Sunday, February 3, 2013

A French Canadian's perspective on the Question Evolution! Campaign and the mainstream media

                                                    Lac Saint-Jean in Quebec

My name is Paul Gosselin and I am French Canadian anthropologist, author and creation activist. 

I was contacted by a member of the Question Evolution! Campaign today and I am very excited that a worldwide grassroots anti-evolution campaign has been launched.  The campaign is an excellent introduction to the creation vs. evolution issue.

I have provided contact information to supporters of the campaign to the leading French speaking creationists in both Canada and France.   Due to immigration from religious immigrants, France has been recently blessed by a strong growth of the Christian evangelical faith so the timing is ripe to introduce French speakers to biblical creation material.  I am very encouraged to hear that efforts are being made to translate the Question Evolution! campaign into French. Also, I have been invited to participate in the new forum for volunteers of the campaign and it sounds like a great place for creating and organizing creation evangelism and anti-evolutionary grassroots efforts. 

Because the campaign is embarking on major expansion in terms of its outreach, I thought I would share some thoughts on the mainstream media and how to bypass them and reach people directly.

I've had a few dealings with mainstream media and I've observed that when critical ideological issues are at stake (such as the origins debate), you can count on them to lie (about their motivations and objectives) and to be biased (in whatever they subsequently produce). I wouldn't be surprised if other Evangelicals who have dealt with mainstream media would have a few stories to tell to back this up. Yeah, there are a few exceptions from time to time, but as a rule, I find that the bigger the media institution the journalist (who you are dealing with) works for, the more biased and deceitful they will be.

The following case related by Phil Robinson on the CMI web site is an excellent example of such a situation. I recommend any of you having had (or expecting) to deal with mainstream media to read this even if the issue you are involved in is not origins but abortion, gay marriage, euthanasia, etc...

A road trip with a difference!: Creationism on trial:

A road trip with a difference! Creationism on trial

I like one of Robinson’s concluding remarks. He says: "I would urge other Christians to think very carefully before taking part in any such productions in the future."

Yeah, VERY carefully...

In fact I would go a lot further than what Robinson says. I find that many Evangelicals attempting to reach a wide audience have a 1950's attitude that to do so you HAVE TO go through mass media institutions. That used to be true, but today with the Internet, with blogs, web sites, video production using even a HD-capable smart phone, one can completely by-pass mainstream media (TV or big name newspapers) and reach audiences in the millions. Particularly if you produce anything in English. Some work is involved of course, but it can be done by lots of people.

Bottom line, Evangelicals today DON’T NEED mainstream media to reach an audience.

My view is that at this point in time Evangelicals can easily IGNORE mainstream media and should do so (in most cases). If someone has a view he wants to express, there are all kinds of other ways to get it out now. Years ago your only option was a letter to the editor or perhaps standing on a soap-box, but no more... Of course dealing with mainstream media may seem to guarantee reaching a mass-market, but often the question few ask is can anyone prove this? With a blog or web site it is relatively easy to identify how many unique visitors have hit a web site, but with TV or a newspaper, it isn't so easy.

But another reason for ignoring mainstream media is their bias. But I would go further and state that from an anthropological point of view mainstream Western media must be primarily viewed as an ideological institution. When you see a couple man/woman or two guys dressed like in the 1950s knocking at your door on a Saturday morning, chances are very good you're dealing with Mormons or JWs. And typically if you have any doubts before opening the door, you have none after one minute of conversation.

As I point out in my book Flight From the Absolute, vol. 1 mainstream media is more hypocritical. They pattern their approach on that of Free-Masons who VERY much AVOID at all costs gaining converts by any out-in-the-open approach, such as knocking on doors and handing out tracts on the street to make one-on-one contacts, but MUCH prefer a top down approach, that is infiltrating circles of power and forcing their views on captive audiences down below. This is of course largely how Evolution has gotten promoted in media and in public education.

So I would contend that in most instances mainstream media must be considered an ideologico-religious institution and Evangelicals should expect no more "neutrality" or "balanced treatment" from them than when dealing with Scientology cultists, a Muslim Imam or Moonies.

Once it is understood that despite the fact mainstream media does deliver objective facts (events such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes) when no ideological or moral implications are involved, if you look at the Big Picture however, one is forced to see how Modern/Materialist or Postmodern (There Is No Truth) religions put a slant on all the media produces. This is particularly true regarding the work of media Gatekeepers, that is those who decide what is "newsworthy" and what is not and who decide how to slant events (or individuals) which contradict media ideological views.

In a case such as Robinson's if one asks WHY the media treat Evangelicals this way, it is clear that it is to attain the following unstated objectives:

1) attack a consistent Christian worldview, not by rational argument, but by discrediting Christian individuals and portraying them in a negative light (by portraying them as hypocrites, idiots, fanatics or perverts, take you pick...)
2) Avoid a direct attack, which maintains the illusion of the media neutrality.

On such matters, British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge regarded the vaunted "objectivity" of the media as myth. In reality, the media’s "facts" are constructs:

"The ostensibly serious offerings of the media, on the other hand, represent a different menace precisely because they are liable to pass for being objective and authentic, whereas actually they, too, belong to the realm of fantasy. Here, the advent and exploration of visual material with the coming of the camera, has played a crucial role. This applies especially to news and so-called documentaries, both of which are regarded as factual, but which, in practice, are processed along with everything else in the media's fantasy-machine. Thus news becomes, not so much what has happened, as what can be seen as happening, or seems to have happened. As for documentaries, anyone who has worked on them, as I have extensively, knows that the element of simulation in them has always been considerable, and has only increased as making and directing them has become more sophisticated and technically developed. Christopher Ralling, a gifted BBC producer, in an article in the Listener, has expressed his concern about how documentary-makers tend more and more to venture into a no-man's-land between drama and documentary." ( pp. 61-62)

MUGGERIDGE, Malcom (1978) Christ and the Media.
Eerdmanns Grand Rapids MI (London Lectures in Contemporary Christianity) 127 p.

And here of course is the self-serving part...

God bless all you Creation warriors out there!

Paul Gosselin

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