Media’s Feeding Frenzy: The Duggars and Other Christians in MediaPosted: June 10, 2015 | Author: Fr. Leo
The Duggar Family of "19 Kids and Counting" (Photo source: www.usmagazine.com)
It's no doubt that Christians are "targets" for media groups with hostile agendas. The mischaracterization of the Duggar family's horrible family crisis is just one example of the accepted-as-fact-media bias.
While I don't want to "excuse" the actions of Joshua Duggar, to label the entire family as "screwed up" or "out of touch" or "suspicious" is unfortunately a product of evil trying to confuse the situation for a good family. I heard snippets of the interview while waiting for my flight at the airport and found the parent and the sister-victims' responses to be contrary to the popular headlines. Popular media would like us to believe this "horrible" Christian family "concealed" the actions of their confused teenager's illegally harmful sexual exploration with his younger sisters. Instead, I heard the parents expressing great sadness and remorse for their family's situation, while trying to do the right thing. I was moved by their honest reaction to protect their victim daughters, while balancing the need to get help for their son, and then going to the police to make sure justice was met. I didn't see them as bad parents, concealing the abuse, but struggling parents trying to do the right thing.
Jill and Bob Duggar share their experience during an interview, which you can watch HERE.
Yet, the media's feeding frenzy fell into the typical fallacious thinking of judging the entire family by the actions of one confused member. They say the same about the church: "I don't like religious groups because some are hypocrites." That's just like saying, "I don't like America because some citizens are bad people," or "I don't like humanity because some humans get on my nerves!" We can't judge or mischaracterize a situation because of the actions of the few. But it seems that when it comes to Christianity, there isn't any "forgiveness" for anyone who does wrong. It makes me grateful that Jesus is the Lord to judge, and not the media or popular opinion.
Jesus as judge, from the National Basilica in DC.
The anti-Christian media groups were successful in voicing the need to remove the Duggar's hit show from TV, simply because the family (like every other family) is struggling. There is a push to remove the Duggars show but still support shows like "Real House Wives" and "Keeping Up with the Kardashians". The hypocrisy is unbelievable. While I've not watched the Duggar's show (I hardly have time to watch my own show), I know it promoted pro-family, pro-child, pro-faith values. Of course, they're not perfect, but it seems they are trying to be faithful. This boycott against Christian values in the media speaks of uneducated and true ignorance of those in the industry.
But instead of getting mad about it, I have an alternative solution. MAKE BETTER CHRISTIAN SHOWS! The success of religious themed movies, and TV religious shows, such as the current "AD: The Bible Continues" series, shows that it can be done.
Check out a great YouTube series with Archdiocese of Washington Priest, Fr. Bill Byrne (and a good friend of mine) give some practical reaction to the A.D. Series. It's good Catholic Media stuff)
The Christian message is THE most powerful and wonderful message that gives good news to the nations. We have to be proud of it, without becoming fearful of the critics or prideful of our talents. We ought to enthusiastically show the beauty of that message. While those in the media (including myself) can be exposed to the attacks - unfair or untrue as they may be - we have to be bold enough (cunning and innocent) to use the media and entertainment industry to share the Christian message to all. As I tell many Christians in the media world, if people see you as a role model, it shouldn't be because you're "perfect" but that you're trying to become a better person. With an attitude like that, the media can make any accusation or character assassination. In Christ, we are certainly "targets" of the mainstream media. But in Christ, we'll also be victorious in sharing the Good News!
Speaking of good news, I am proud to say there are some positive Christian Media opportunities for you to check out soon.
My nieces and nephews' music group JAGMAC now have their song "Existence" available on iTunes. Download this awesome song and encourage your kids to stay connected to JAGMAC, a music group that even Hollywood folk are saying will be the next big hit! And, also please pray for them as they enter into the difficult world of the entertainment industry.
Savoring Our Faith
My TV show Savoring our Faith will release NEW episodes this Fall where I travel to different restaurants, shrines and kitchens across the US, tasting and cooking delicious recipes with people who are devoted to their faith and to making good food.
"Holy & Hungry" on The Cooking Channel
Also exciting is that I filmed an episode for a new cooking show on The Cooking Channel called, "Holy and Hungry," hosted by Sherri Shepherd, who you may recognize from "The View" and many other films and shows. It's great to hear there was enough interest in a religious themed cooking show on a national network. Perhaps more opportunities will come as a result, we can hope.
Me with Sherri Shepherd, formerly on "The View" and now the host of "Holy & Hungry" on The Cooking Channel
Let us pray
Father in heaven, we pray for all Christians involved in media and entertainment. Protect them in your love. Give them guidance so to avoid the pitfalls of arrogance and sin. Should they fall into temptation, give them grace to rise from it, seek your mercy by confessing their sins, and then reconciling and promising to try and be better. May their "fans" never idolize them so as to create a false impression of who they are. May they use their talents well, but also use it for the building up of God's kingdom. Give your mercy and love to the families and friends of those in the "spotlight" as they seek to help the popular stars remain humble. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Food for Thought
(1) If you were a Hollywood celebrity, how would you stay humble?
(2) Do you thinks it's brave or stupid for the Duggar's to have their family life on TV?
(3) How can we better promote the Christian message in the media?