Letter to AFR

Here is a copy of the E-mail I sent today to American Family Radio. As many dear readers of this blog will no doubt know, I have a love/finding it hard to love relationship with AFR–because we’re not supposed to hate, are we? 🙂 I love the fact that we have a station literally in our backyard and therefore can broadcast our Sunday service live. I can also do programs on the radio, like the current “Worship 101” program.

But I find it very hard to love the Fundamentalist tone of the network. Their news, issues programs, etc., are really, really hard to take. And the music they play–don’t get me started. Suffice it to say there is a lot of really good Christian music out there these days, and maybe one of these days AFR will discover some of that good music and start playing it.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Dear Program Director and News Director of AFR:

My name is JATB (names have been abbreviated to protect the innocent). Our church , John Knox Presbyterian Church in Ruston, LA, is the host site for KAPI, FM 88.3. We have had a long and happy relationship with AFR (OK, I was trying to be nice). But I am writing you today to express how deeply troubled I am with the lack of journalistic integrity and Christian charity found in today’s newscast and on the onenewsnow.com web site.

I call your attention to the two top stories on the onenewsnow.com site:

http://www.onenewsnow.com/2007/07/evangelist_says_bible_speaks_to_potter_series_magic.php

and

http://www.onenewsnow.com/2007/07/maine_bookstore_holds_divinations.php

The second of these stories is running every hour on the AFR newscast. Both of these stories are horribly biased against the work of J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, and display a shocking ignorance of what is actually in her works.

In the first story, a Tim Todd asserts that the Harry Potter stories “promote sacrificing animals” and that they “emphasize power regardless of good and evil” both statements are patently false, and anyone who has read the books can attest that the struggle between good and evil is the central theme of them. Furthermore, there is absolutely nothing in these books that could in any way be construed to be “promoting animal sacrifice.” Mr. Todd has apparently done a little bit of wizardry himself and conjured up this “fact” out of thin air.

In the second story, a Mike Hein makes this statement:

“I see the people who are actually saying it [that there are Christian themes in the Harry Potter stories], going out on a bit of a limb, and perhaps there is some deception involved, unintentionally so, on their part,” he says. “They want so much for this negative to have a silver lining, that they’re seeing something where there really isn’t any positive overall in this series.”

I doubt if Hein has read the stories either, judging from his words. He certainly does not know much about the author, J.K. Rowling, who is a Christian, a member of the Church of Scotland (and thus a Presbyterian, like me), who said in an interview in October 2000 in the Vancouver Sun:

Interviewier: Harry, of course, is able to battle supernatural evil with supernatural forces of his own, and Rowling is quite clear that she doesn’t personally believe in that kind of magic — ”not at all.” Is she a Christian?

Rowling: ”Yes, I am,” she says. ”Which seems to offend the religious right far worse than if I said I thought there was no God. Every time I’ve been asked if I believe in God, I’ve said yes, because I do, but no one ever really has gone any more deeply into it than that, and I have to say that does suit me, because if I talk too freely about that I think the intelligent reader, whether 10 or 60, will be able to guess what’s coming in the books.”

When C.S. Lewis wrote the first book of his space trilogy, Out of the Silent Planet, he had recently become a Christian, yet the literary establishment did not know this at the time. If you go back and read the reviews of that book that came out when it was first published, not one reviewer says anything about Christian themes in the book, yet give it to any Christian today and he will find the Gospel is all over the place in it. I believe the same is true of Rowling, and she says as much in the above interview. She has not spoken much about her faith because she did not want to give away where the books were headed.

In the name of journalistic integrity, Mr. ET, whose byline is on both of these articles, should have provided balance to Mr. Hein’s inflammatory statement that those Christians who find Christian themes in Ms. Rowling’s books are “going out on a limb” and are being deceptive.

As Christians, you are guilty of violating the Ninth Commandment in bearing false witness about other believers in calling them “deceptive”, and to Ms. Rowling herself.

You also owe it to your listeners, and to yourselves, to read John Granger’s book, Looking for God in Harry Potter, published by Thomas Nelson. Mr. Granger, a Christian, examines the literary influences on Ms. Rowling (chief among them, by her own admission, are Christian authors C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien) and the myriad layers of Christian symbolism found throughout all the books.

What is frightening to me is that you tout onenewsnow.com to be “the only source you need for news.” The bias of your two lead stories today makes Fox News actually look “fair and balanced” as it claims. You can do better.

As the pastor of the local host church of KAPI, I was thoroughly embarrassed by the paranoid world view expressed by the second story when I heard it on the radio today. As Christians, we are to be people of the truth, not rumor-mongers.

Please try to listen to the voices of other Christians on such issues. Thank you.

________________________

Now, dear reader, if you agree with me that this sort of nonsense has gone on long enough, write AFR and let them know.

Have a nice day.

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About revjatb

I am a father of six who is trying to do his best! My interests are varied. I have one blog, KnowTea, that is primarily focused on liturgy and worship and another one, Bengtsson's Baking, that is about, well, baking! I hope you enjoy both of them, and if you have any questions, please contact me!
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6 Responses to Letter to AFR

  1. Rae says:

    or just have a day 😐

  2. PaulB says:

    Good job. Book 7 has the most explicit Christian imagery of all, IMO.

    Now, pardon me while I go sacrifice my neighbor’s poodle.

  3. But aren’t you just the least bit entertained by the narrow minded assertions of these folks. I listen to these radio shows just to get hacked off. It is great listening for long drives. I have been known to even pull over on the side of the road and call these shows. A few years ago, I was driving through Knoxville, and was listening to a show that was teacher bashing. I called in, and they kept me on the air for over 45 minutes. They love to stir up argument. It is like they purposely pick a radical position to stir the pot. No one wants to listen to a talk show where everyone agrees.

  4. Michelle says:

    Mark pointed me to your post! (Thanks, Mark!) Like Mark, I listen to those radio shows on long drives too. I’ve never called in, but I’ve thought about writing them. My copy of Harry Potter is on its way.

  5. Why don’t we start a campaign against bad books. Junie B. Jones is a horrible model for youngsters learning to speak, read, and write.

  6. Sara says:

    No animal sacrifice in Harry Potter? Clearly you haven’t reached the chapter in Deathly Hallows where all Hogwarts comes together for the Anti-St. Francis Day Ceremony, where everyone gathers their pets together and leads them to be slaughtered to the Great BeastMaster they dedicate themselves to when they don the Sorting Hat.

    While I don’t see the Christian imagery in any of the books, I find those who’ve decided that the supernatural veneer means they must be primers for young satanists absolutely ludicrous. Though at the same time, as a pagan I do enjoy the occasional allusion to something “real”, which is always far more veiled and complex than anything fundie Christians are expecting.

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