Replacing Fake News With Wholesome Television
The Atlantic recently interview former Governor of Arkansas and former Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Huckabee has anew show that will air on the TBN and his first guest is none other than the poster-child for the Christian Right: Donald J. Trump.
Here's an excerpt of the interview with Emma Green I want to focus on:
Green: Particularly over the last year or so, Christian media seems to have gotten a profile boost—organizations like the Christian Broadcasting Network have routinely landed interviews with President Trump.
Why is Christian television having a moment right now?
Huckabee: I think more people are looking to faith in their personal lives because of the uncertainties in the world. Everything from North Korea to natural disasters gives them an extraordinary sense of stress and unease, and the one anchor and rock that many people have discovered gives them perspective and equilibrium is their faith.
I also believe that there’s a real hunger for television programming that is wholesome. Not necessarily overtly religious—people don’t necessarily want to watch all-day preaching or teaching—but they also want to be entertained in a way that does not insult them as individuals.
I think they’re looking for programming that they can safely tune to and not have to rush the children out of the room or to feel like they have to take a shower having watched a show that is frankly insulting to everything they hold dear.
There are a few things here we need to address.
First, Huckabee asserts that the rise of Christian media is due to "a real hunger for television programming that is wholesome." The question here then resides in Huckabee's choice for his first guest. While the office of the President so be regarded as a wholesome and idealistic of the values the overwhelming majority of Americans hold I question the wholesomeness of President Trump. This is a man who brags about sexually assaulting women and boldly declared that the nation he is the leader of is willing to "totally destroy North Korea," raising the question, does this man hold the wholesome values Huckabee argues Christians are hungering for in television programming?
This is where the critique of the Evangelical vote for Trump is strongest. While on one hand supporting a man who speaks and acts contrary to the wholeness Conservative Evangelicals and on the other desiring a replacement for the sex and violence which has increased throughout the entertainment industry. If Donald Trump is the wholesome entertainment Huckabee argues Conservative Christians are hungering for, what does that say about the state Conservative Evangelicals and their leadership in the United States?
There is an obvious conflict of interest here. While one on hand Emma Stone acknowledges that Huckabee "claims to speak for his entire religious community" but he obviously cannot because those Huckabee represents are just as divided as others within the Christian community in America.
Where BS really needs to be called in Huckabee's statements is here:
Nobody pretends that he would be an ideal Sunday-school teacher, to be fair. I don’t think he is a person who is deeply acquainted with the Bible and he’s not known to set attendance records at church. But he’s very respectful of people of faith. And that’s really all people in the Christian community want. They don’t care whether or not the guy believes as they do. They just want someone who will respect their beliefs, and not denigrate them, and not try to use the power of government to silence them. And he’s been very adamant and clear that he believes in religious liberty, believes that people’s beliefs should be protected.
The respect of people of faith among Donald Trump and leaders like Mike Huckabee lie only with people who have a theology (or lack their of) that mirrors there's. They are not respectful towards Christians outside the Conservative Evangelical camp. And with travel bans against Muslim specific countries during times of refugee crisis tells us this the respect Huckabee speaks of is a talking point and nothing more.
The rise of Christian entertainment is not a reaction to the public's desire for wholesome television programming. Rather it is a rise of fear within the leadership of Conservative Evangelical leaders, i.e. old white men. From movies like God's Not Dead to networks like CBN and TBN, along with online platforms like Pureflix, Conservative Evangelicals are holding on for dear life, using the disguise of wholesome television programming to further an agenda that excludes others and reserves power for themselves.
Months ago people like Huckabee and Trump were calling for the replacement of "fake news" outlets because they did not like what was being reported about their behavior and policies. The next step in the replacement of fake new outlets will be the creation of echo-chambers where Conservative Evangelicals and their allies will only hear what the likes of Huckabee and Trump want them to hear. After all, people on these outlets advocate that God uses death and violence to punish us for things like same-sex marriage and abortion, echoing the same twisted theology they've used to divide Conservative Evangelicals from Christians around the world.
Do not be fooled by the likes of Huckabee and those pushing the political agenda to maintain power for Conservative Evangelicals. Replacing fake news with wholesome television programming is more about maintaining power than it is about family-friendly programming.