By Michele Rosenthal (auth.)
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Additional info for American Protestants and TV in the 1950s: Responses to a New Medium
60 The Protestant work ethic was being publicly chipped away. Worse than promoting cheating, the quiz show “offered opium to broadbottomed viewers, it dragged those who might have been ambitious. ”62 Even as the younger generation of Century writers such as Martin E. ”65 “Turn It Off ”66 In the end, TV was worthy only of protest. If TV could not be redeemed as an educator, or as a political tool for democratization, then the editors could see little reason to spend time viewing the television.
As Protestant cultural dominance became less and less of a given in the post–World War II America, ecumenical organizations such as the NCC and the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) worked hard to reverse that process. ” Under the rhetorical guise of evangelism, mainline Protestant programming was largely focused upon building a national religious consensus. Conversion of individuals to Christianity was not really the point of early BFC programming, even if it might have been legitimated using those terms.
In hindsight these positions seem clearly to reflect Protestant theology, but in the 1950s the mainliners found it difficult to distinguish American from Protestant. The Secular Threat After Catholicism the next enemy was secularism. The commercialization of the sacred holidays was a disturbing phenomenon to The Christian Century, and the editors were quick to blame the TV for its part in this process. Programming on Easter of 1952, for example, was condemned by The Christian Century as deceiving and nonrepresentative: Last year as our readers will recall, they prostituted this day supposedly sacred to the most important triumphant festival of the Christian year to commercial and theatrical exploitation so crass that it revolted every decent viewer.
American Protestants and TV in the 1950s: Responses to a New Medium by Michele Rosenthal (auth.)