Keeping ‘Christian TV’ Christian

Have you ever heard of a TV station dropping its most popular program? Well, it just happened in Ohio. WTLW-TV, channel 44, a full-power broadcast station in Lima, will cancel the "Rush Limbaugh" program on February 24. Is Lima a bastion of liberalism? you ask. No, it's not. Was Rush's program unpopular with WTLW viewers? No. In fact, it's the station's most popular—and profitable—program. So what prompted the decision? As station manager Robert Placie explains, "We are a Christian TV station." Now, of course, Rush Limbaugh is a solidly conservative spokesman. He's introduced millions of Americans to the conservative principles that many Christians endorse. But Placie pointed out that Rush talks mostly about politics; also that Rush spends most of his time criticizing President Clinton, and that Rush sometimes uses vulgar language to make even points that Christians often agree with. So while Rush's political principles are clearly conservative, his emphasis on politics and his sometimes off-color language do not pass muster for Christian TV. At least that's what Robert Placie of WTLW now believes. Now I enjoy Rush Limbaugh. He is a gifted man, and his contributions to the long-overdue conservative "revolution" in America are impossible to overstate. But I say, "Hallelujah for WTLW!" You see, we Christians need to remember who and what Rush Limbaugh is: He is an immensely entertaining political commentator, but he is not a biblical prophet. And it's high time we reminded ourselves that politics and faith don't always overlap. Now don't get me wrong. I'm a lifelong conservative Republican. I'm also a Christian, and a conservative one. I watch a lot of Christian TV, and listen to a lot of Christian radio. And I've become offended by—and worried about—the overtly political tone and content of much of what passes for Christian broadcasting. And, specifically, I'm distressed by the sometimes very un-Christian attacks on the president of the United States. Do I mean that we shouldn't criticize President Clinton when he promotes pro-abortion policies or personnel, virtually advocates homosexuality, or misbehaves in his personal conduct? No, I don't mean that. Clinton needs to be challenged, and I've challenged him myself. And I'll continue to do so when he says "in your face" to evangelicals as he did with the Foster nomination. But there's a clear distinction between political commentary and prophetic criticism. And too many programs on stations that describe themselves as Christian have lost sight of this distinction. What's more, mixing up politics and our faith is counterproductive. It leaves us open to the charge that we're right-wing political zealots who mistake the Bible for the GOP's "Contract with America." So I suggest you call Robert Placie at WTLW-TV and tell him you applaud the courage of his convictions. He's made a costly decision to keep Christian TV Christian. And he's reminded us that Christians need to be civil—even when challenging politicians or policies we oppose.


Chuck Colson


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