Sunday, May 4, 2008

Christian Radio?

UPDATED (see below)

It's been a crazy time around here for the last week or so, and today blended in quite well with that theme. With one of the kids coming down with tonsilitis, and the other 4 with all the pre-symptoms, we opted to stay home from church and spare sharing that particular gift with anyone else.

I had planned to make a few stops after church today, but since I wasn't going, I went ahead and went out to run my errands all the same. Now this is a day of the week and a time of day that I would never be listening to the radio, since I'm in church listening to my pastor. But... I figured, since I can't be in church today, I might as well turn on Christian radio. Ahem. I figured way wrong.

Now before I get into today's particular content, I want to be fair about Christian radio. Fair is, they play some good stuff, some not-so-good stuff, and some downright horrible stuff. That includes both music and the sermons/teachings they air. This is the same station that plays worship music after church (some of the same worship songs we sing in church) and the same station that plays John MacArthur every weekday morning at 10:30am. So there are some really good things about this particular station.

This morning however, was a show on called Perspectives. Even before I heard the content I knew it was going to feature non-Christian religious views (with a name like that, it's a pretty sure-fire giveaway). I knew this, because I'm in Canada where there is truly no such thing as Christian radio, or Christian tv, for that matter. See, in Canada there's some sort of religious broadcasting policy that dictates what can and what cannot appear or be broadcast over the airwaves. I don't know the exact wording of the policy (and locating it proved to be a pain in the neck), but Canadian folks seem to be under the impression that "religious" tv stations and radio stations must give some amount of air-time to non-Christian views. Maybe that explains the non-Christians all over such tv stations and radio stations. (I'd like to see the actual wording of the policy, if anyone reading knows how to easily locate it).

So then, this morning's show... Perspectives. For the first part of the show (I only heard the last 5 minutes or so of it) they interviewed some author promoting Kabballah. One of the last questions the interviewer asked him was "according to your faith, where do you go when you die?". The man answered and said ... something that didn't make much sense about your mind being in a non-local position (what he meant by that is that the actual "mind" cannot be found within the physical brain), so then, since your mind is non-local, you become non-local and you "go" wherever you imagine life after death is. I guess if you imagine it to be in Disneyworld, that's where you end up. Seems pretty convenient to me that you just float away to some happy place for all eternity.

One of the things that this man said that actually made me listen closer to the program, was that while he "greatly respects Christianity", there's a saying in the Christian religion that he finds interesting, since Kabballah teaches something similar, but a bit of a twist. He said that in Christianity, the saying is "do unto to others before they do unto you", and that in Kabballah the saying is "do NOT do unto others, what you would not have them do unto you". I'm not sure if he just mis-spoke there, or if he really believes Chrsitianity teaches that. I'm also not sure why he likes the Kabballah saying better, he didn't say - he just mentioned something about "restrictions" that really didn't make any sense to me. So, that was my mini-education on the glorious teachings of Kabballah.

So then, the show was over and not one word of correction, nothing about how "the views of the preceding program do not necessarily reflect the views of this station". Nothing. Just on to the next brief segment of Perspectives, with Rabbi Somebody or Other from Jews for Judaism, from Toronto.

I didn't catch his name, but the Rabbi's segment was just a few minutes long and he was going on about how the most desirable character trait to have, is humility. No argument from me, that it's a desirable trait to have. The man goes on to teach us that from the very beginning of the Bible, God Himself teaches us humility, when He said "let us make man in our image". The Rabbi explained of course, that God was speaking to the angels. The way that this was a lesson in humility is that even though God didn't need their help, or input, He decided to humble Himself before them and include them in the creation process by bringing them in on the creation of man.

Let me tell you, I nearly ran off the highway as he was saying this. Of course I knew there was no way he was going to refer to the Trinity, he can't! But still... to hear such a teaching on a Christian radio station just made me feel so sickened. It literally grieved my very soul. Right after this statement, his segment was over and they played some sort of Jewish song, then it was on to the next show. Again, not one word of rebuttal, correction, disagreement, disclaimer... NOTHING from the radio station folks themselves, or even the DJ. Nada, zip, zilch.

And this, from an supposed Christian radio station (Hope FM) broadcasting on a Sunday morning. I couldn't help but wonder, why they aired that false teaching on the one day of the week, and the one time of the day, that unbelievers might actually be looking for a Christian radio station to listen to? Even unbelievers associate Sunday mornings with church, and the Christian faith, and I know when I was an unbeliever I knew that THAT was the day of the week and the time of day that I could hear Christian teaching on Christian radio (and I did listen, once in a while).

Guess what? Folks listening to Hope FM this morning did NOT get solid, Biblical Christian teaching, they got an earful of false teaching. What's worse, if possible, is that they didn't hear any kind of rebuttal or correction to the false teachings that were aired.

I understand the whole compliance with religious broadcast policy and all that, but does that policy require the station owners to broadcast false teaching on what just might be the best evangelistic time of the week? If not, then why do they do it? If yes, then what good are they doing? For that matter, what in the world are they doing yoking themselves with unbelievers anyway? Yes of course I realize you can't broadcast unless you agree to the broadcast policy/law, but if that law says you MUST promote false teaching, then... you see where I'm going with this?

Can you imagine a law passing that demands your pastor to give a percentage of the Sunday service over to a Muslim, Roman Catholic, Wiccan, or Scientologist? Would that be okay as long as he preaches the gospel for the first 45 minutes of the morning, and they only get 15 minutes to promote their religion?

Ugh... I'm trying to give Christian radio a fair shake, but when I hear this kind of blatant, anti-Christian teaching on a so-called Christian radio station, it's really hard to stay gracious.


After a considerable amount of figuring out just how to word the query correctly, gave up a couple of links that I found useful.

• It's called "Public Notice CRTC 1993-78". It's rather long, so I'll just condense it.

In Canada, religion is considered a matter of public concern. Therefore, the CRTC has concluded that matters of public concern being broadcast over the airwaves must be "balanced":

- Broadcasters must deal with matters of public concern in their programming and do so in a balanced fashion. Not all programming need be balanced, only that relating to matters of public concern. The Commission considers religious matters to be of public concern.
- Broadcasters should, in the first instance, determine for themselves when an issue is important enough to merit full discussion presenting a wide range of opinions, in what manner the differing views should be presented, and who should present them.
- In general, a broadcaster need not provide balance in each program or series of programs, but rather in the overall programming offered by the undertaking, over a reasonable period of time.
- To attain balance, a broadcaster need not necessarily give equal time to each point of view. Rather, the Commission expects that a variety of points of view will be made available in the programming offered by the undertaking to a reasonably consistent viewer or listener, over a reasonable period of time.

You can read the full article here.

• I found this July 2007 article rather interesting, especially the very name of the article:

Christian radio station forced to give time to other faiths
When is a Christian radio station not a Christian radio station? For the hour or so a day that it must air the views of other faiths to satisfy the CRTC's "balance" policy. "It's ridiculous," says Bob Du Broy, vice-president of Ottawa's CHRI Christian music station. "It's like asking a rock station to play an hour of classical music." CHRI's announcers also find themselves in the bizarre situation of working for a Christian station without being able to talk much about Christianity for fear of triggering the "balance" issue."

So there it is. If you're a "mainstream" Christian radio broadcaster in Canada, you are required by broadcast policy to air contrary opinions and viewpoints, to the Christian content you're broadcasting.

There is a Discretionary Religious Services section of the CRTC policy that allows for religious broadcasting to air without providing this "balance", as long as the station is subscription only, broadcast by encryption, and packaged alongside other single-view religious broadcasting, subscription only choices.

More hoops to jump through, but at least there is a way to have an actual Christian radio station, in Canada. Obviously Hope FM decided not to go the route of subscriber only, (financially) listener-supported radio. That's too bad, that pragmatism won out for them. Considering the blatant anti-Christian content I heard on that station yesterday morning, it's quite clear that in this case, the ends do NOT justify the means.

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