28 Feb Does the Media Reflect Your Christian Experience?
A few weeks ago, I attended a panel debate on the place of God in government. Faith and media leaders and influencers, including a noble Lord, also argued whether our Parliamentary MPs should possess a good level of religious knowledge to inform their decision making.
There is no doubt such a conversation is both fascinating and necessary. Yet, I confess the panel and audience’s comments did not seem to reflect my own Christian experience and culture. Since then, I have been asking why this might be so.
Tim Keller says in his book, ‘The Reason for God’, there is a decline in ‘inherited’ religion; faith passed on from parents to their children. He goes onto say that mainstream churches have seen a sharp fall in numbers attending church. This same decline was also raised during the panel debate. But, Keller went onto to stress that there has been significant growth in ‘chosen’ faith, when young people and adults make a conscious decision to follow Jesus Christ.
Examples of this growth are found in the developing world. Korea has gone from 1 per cent to 40 per cent Christian in one hundred years, and experts believe the same will happen in China which would change the course of human history. This growth is not the wafer thin, more secularised versions of Christianity predicted by sociologists. Rather, it is a robust supernatural faith with belief in miracles, Biblical authority and personal conversion. My church community, and many church communities across the UK, would certainly relate to this living faith, where lives are being freed from addictions; relationships reconciled; genuine hope restored where, perhaps, none existed before. Yet, these good news stories are rarely reported in the media.
So, to return to the panel discussion, should we expect our MPs to possess a religious knowledge that informs their thinking? Should God play any part in Government? Influential US thinkers, John Rawls and Robert Audi suggest that we may not argue for a moral position unless it has a secular, non-religious grounding. In short, religious views should be excluded from public discourse. However, Stephen L Carter responds that it is impossible to leave religious views behind when we do any kind of moral reasoning.
To argue that religious beliefs and reasoning should be left at the door of the House of Parliament is, to my mind, assuming a highly moralistic position. A religious faith may be personal, but is certainly not private when it inspires and motivates our very actions and words. When members of my church community go to their place of work on Monday morning, do they leave their faith at home? Do they leave their moral conscience at the school gate or the hospital car park?
Christian faith is not a temporary thing that helped us adapt to our environment. Rather it is a permanent and central aspect of the human condition. At the MediaNet, we long to see more Christians called to serve God in the media; to be salt and light; to be influential; to share true, authentic stories of transformed lives.
Let me ask you two simple questions. Is your Christian environment and culture properly reflected in the media? If not, how can we change the media agenda? I would love to hear your thoughts and your story.
Written by Steve Cox, Chair of the Church and Media Network. Follow Steve on Twitter at @coxee