There are presently 35 television stations owned and operated by religious organizations, but every television station features religious programming in one way or another (Postman, 116). Religious television program producers are driven by the desire to make money, and they find the best way to accomplish this is by scamming viewers and members. During this process, religion loses its authenticity. Religion is not being practiced on television, it is being mocked. Religion is no longer for worship, but for entertainment.
Moneymaking scams are becoming very popular in recent years. One would like to believe some things in life are sacred. Religion is where billions of people invest their hopes, dreams, beliefs, and most importantly, money. The greedy, selfish, minds of our world see this not as a way to fix problems, but as a way to make money. “Television,” Billy Graham has written, “is the most powerful tool of communication ever devised by man. Each of my prime time ‘specials’ is now carried by nearly 300 stations across the U.S. and Canada, so that in a single telecast I preach to millions more than Christ did in his lifetime.” (Postman, 118). Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” sets forth the notion that religion is a bad thing, and that it only leads to problems.
“But if you know about God, why don’t you tell them?”
asked the Savage indignantly. “Why don’t you give them
these books about God?”
“For the same reason as we don’t give them Othello:
they’re old; they’re about God hundreds of years ago. Not
about God now.”
“But God doesn’t change.”
“Men do, though.”
“What difference does that make?”
“All the difference in the world,” said Mustapha Mond. (Huxley, 229)
On these religious shows, people are shown with obvious handicaps such as paralyzed limbs, or walking handicaps. They join these religious clubs, or are shown on television speaking with these “electronic preachers” as they are called, and they let Jesus into their hearts. All of a sudden they are miraculously cured and can live their life in harmony. Still paying their monthly fees of course to stay this way. One of the most successful and popular religious programs and organizations is Pat Robertson’s “700 Club” which you can belong to by paying fifteen dollars a month (of course you can watch at home for free assuming you have cable television) (Postman, 114). In one episode, a woman is shown filled with anxiety because she is forced to stay at home and staying at home makes her nervous. She begins to feel even her own children are trying to kill her. She is shown then searching television for an answer. She stumbles upon the “700 Club” and becomes interested in its message. She allows Jesus into her heart and is saved. She has now become two things, a television star, and closer to Jesus. “To the uninitiated, it is not entirely clear to which is the higher estate.” (Postman, 115). Meanwhile, the untrained viewer sees this and becomes attracted. No one is saved, money is made by the producers, and wasted by the viewers. In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, there is no money. You are given privileges based on how you are born. There is also no religion. Without money or religion, all of these problems would have been avoided. Although the story of the suffering woman was no more than a well played act, this does happen in real life. However in the Brave New World society you are not given the chance to be sad. You are forced to be happy and are not given time or the will power to think on your own. As a child, you are conditioned to like certain things both awake and asleep. Love and emotion are outlawed in this society, both of which are associated strongly with religion. With contributions running in the millions, today’s religious television shows have no problem competing with other more popular shows, as they believe they are relaying a more important message. It has been estimated that the total revenue brought in by “electronic churches” is well over $500 million annually (Postman, 120).
There is one major problem with television as such a strong method of communication – it is all based on visualization. Religion is meant to be practiced in the mind and soul. This connection however, cannot be properly made through television. If a religious program were to be set up in a small shack with a candles and a wooden table, you would not watch it. This is because on the next channel there is a program with a huge, brightly lit room filled with beautiful flowers and clean-cut, happy looking people. This reaction is natural. Electronic preachers themselves know this, and use it to their advantage. But the question is, who would relay a stronger message. Well, verbally, neither. The words they speak are not what attract the viewer; the appearance is what attracts the viewer. Today on the “700 Club,” Pat Robertson decided he would try to prove religion is the key to longer life and happiness. He persisted in stating facts about frequent churchgoers. For example, he stated that 46% of people who attend church on a weekly basis live 12% longer than one who does not. He continued to emphasize the 46%. This would be fine, except he is trying to get people to join his club. The problem with his club is that its primary focus is to attract more and more members. So once you join, you are no longer important. The important people are the ones who still haven’t joined. With all the concentration on appearance, the show can tend to lack content. However, there is always the possibility that you will one day become the television star. For most, that alone is enough to stay. In order to join these clubs, and give up your hard earned dollars, you must believe in what you are investing in. In the book Faith On Earth, H. Richard Niebuhr defines belief as, “a state or habit of mind in which trust is placed in some person or thing.” (Niebuhr, 31). He also defines it more strongly and more to the point as, “conviction of the truth or reality of a thing based on grounds insufficient for positive knowledge.” (Niebuhr, 31). These people are made to believe. These shows give people what they want to see. They are subconsciously being forced into these groups. The case is the same in Brave New World. However, in that novel, you are being forced into society a certain way. For example, babies in the novel were being conditioned to dislike books and flowers by using electric shock and noise. Although unaware, they were being forced to dislike something.
“Observe,” said the Director triumphantly, “observe.”
Books and loud noises, flowers and electric shocks –
already in the infant mind these couples were compromis-
ingly linked; and after two hundred repetitions of the same
or a similar lesson would be wedded indissolubly. What
man has joined, nature is powerless to put asunder.” (Huxley, 36)
The cruel intentions this electronic religion is demonstrating is not “just another scam,” but it can be classified as a mockery of religion itself. In Brave New World, religion is completely outlawed, and therefore for the author to prove his point even further, he pokes fun at our religion. For example, their God, or the person they worship is Henry Ford. They label him “Our Ford”. “Our Ford himself did a great deal to shift the emphasis from truth and beauty to comfort and happiness.” (Huxley, 226). In our time, their Ford was a carmaker. God is being mocked. Carmakers are not the smartest people on the planet, nor did they have anything to do with religion. This is an insult to our religion. In our current society, God also comes second hand to someone. Electronic preachers, although you do not think that way, are actually placed in front of God, since they are the ones who are “curing” you and caring for you and relaying God’s message. By making religion entertaining, it can destroy its sacredness and purity. This can only be stopped by morals. As long as people are willing to run, view, or participate in these shows, they will not cease and no religious ethics will be practiced. God is only as real as we make him, and if this keeps up, we may no longer be praying to God himself, but to a television box, a stage with flowers and lights or even someday, a computer screen.
With religion becoming more an attraction than a tradition, we may no longer have someone to turn to for help or something to pray for when we are weak. We cannot turn to the television set for answers. Religion is now being used to make money, mostly through scamming people. In the process it’s authentic purity and spirituality is lost. But more importantly, is it destroying what religion we have left. Who knows what lies in the future of religion. Soon you may find yourself praying to your dog for answers. Now is the time, when a line must be drawn between the future and the past.