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A random sampling

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Monitoring of the Media

OCRT volunteers listen to a variety of radio and television programs of a religious nature on an occasional basis. We also read religious books and articles from a variety of sources. We collect instances of religious hatred, ridicule, misrepresentation, misinformation etc.

Some of the programs which we cite here are produced by Fundamentalist and other Evangelical ministries. This is not intended to be an attack on conservative Christianity. It is just that:

bullet The vast majority of religious programs happen to be produced by conservative Christian groups, and
bullet Much of the religious misinformation and hatred comes from religious programs. 

Another frequent source of hatred are horror shows that sometimes disseminate misinformation on Wicca, Druidism and other Neopagan religions. 

The following are just a very small fraction of the total number of offending programs that have been broadcast. These are just ones that we happened to run across, by accident.

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Old Time Gospel Hour

Seen on Vision TV in Canada and on many stations in the US.

On 1995-JUL-20, the Kingston (ON, Canada) Whig Standard quoted a Hamilton Spectator editorial.

It described how Jerry Falwell, the driving force behind the Old Time Gospel Hour has threatened to pull his program from Canada's religious network: Vision TV. It appears that Vision TV has been censoring his discussions of homosexuality.

The Spectator quotes him as referring to gays and lesbians as "anti-family moral perverts...who want the right to violate a child of any age." and as "thieves, perverts and murderers who want to sodomize and rape and destroy [children]." They conclude that "Vision TV would be better off without Rev. Falwell and his hatred in the guise of Christianity.

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The X-Files, 1997-MAR-2

The X-Files is a fictional account of two FBI agents who attempt to uncover government conspiracies -- particularly those relating to UFOs and visits to earth of extra-terrestrial beings. It is a popular show intended for entertainment, not instruction in reality. Viewed as fiction, the programs are great fun. However,  a few episodes have attacked religious groups. Our concerns are:

bullet When the characters in the show attack Wiccans and Satanists, they may feed the existing prejudice of any viewers who are already bigoted against these groups.
bullet Some viewers may experience source amnesia: they remember a point raised during the show without remembering where they saw it. A piece of misinformation can easily be adsorbed from a fictional TV program and become part of the person's belief system.

The 1997 episode revolved around Satanic influence in a high school. There were three types of Satanists portrayed:

  1. Two male teenagers appeared to be "Satanic dabblers": they had removed a page from a library book which contained an evil curse and took two girlfriends into the woods to recite a Satanic ritual. Their motivation seemed to be to get into sexual activity with the women. Part of the way through the ritual all kinds of unusual atmospheric events occurred; one male ended up dead.
  2. A profoundly evil female high school teacher used black magic to harm and kill other people. She was apparently responsible for the death of the youth; she later caused a female high school student to die in her laboratory and took control over the minds of the third Satanic group and caused some murders.
  3. A group of high school teachers formed a Satanic group. There were references to them having once engaged in abusive, criminal acts. However, they had apparently restricted their activities recently to non-criminal Religious Satanism. They subsequently decided to return to their religious duties and engage in human sacrifice again.

Group 3 was described as an inter-generational Satanic group as described in many Satanic Ritual Abuse seminars. They involved their children in rituals, and then caused them to repress memories of the events. Later, when the children grew up, they would involve them directly in the activities of the group.

The program had many scenes in which natural physical laws were suspended and spectacular, physically impossible, events took place.

They FBI interviewed the school psychologist and found out that many of the students suffered from symptoms that were consistent with having been ritually abused and having repressed the memories.

Needless to say, the truly evil Satanist (who perhaps represents Satan) got away so that she will be able to come to a high school near you and commit more murders.

Throughout the program, people seemed to use the terms Wiccan, witch, and Satanist interchangeably, and imply that all of them engaged in criminal, abusive acts. The only reality check in the program was when one of the FBI agents gave a short soliloquy stating:
bullet a multi year FBI study (presumably by K. Lanning) showed little or no evidence of an inter-generational, abusive, underground, criminal Satanic group
bullet that Wiccans were really gentle people following an earth centered, nature based religion
bullet that Wiccan covens and the Church of Satan does not permit their members to be involved in abusive or criminal acts

Unfortunately, this short bit of reality only lasted a few seconds and may well have been lost to most viewers, since it was imbedded in a program with large numbers of dead bodies, people admitting to human sacrifice, people doing evil Satanic rituals and killing people, etc. The uninformed viewer may well come away from the program with the false beliefs that Wicca and other Neopagan religions are the same as Satanism and that all of these groups engage in human sacrifice. All in all, a rather disgusting example of religious misinformation and intolerance that will needlessly increase North American's fears and paranoia.

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The 700 Club, 1997-JUL-8

Freedom Writer magazine is published by the "Institute for First Amendment Studies." Its 1997-JUL/AUG mentioned a statement by Pat Robertson from his 700 Club program. He was discussing the possibility that UFO's have been visiting earth from far-off galaxies. He seems to have advocated that UFO believers be executed in accordance with Old Testament laws. Pat Robertson allegedly said:

  "The Bible says the Earth belongs to man, but the heavens belong to the Lord...Here is what he said to the children of Israel about this whole matter:

'If there is found among you, within any of your gates which the Lord your God gives you, a man or a woman who has been wicked in the sight of the Lord your God, in transgressing His covenant, who has gone and served other gods and worshipped them, either the sun or moon or any of the hosts of heaven which I have not commanded you, and you hear of it, then you shall inquire diligently. And if it is indeed true and certain that such an abomination has been committed in Israel, then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has committed that wicked thing, and stone to death that man or woman with stones.'" (Deuteronomy 17:2-5, NKJV)

"Now, that's what Moses said to the children of Israel about those who worship the sun and the moon and the hosts of heaven, because these things, at best, are lifeless nothings, or, if they are intelligent, they're demonic."

Apparently switching his attention to Americans who promote the existence of extra-terrestrial life, he said: 

"This is man in rebellion against God, who refuses to take God's Law. And God says, 'My covenant says you won't do this. And if I find anybody in Israel, -- which is his pure nation -- If I find anybody in Israel that's doing this sort of thing, then I want you to take him out and dispose of him.' It's a clear violation of God's word."

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The X-Files 1998-FEB-8

This episode took place in Maine, while Dana Scully was on a brief vacation. She came across a gruesome scene. Patrons in a grocery store had suddenly started attacking themselves, beating their faces and clawing at their eyes. One man killed himself by stabbing his right eye with a knife. After Scully described the scene to her partner, Fox Mulder, over the phone, the following conversation took place at about 8 minutes, 23 seconds into the program:
bullet Fox Mulder: "...It sounds like that's Witchcraft or sorcery you are looking for."
bullet Dana Scully: "No I don't think it's Witchcraft, Mulder, or sorcery. I've looked around and I don't see any evidence of anything that warrants that kind of suspicion. "
bullet Fox: "Hell. Maybe you don't know what you are looking for."
bullet Dana: "Like evidence of conjuring or the black arts or Shamanism, divination, Wicca, or any kind of Pagan or Neopagan practices, charms, cards, familiars, blood stones, hex signs, or any of the ritual tableau associated with the occult, Santeria, Vodun, Macumba or any high or low magick. "

In one sentence, Dana implied that a whole shopping list of innocent, benign religions and divination  techniques would be among the most likely groups to have caused mass hysteria and self-mutilation. The term "Witchcraft" covers a number of very different practices. Shamanism is the religious practices of some Aboriginal healer. Divination is any method of the predicting of the future, using such techniques as horoscopes, tarot cards, tea leaf reading. Wicca is a earth-based Neopagan religion which is a reconstruction of an ancient Celtic faith. In the Middle Ages and Renaissance, familiars were believed to be pets belonging to Witches that performed evil acts, and had magical powers. It is a surprise to see them referred to in a 20th century setting. Paganism are simply religions that are neither Christianity, Islam or Judaism. Neopaganism are recreations of ancient Pagan religions. The occult is simply an unrelated grouping of divination methods, religions, as different as palm reading and Wicca. Santeria, Vodun and Macumba are benign, syncretistic religions that originated in the Caribbean which are combinations of Roman Catholicism and African Native religions.

Later in the program, Dana accompanies a police officer to visit an older woman in the community, named Jane. At about 20 minutes and 21 seconds into the episode, Jane is talking about a woman whose daughter appears to be partly responsible for the outbreak of hysteria:
bullet Jane: "...Melissa Turner. That whore is a Witch as sure as I'm standing here. She is descended from the Hawthorns in Salem and the Englishes too. She comes from accursed lineage and now she is passing it on to the whelp. God save the little girl, if somebody don't [sic] do something. Lord knows I tried....Our great,  great, grand-fathers knew how to treat Witches. They would have driven the demon out of that little girl and given that slattern of a mother just what she has coming."

Jane appears to be advocating an exorcism involving physical abuse of the child, and a physical assault (perhaps lynching) of the mother. If Jane had substituted "Southern Baptist " or "Roman Catholic" for "Witch" then there would have been a great outcry by the public. But it appears to always be open season on Witches and other Neopagans in the media.

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First Wave 1999-SEP: 

First Wave is carried by the SCI-FI channel in the U.S. Some previews were broadcast in the days before the program. they commented: "Did he [the star of the show] find Pagans or aliens?" They showed what appeared to be a circle of masked Druids kicking a victim.

The episode focused almost entirely on some modern "Celtic Druids" in the U.S. Northwest. The story line involved a UFO-type alien who had been dumping chemicals on sawmill fires, thus seeding the clouds. The end result was endless rain over the area. The Druids were portrayed as performing human sacrifices in order to stop the rain

The message of the program was that Pagans in general, and Druids in particular are evil individuals who have contempt for human life and engage in ritual sacrifice of humans. This program is one more story linked to the legend of human sacrifice by ancient Druids. Druids were the professional class within the Celtic society. All historical references to their ritual murders can be traced back to a single passage in writings of one individual, Julius Caesar. But his account is of doubtful validity:

bullet The passage was not corroborated by any other contemporary historian.
bullet Julius Caesar may well have been prejudiced against the Celts because of their continual warfare with the Romans. In war, the enemy is routinely demonized. 
bullet There is only one reference to human sacrifice in Celtic literature. It it appears to be a Christian forgery. If it was part of their culture, one would expect many references in their literature. 

Some remains of executions have been found in the archaeological record, but it is not obvious whether the victims were killed during religious rituals or executed after a court trial. The ancient Celts might have engaged in ritual killing; certainly other contemporary societies did. Modern Druids, of course, do not.

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bullet The Fox network which broadcasts the X-Files has an Email address for you to send comments at:

Copyright 1996 to 2000 incl.
Latest update: 2000-JAN-12
Author: B.A. Robinson

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