By Michele Rosenthal (auth.)
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Additional info for American Protestants and TV in the 1950s: Responses to a New Medium
19 While the legal separation of church and state was considered necessary for the health of both, the church was thought to play an important, if not indispensable, civic function. As the NCC president Henry Knox Sherill declared: There cannot be a nation under God without there being first churches under God with all that implies in intellectual and spiritual strength and discipline. There can be no artificial division between the sacred and the secular. . 20 The National Council agenda thus was rhetorically defined in terms of the promotion and preservation of America’s semiestablished religion, a religion that was unsurprisingly largely indistinguishable from what Gramsci might have called the “spontaneous philosophy” of mainline Protestantism.
13 While there was some reason to worry that the faith of Protestant America was being challenged by Roman Catholicism and secularism, overall the mood was one of triumphalism, tempered only by the fear of imminent cultural change. 14 In the fifth article, “Protestantism and Commercialized Entertainment,” Morrison argued that along with a “secularized educational system and the widespread acceptance of the messianic pretensions of science” (subjects of earlier articles), overexposure to commercialized entertainment was making the “culture .
While the FCC decisions eliminated the networks’ motivation for donating time to the so-called mainline religious groups, these changes in regulations do not explain why mainline broadcasters would not seek alternative funding opportunities or alternative avenues for producing media. While mainline Protestants were willing and able to raise large sums of money for other purposes, they declined to buy airtime and largely forfeited their future participation in the growing media culture. To examine this change in policy and practice, this chapter focuses upon the creation of the Broadcast and Film Commission (BFC) of the 38 American Protestants and TV in the 1950s National Council of Churches (NCC) and the role of its parent organization the National Council of Churches of Christ in the larger society.
American Protestants and TV in the 1950s: Responses to a New Medium by Michele Rosenthal (auth.)