WASHINGTON, D.C., MAY 8, 2003 (Zenit.org).- A study by an evangelical Christian organization shows new — and for some, troublesome — trends in how people encounter Christianity through the media.
The Washington Times reported that the number of U.S. adults who encountered Christianity through mass media was more than the number who encountered it through organized religious gatherings.
According to the study, 141 million Americans experienced Christianity last year through various forms of mass media such as books, movies and television, while 132 million people attended organized Christian services.
The study, conducted by the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), reported that 52% of the nation’s adults listened to Christian music or other programming on the radio, while 43% watched Christian TV programming. Among evangelical Christians, 96% counted themselves in the regular Christian TV or radio audience.
A representative for the 1,700-member NRB said the difference in numbers between people consuming Christian media and actually attending Christian religious services is “a wake-up call” for both congregations and producers of such media, the Washington Times said.
The survey, conducted by California-based Barna Research Group, also found that 25% of people who describe themselves as atheists, agnostic or non-Christians “had some degree of exposure to Christianity through the media.”
In other studies, Barna found that Catholics tend to encounter their religion less through media than through Mass attendance and other activities. Of those that listen to Christian radio, only 10% were Catholic while 75% described themselves as Protestants.
Likewise, 41% of Protestant teens purchased a Christian book in the past year while only 25% of Catholic teens indicated they had done the same. For adults, the figures were similar, as 43% of Protestant adults and 32% of Catholic adults made Christian book purchases in the last year.