Television possesses tremendous potential. Like the printing press and the automobile, television can be used for either good or bad. Southern Baptists rejoice at the contributions television has made to American life while we lament the damage that television has done. Southern Baptists have a responsibility to help harness television’s potential for moral good and to help check its potential for moral evil. The Christian Life Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, in accordance with its program responsibility for Christian morality development, presents five recommendations.
(1) We recommend that the Southern Baptist Convention now courageously confront television’s moral challenge. This moral challenge is being flung at us by socially irresponsible television policy makers, profiteering advertisers, duty-shirking public officials, and most of all by apathetic television viewers. Christians fail God and fall short of his purposes for us when we tolerate television’s trash. Moreover, television fails us and it fails itself when it dumps into our homes a steady stream of illicit sex, casual violence, alcohol promotion, materialism, vulgarity, blasphemy, cursing, and the dead-end notion that everyone should “eat, drink, and be merry” (Luke 12:19) for “tomorrow we die” (1 Cor. 15:32). Let Southern Baptists courageously confront television’s moral challenge.
(2) We recommend that the Southern Baptist Convention encourage our churches to begin in August carefully to utilize the Christian Life Commission’s special study materials being mailed to every pastor, along with other trustworthy resources, to evaluate the impact of television on our lives, our families, our churches, and our society. Let Southern Baptists evaluate television’s impact.
(3) We recommend that the Southern Baptist Convention give its support to a special effort in all Southern Baptist churches throughout the month of September to encourage our members to exercise careful moral judgment regarding television, determining in advance which programs to watch and which programs not to watch in the knowledge that if we do not control television, television will control us. Christians cannot indiscriminately give television our eyes, our minds, and our time because our God is a jealous God who will have no other gods before Him (Ex. 20:3), and believers have “one Master, even Christ” (Matt. 23:8). Let Southern Baptists use moral discernment regarding television.
(4) We recommend that the Southern Baptist Convention encourage our people to use the month of October for special communication with those who are responsible for television programming. (A) Communicate with the advertisers who will pay attention when Christians buy products whose makers sponsor good programs and refuse to buy products whose makers sponsor bad programs. (B) Communicate with network officials: pray for them; write them; call them; reason with them; plead with them; commend them for the good; hold them responsible for the bad; and remember that ancient Rome at first had no earthly intention of paying any real attention to the early Christians. (C) Communicate with the local television station officials; write them; call them; visit them; share both your moral support and your moral outrage with them; and remind them of their moral obligation to the community. (D) Communicate with your Senators and Congressperson, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, and the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission to plead for their support on behalf of the rising tide of public concern for morality in television programming. Let Southern Baptists communicate our convictions about television.
(5) We recommend that the Southern Baptist Convention, especially during the year immediately ahead, encourage our churches and our people to act together and in cooperation with others who share our deep moral concern about current television programming to bring about needed changes in television. Southern Baptists possess awesome moral power but we can accomplish the objective of substantially improved television programming much more quickly and fully through a strongly united witness. Let Southern Baptists unite with each other and with others in a concerted effort to support the good and to eradicate the evil in television.
Television represents an immensely important aspect of modern life desperately needing Southern Baptists’ moral salt and moral light. Let Southern Baptists act. Let Southern Baptists act now. Let Southern Baptists make a great, aggressive, positive, united, visible, optimistic effort to affect television for God and for good.
“That the Southern Baptist Convention, through the Christian Life Commission, commends the producers of the ‘Wonderful World of Disney’ aired over NBC (and/or ABC and CBS), but suggests that since Southern Baptists believe in Church Training and Sunday evening worship services this excellent, wholesome family program be aired on Friday or Saturday evenings” (Kelly).
162. Ginger Chandler (Neb.) chairperson of the Committee on Denominational Calendar, presented the report and moved adoption, with changes to be made. That motion passed.