It’s a Crossfire World

New York Times columnist Frank Rich writes that producers of television programs such as Crossfire who select controversial and inflammatory religious voices as guests on their programs also shut out those responsible voices of moderation.

don’t necessarily make for good television but voices from the middle offer room
for understanding and hope for compromise on many critical values-related
issues. In my opinion, this practice not only leads to polarization, it also
marginalizes many responsible religious leaders whose views should be heard in
the public conversation. It also reveals that content is secondary to
controversy, quirkiness or drama. The result is obvious. Content takes a back
seat to entertainment. The better entertainers get exposure, and, as Rich
points out, some of these don’t even serve within religious communities. They
are usually political partisans who represent narrow opinions that don’t reflect
the cumulative wisdom of religious tradition.

Yet, because they are presented as if they
represent the Christian community, they not only shape the discussion, they also
appear to define religious thought. Rich is correct to ask if Al Sharpton, who
doesn’t serve a congregation, and Jerry Falwell, who represents a narrow and
partisan slice of the evangelical right, are truly representative of the
Christian community, or are they simply the media-designated talk show guests
who provide entertainment but not much light? The public dialogue deserves
better, and the millions of responsible Christians who take faith seriously and
believe it has the capacity to reconcile us and heal brokenness, deserve better
as well.

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