TV Portrays Christian Leaders as Irrelevant, Study Says Religious Characters Are Seen as `Bland and Shallow'

Article excerpt

A new study has found that prime-time television depicts Christian leaders as mostly useless and irrelevant.

They aren't portrayed as rogues, and they aren't ridiculed or demeaned, as is sometimes claimed. But they're presented as shallow, marginal figures with little influence in life.

"They aren't attacked, but they also are portrayed as lacking real Christian leadership qualities," said researcher Thomas Skill of the University of Dayton.

Skill and James D. Robinson, analyzed 68 hours of prime-time television, involving 100 fictional episodes.

"The expectation that religion would be attacked is just not true," Skill said in an Interview. "That's the good part. The bad part is that religious leaders just aren't there in any meaningful way.

"They're kind of bland and shallow. They aren't an influential force in the lives around them. In many cases, they're not there at all. There's no attempt to explore the religious elements in most decisions people face."

Skill said the secular world, including television, does "not seem to know what priests or ministers do" and consequently portrays them as a kind of marginal, ceremonial vestige, not directly involved with human problems. …