matter of personal action? I have to wonder about that! If they were following and emulating Jesus in their daily lives, then how on Earth could they gift us with President Donald J. “Bait of Satan” Trump? The cognitive dissonance between their lip service and their actions is enormous!

Many other fundie messages travel out to American television sets, like the one from that guy down in Texas:

I need you to plant just one little $58 seed.

If you would like to know more about the other fundie television messages that travel to your TV set, you may sample some of them by watching the following incredibly funny, highly detailed, and thoroughly enlightening look at such fundie messaging:

 

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1 Response to Christian Fundamentalists and the Evil Television Set

  1. Ben Masters says:

    Excellent response to what I asked! The reason why I asked it is because (and you probably don’t know this) I hit my head really hard on a doorframe in my house in 2010 (that while I was watching a DVD of Get Smart [that hit late 60s NBC/CBS comedy w/the late Don Adams]); I went to get my mother’s phone so I could have it with me in case she called, and as I was going back, I hit my head really hard on that doorframe. It hurt really bad, but what was to happen would hurt worse. Every time I tried to watch anything that I would ordinarily enjoy on DVD (no matter the content), I would hear “Immoral!” in my head (this applied to B/W classics like The Fugitive, and old sports content from my youth [like the 1985 Chicago Bears 12 Greatest Games]). Basically, if it was entertaining, that voice would rear its head.

    The voice also sounded like a televangelist my mother listens to (one Ralph Sexton, Jr. of Trinity Baptist Church in Asheville, NC; ever heard of him?). Ralph is very much about the end times and last days and tribulation and Rapture, which is fine if that’s what he believes in (he’s preaching God the way he sees Him), but my autistic mind (yes, I am autistic) takes it as law that I must obey, at the risk of being called an unbeliever. Whenever he would talk about television and entertainment, I assumed that he meant every single thing that has ever been on, and my autistic mind took that as a law too.

    In short, thanks for taking the time to answer here, and to explain the difference between Southern Baptists and hard-shell fundies on this issue. My sister in Alabama went to a Southern Baptist church when I was down there once (it was named Locust Grove) that was a breath of fresh air, because they didn’t say anything about the issue, or about the end times/last days, or even the KJV (I had a NASB, and they hardly made a peep about it). She goes to a Methodist church now that is similarly a breath of fresh air, and such is one reason why I enjoy going for stays at her house in the town of Grant, AL.

    Thanks again!

    Like

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