How Christianity Lost Its Voice in Today’s Media Driven World
by Phil Cooke, Ph.D.
Historians can keep arguing about whether or not America was founded as a “Christian” country, but one thing is for sure: For most of this country’s history, Christianity has been the dominate cultural force. From the engine behind social service outreaches, to the founding of our greatest educational institutions and hospitals, to prayers before government sessions and sporting events, the Christian faith has made an indelible mark on our society — at least until recently.
Today that voice is in decline. Although a 2012 Pew Forum Study indicated that 73 percent of Americans still identify themselves as “Christian,” that number would drop dramatically when it comes to significant areas of influence such as the media, academia, business, entertainment and more.
In my new book, “Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media,” I point out that Christianity has always had a love/hate relationship with the culture — particularly the media. Historically, innovation and technology has more likely been perceived as a threat than friend. The Catholic Church rose up against the specter of the printing press, fearing the common man’s ability to read the Bible for himself would undermine the Church’s authority. As a result, William Tyndale spent most of his adult life running from the authorities, living among smugglers, and eventually being martyred, all for the “crime” of translating the Word of God into English.
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Since that time, the Church has learned some important lessons. By 1833 the largest publisher in America, Harper and Company, boasted one horse-powered printing press and seven hand presses. But at the same time, the American Bible Society owned 16 new steam driven presses and 20 hand presses.
Early in the 20th century, the Church embraced motion pictures, radio, then television and now the Internet and social media. But in the vast majority of cases, we’re not using those platforms to engage the greater culture, we’re living inside a bubble. After all, why tweet, when you can join “Christian Chirp,” the “Christian alternative to Twitter.” And don’t go to eHarmony or Match.com if you’re looking for a Christian mate, use “Christian Mingle.” From the web, to publishing, to record labels, TV networks, universities and more, the last 50 years have seen a remarkable withdrawal from mainstream culture and a move back to a cloistered, protective bubble.
In all honesty, the Church isn’t losing it’s voice, it’s giving it away…
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