June 2007
NEWS OF INTEREST

PTC finds TV ratings faulty
The Parents Television Council (PTC) recently conducted its fifth examination of the television ratings system and found it to be unreliable and inconsistent.

The purpose of the ratings system is to provide viewers with age-appropriate guidelines and content descriptors as indicators of a program’s specific contents. The system’s ratings include: TV-Y, TV-Y7, TV-G, TV-PG, TV-14 and TV-MA. The latter three ratings are understood to contain at least one of the following: sexual content (S), violence (V), coarse language (L) and suggestive dialogue (D).

Since there are no guidelines in applying the content descriptors, each network rates its own programs, which leads to an inconsistent system. By monitoring all prime time shows on the six major networks for a three-month period, PTC found this system to be more harmful than helpful.

Due to 99% of the prime time programs being rated either TV-PG or TV-14, the examination concentrated on quantifying a program’s sexual content, violence and foul language in relation to the content descriptor placed on the program. 

According to an executive summary from the PTC, “content descriptors are not being used consistently by any of the broadcast networks during prime time viewing hours.”

Specific findings directly quoted from the report include the following:

54% of shows withsuggestive dialogue lacked the “D” descriptor.

63% of shows containing sexual content lacked the “S” descriptor.

42% of shows containing violence lacked the “V” descriptor.

44% of shows containing foul language lacked the “L” descriptor. 

On ABC, 100% of the TV-14 rated programs lacked one or more descriptors.

92% of NBC’s TV-14 rated programs lacked one or more descriptors.

On CBS, 73% of the TV-14 rated programs containing sexual content lacked the “S” descriptor.

In addition, none of the programs reviewed in this examination received a TV-MA rating, which means the networks deemed these programs suitable for minors. This includes an episode of C.S.I. Miami (photo above) in which a woman dies of asphyxiation while being raped orally, a man is mauled by a bear, and scenes from a strip club are shown.

Based on these findings, the PTC concludes that the ratings are inadequate when it comes to protecting children and families from objectionable content. Therefore, the PTC believes it’s up to the FCC to enforce broadcast decency laws and up to the American people to hold the networks accountable.

www.parentstv.org, 4/16/07

AFA/ACTIVISM
Shell Oil changes policy to permit porn sales
Should Shell Oil Company require Shell-branded Circle K Stores to stop selling pornographic magazines as Shell has done in the past with other independent retailers?

AFA Chairman Don Wildmon is asking supporters to contact the company, after Circle K recently bought 240 independently-owned Shell-branded stores. The majority of those Shell stores did not sell porn prior to Circle K snapping them up, but now Circle K has added Penthouse and Playboy magazines to its items for sale.

The stores will keep the Shell name, which puts the gas company in a quandary. Shell had contractually forbidden its stores to sell pornography, but it has now decided to change its definition of pornography to exclude Penthouse and Playboy.

Otto O’Meyers, III, general manager for U.S. Retail Operations Support for Shell Oil Company, recently told a concerned customer, “In regard to your inquiry about specific Circle K locations, our investigation has concluded that these stores are not selling pornography as one would think the general public defines it, but rather ‘adult sophisticate’ magazines such as Playboy and Penthouse.”

Wildmon said, “Shell Oil Company no longer considers the hardcore content of Penthouse and explicit nudity in Playboy to be pornographic. No other major oil company has taken this position. Shell Oil Company stands alone as the only major oil company to treat Penthouse and Playboy as non-pornographic materials.”

Wildmon encouraged AFA supporters to ask Shell Oil Company to follow the standards and definitions established and enforced by all other major oil companies regarding the sale of pornographic materials by strictly prohibiting the sale of Penthouse, Playboy and other magazines that feature full nudity and explicit sexual conduct at all Shell-branded stations, including Circle K Stores.

Contact information:
John Hofmeister, Chairman
Shell Oil Company
P.O. Box 2463
Houston, TX  77252
Phone: 888-467-4355
E-Mail: John.Hofmeister@shell.com

ENTERTAINMENT
Christian movies are big at box office
A nine-year study of the box office once again confirms that movies with a Christian worldview make more money than films with offensive content. The findings are the results of a study conducted by Dr. Ted Baehr, publisher of MovieGuide.

“In fact, Christian movies make two to seven times as much money, and often three to five times as much money, as movies with explicit sex and nudity,” Baehr wrote in an article summarizing the study.

According to the study, over the last nine years movies with a “strong” or “very strong” Christian worldview have a box office average ranging from $30.1 million to $106.3 million per movie. In contrast, earnings from films with “very strong” foul language, sex and/or nudity range from $6.3 million to $27.7 million per movie.

“If Hollywood executives and filmmakers want to make more money at the box office, they should make more movies that reflect a very strong Christian worldview with very strong moral values,” Baehr concluded.

www.christiannewstoday.com, 3/12/07

Disney to allow homosexual ‘weddings’
Christian families are being warned by AFA that they could be exposed to more than they bargained for if they take a vacation to Walt Disney World or Disneyland.

The Walt Disney Company recently announced it is making wedding ceremonies at its parks and on its cruise lines available to homosexual couples. For years The Walt Disney Company had limited its “Fairy Tale Wedding” program to couples with valid marriage licenses. But a Disney spokesman said that policy was changed after a homosexual couple wanting to use its wedding service contacted the company.

One pro-homosexual Web site quotes a Disney representative as saying the company’s decision to update its program guidelines to include “commitment ceremonies” is consistent with Disney’s overall policy of “creating a welcoming, respectful, and inclusive environment” for its guests.

“We are not in the business of making judgments about the lifestyles of our guests,” said the Disney spokesman. “We are in the hospitality business and our parks and resorts are open to everyone.”

Such inclusiveness, said AFA president Tim Wildmon, is why families must be warned. “You could be innocently taking your family to Disney World or Disneyland, and you’re walking down the middle of the park and here comes this parade of wedding attendees [that includes] two men who’ve just gotten ‘married’ at Disney World,” he said. “That’s something to take into consideration before you go and patronize The Walt Disney Company this summer.”

Wildmon said he believed a 10-year boycott of The Walt Disney Company by pro-family organizations made a lasting impact and impression. But the family advocate contends Disney’s recent move is another example of the influence homosexual activists have with secular businesses.

“Secular corporations continue to have pressure applied to them by secular forces. The homosexual agenda – those who promote that movement – want to use Disney as much as they possibly can to legitimize their particular lifestyle, and the Disney Corporation in this case has gone along with them.”

Jeffrey Epstein and Eddie Shapiro, homosexuals and authors of a Disney travel guide for gays and lesbians, told USA Today that the company’s decision regarding same-sex weddings was huge.

“I think this is tantamount to Disney’s approval of gay marriage,” they said. “They’re saying, ‘No matter what the government says, if you want to get married, it’s fine by us.’”

The wedding service offers ceremonies at Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California (homosexual “marriage” is legal in neither state) and on Disney’s cruise ships. According to Reuters, the packages can cost upwards of $8,000.

OneNewsNow.com, 4/10/07; Reuters, 4/5/07; USA Today, 4/13/07

OMD says it is fed up with FX network
AFA is asking for sponsors to pull their support from FX, a broadcasting and cable network that’s being described as having “the most gratuitous sex, violence and profanity” on any network today.

The project is being spearheaded by OneMillionDads.com (OMD), an AFA project that acts as an Internet-based, pro-family media watchdog.

OMD said the nature of the programming on FX has necessitated the group’s “Fed Up with FX Network” campaign. OMD is asking all commercial sponsors to pull their support of FX programs and said the group will target those advertisers who do not.

Rescue Me and Dirt are two criticized FX programs sponsored by Arby’s, which OMD has petitioned to drop commercial sponsorship. The fast-food chain’s only response has been for its corporate office to block e-mails sent from OMD members through the group’s Web server.

OMD spokesman Randy Sharp said sponsors for the network are typified by Arby’s. In blocking the e-mails, Sharp contends Arby’s is essentially telling American consumers it has “no concern” for children, and instead is choosing to put its profits into helping put more of what he describes as “offensive programming” on cable television.

“Arby’s is a company which says this [type of programming] deserves its commercial endorsement,” said Sharp, “and they’re putting money behind it.”

OneNewsNow.com, 4/10/07

PORNOGRAPHY
Porn prominent among rural boys
A new study from the University of Alberta in Canada reveals that 13- and 14-year-old boys living in rural areas are more likely to access pornography than others in their age group.

The findings come from surveys of 429 students, ages 13 and 14, taken in 17 rural and urban schools throughout Alberta. The students anonymously answered questions about how and how often they view sexually explicit material on television, video, DVD and the Internet.

Overall, 90% of males and 70% of females surveyed admitted to accessing sexually explicit media at least once. More than a third of the male responses indicated they have viewed pornography on DVDs and videos “too many times to count.”

In terms of location, nearly half of the respondents living in rural areas reported seeing pornographic videos and DVDs at least once in comparison to one-third of those living in urban areas.

Sonya Thompson, a graduate student at the University of Alberta, is not sure why rural teens access DVD and video porn more than urban teens, but she suggests it’s possibly because parents view distance as a buffer.

“Maybe they have a false sense of thinking they are far away from unhealthy influences,” Thompson proposed.

Which could also partially explain why rural boys reported lower incidences of parental confrontation as compared to urban girls who were most likely to have discussed sexually explicit media with their parents. The majority of those surveyed said their parents were concerned but not so much to initiate a discussion or any type of supervision.

“It indicates there is plenty of room for better parenting around pornography use,” Thompson said. “Parents need to improve dialogue with their children and their own awareness level. They have to be educated enough to be the ones setting the boundaries in the house.”

She added, “Families using media together is no longer the norm, so parents need to know what their kids have access to in their alone time.”

www.expressnews.ualberta.ca, 2/23/07

PRO-LIFE
Pro-life leader tempers excitement over U.S. Supreme Court ruling
The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision which upheld a federal ban on the gruesome procedure known as partial-birth abortion will not save the life of a single baby, according to Mark Crutcher, president of  Life Dynamics.

Many pro-life Americans cheered the high court’s decision, a 5-4 vote issued in April. The ruling upheld the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush in 2003. The court said the bill does not violate a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.

As expected, the key swing vote was provided by Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Reagan appointee who supports Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling which legalized abortion. Joining Kennedy were Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito.

Crutcher, however, said Kennedy was willing to support the ban because it only controls the method used in an abortion, yet does not prevent a woman from obtaining one.

He also added that many pro-lifers wrongly concluded from the high court’s decision that the number of partial-birth abortions performed every year equals the number of babies that will now have their lives spared.

“We need to temper our excitement over something like this by the fact that this ban won’t save one single baby,” he said. “Every baby that would have been killed with a partial-birth abortion or a D&X, whichever you want to call it, will simply be killed with a D&E or hysterotomy or some other abortion method.”

For example, Crutcher said some abortionists are now performing “live-birth abortions,” which involve inducing labor and intentionally doing nothing for the baby as it comes out of the womb so the child dies.

OneNewsNow.com, 4/18/07

Renting wombs is source of income
Renting a womb in India is becoming a business practice much like renting a car in the United States.
Lower middle-class housewives in India are being paid by childless couples throughout the world to serve as surrogate mothers. For the Indian women, it’s a way to make a fortune. For childless couples, it’s the road to parenthood.

Surrogacy clients are usually couples suffering from infertility, or educated women who do not want pregnancy to interrupt their careers. Surrogate mothers are young, healthy women who are married with children.

“My husband lost his limbs working in the factory,” said surrogate mother Jyoti Dave, from India. “We could not manage even a meal a day. That is when I decided to rent out my womb.”

Surrogate motherhood is a growing source of income in India, where such services come cheaper than in the West.

“In the U.S. a childless couple would have to spend anything up to $50,000,” said fertility specialist Gautam Allahbadia. “In India, it’s done for $10,000-$12,000.” And the surrogate mother receives between $3,000 and $6,000 – a fortune in a country where the yearly per capita income is approximately $500.

Some are calling it “commoditization of motherhood” and others believe the rich are exploiting the poor. Either way, both parties are getting what they want, and they sign a contract to ensure that.

Although there are no official figures, it is estimated that 100 to 150 surrogate babies are born annually in India.

www.reuters.com, 2/5/07

Pro-life efforts paying dividends, researcher says
A social scientist at the University of Alabama said pro-life laws at the state level are effectively reducing the number of abortions nationwide among both teens and adults – but the mainstream media continues to ignore such research.

University of Alabama professor Michael New said the 20% decline in abortions across the U.S. since 1990 is largely the result of progress made by those enacting pro-life legislation at the state level. New has conducted research into that success, and he said he hoped it would encourage pro-lifers to tout their achievements.

“Superficially a lot of people don’t think the pro-life movement has really been very effective because 34 years later we still have not overturned Roe v. Wade,” he said, referring to the 1973 landmark decision that legalized abortion on demand in America. “But we have made a lot of very good incremental gains.” And that, he added, is something that pro-lifers “should be very proud of and … should highlight and should trumpet.”

What strategies have been especially effective, according to New? He said pro-life parental consent laws, restrictions on public funding, and electing pro-life advocates to office.

Despite the success of such strategies, New said his findings linking state-level pro-life legislation and advertising with reduced abortion rates are conveniently dismissed by the New York Times and the Washington Post, noting the latter avoided referencing his research in a 2005 story on declining abortion rates.

OneNewsNow.com, 3/20/07

RELIGION
Scholars back away from Jesus documentary
The documentary about the discovery of the tomb of Jesus and His family members is rapidly losing scholarly support, with some saying the film actually misquoted or misrepresented them.

The Lost Tomb of Jesus stirred up controversy when the Discovery Channel announced its theme and said it would air the documentary March 4, 2007. The film claimed that a tomb discovered in Jerusalem in 1980 was probably the burial place of Jesus Christ, his “wife” Mary Magdalene, his mother Mary and other family members.

Even in the controversy leading up to the program’s airdate, most scholars – including the archaeologist who made the initial discovery of the tomb – ridiculed the documentary’s premise.

Now, according to the Jerusalem Post, even some of the scholars interviewed for the documentary, and who appeared in the film to be in support of the film’s thesis, have publicly disagreed.

Stephen Pfann, an epigrapher at the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem, catalogued the clarifications made by the scholars in an article titled, “Cracks in the foundation: How the Lost Tomb of Jesus story is losing its scholarly support.”

www.jpost.com, 4/11/07

Unchurched nearly a third of U.S. population
In a culture where most people say they believe in God, a new survey shows that the number of those in the U.S. that are “unchurched” is approaching 100 million.

The startling numbers were put forth by The Barna Group, which conducts research that is especially focused on religious trends in American culture.

The study “reveals that one out of every three adults (33%) is classified as unchurched – meaning they have not attended a religious service of any type during the past six months,” the Barna group said in a report.

Some demographic groups were especially prone to avoiding religious services. Political liberals and single adults, for example, were much more likely to avoid church than were their counterparts – political conservatives and married adults.

“To put [the findings] in context, if the unchurched population of the United States were a nation of its own, that group would be the 11th most populated nation on earth,” the report said.

The Barna report cited a new book, Jim and Casper Go to Church, which highlights churches’ lack of outreach to the unchurched. Written by Jim Henderson, a minister, and Matt Casper, an atheist, the pair visited a dozen of the most well-known churches in the U.S. and wrote the book about their experiences as “outsiders” in the congregations.

“Some of the critical discoveries were the relative indifference of most churched Christians to unchurched people; the overt emphasis upon a personal rather than communal faith journey; the tendency of congregations to perform rituals and exercise talents rather than invite and experience the presence of God; the absence of a compelling call to action given to those who attend; and the failure to listen to dissident voices and spiritual guidance to dig deeper in one’s faith,” Barna said.

www.barna.org, 3/19/07