Religion and Media 2005 Abstracts

Religion and Media Interest Group

Uses and Gratifications Theory: Use of traditional Mass Media and Interpersonal Sources for Religious Information by Singaporean Muslims • Shahiraa Sahul Hameed, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, Waipeng Lee, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and Shirley Soo Yee Ho, University of Wisconsin-Madison • Abstract not available.

Asking Questions About Religion: The Effect of Survey Mode on Responses about Religious Beliefs and Behaviors in Three National Surveys • Barry A. Hollander-University of Georgia • As the use of telephone interviews has come to dominate survey research, scholars are examining theoretical explanations for why people may answer questions differently in a face-to-face versus telephone mode. One aspect of this is question sensitivity and the theory of satisficing. Using national surveys from three separate years and an experiment finds that for most religion questions this is not a factor.

Just a Novel, My Foot: A Thematic Analysis of the Catholic Response to the Best-Selling Novel The Da Vinci Code • James Arrington, Kris Boyle, Brad Clark and Caroline Rather, Brigham Young University • Using a thematic analysis, this paper examines responses published in a sample of official Catholic publications to reveal how the Church’s denominational presses responded to The Da Vinci Code. The authors identify several techniques used by respondents who informed the public of what they consider to be the truth surrounding the Church. They conclude respondents’ motives were centered on the idea that it was their duty to right the wrong and tell people the truth.

Religion, Media and ‘Passion’ • Bobbi Kay Hooper, Oklahoma State University • The purpose of this pilot study is to explore how Christian ministers utilize the secular film, “The Passion” to contribute to the social knowledge of their congregations. This study is a preliminary look into how film informs social constructions in organized religion. An intermix of interviewing, observation and document analysis was employed to illuminate the inquiry. Qualitative methods were used to identify emerging themes: “The Power of Illustrations,” “Be Cautious…” and “Spread the Word.”

Religion on Time: Religion as a Visual Construct in a Weekly News Magazine • David W. Scott and Daniel Stout, University of South Carolina • This paper suggests that the world of religion portrayed in Time magazine differs dramatically from those created within the walls of religious institutions. Christianity is the dominant subject of discourse, with special emphasis on Christian symbols in April (Easter) and December (Christmas). Also, magazine religion embraces private religious practice, is skeptical of institutions, and often co-opts religious symbols as a means of promoting entertainment, art, contemporary science.

Media, Religion and Politics in Nicaragua: How an Independent Press Threatened the Catholic Church • Kris Kodrich, Colorado State University • Nicaragua’s La Prensa stopped publishing a weekly Catholic “Sunday Reading” page in 2001, replacing it with a more diverse “Religion and Faith” page. Although this was a simple journalistic decision to better serve the readers, the controversial move also carried substantial political implications. This study applies an economic model of church-state relations to illustrate that both the newspaper and the Church acted rationally in their respective efforts to remain relevant to Nicaraguans.

Public Relations as Evangelism: A Study of Four Denominations in Los Angeles County • Louella Benson, Pepperdine University • This study explored attitudes about public relations and how four denominations in Los Angeles County use publicity tools to reach the media and their communities. Overall, participants agree that publicity is useful and necessary in spreading the church mission to the community, remaining visible in the community, and reaching potential members. The majority of those in charge of public relations are not formally trained, and publicity efforts are not particularly high-tech or aggressive.

Democratic Learning and The Sober Second Thought: The Effect of Reading John Stuart Mill’s Essay “On Liberty” on Tolerance for Free Speech Among Highly Religious, Politically Conservative Students • Sherry Baker, Quint Randle, Ed Carter and Scott Lunt, Brigham Young University • A survey (n = 349) of highly religious, politically conservative students (religiosity and political conservatism being among the highest predictors of intolerance) shows a significant statistical effect on increased tolerance (both abstract and specific) for free speech resulting from reading J.S. Mill’s essay “On Liberty” and taking a course in the history and theory of the First Amendment.

Sisters of the Spirit: Women Journalists of the A.M.E. Church • Theodore Ransaw and Gregory Borchard, University of Nevada in Las Vegas • This paper analyzes the representations and contributions of African-American women in the print media of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) between 1854 and 1913. Images of these women — cultured, outspoken, educated and political — contrasted directly with contemporary popular images of African-American women. As the AME Church simultaneously supported female journalist and education, their publications also provided the framework for the ideal African-American woman. This paper explores the realities and ideals depicted in their writings.

Internet Usage Amongst Protestants and Catholics: An application of Uses and Gratification Theory • Anita G. Day, Louisiana State University • Media scholars find the Internet a fruitful avenue of exploration as new communication technologies emerge to challenge existing notions of media use among various religious denominations. Past research indicates that religiosity is a negative predictor of traditional media use as well as the Internet. This study found similar results in Internet use among Protestants and Catholics in a statewide survey analysis even after accounting for several various demographic variables.

Religion from the Recliner? the Portrayal of Religious Values in Popular Relevision Programs • Shonna L. Tropf, Central Missouri State University • Religion has always played an important role in shaping American values. Increasingly, popular culture artifacts, television in particular, are performing many of the same value-forming functions as religion. The intersection of religion and popular culture is a place where people create ideas and meanings about their worlds. This study examines the intersection of religion and six popular television programs. The programs examined include The Sopranos, ER, Everybody Loves Raymond, Friends, Spongebob Squarepants, and Rugrats.

Church Newspaper Readership and Faith Community Integration • Douglas F. Cannon, University of Texas at Austin • Church newspaper readership is positively related to “institutional” aspects of faith community involvement: participation in church governance and tithing. But church newspaper use isn’t related to involvement in many “noninstitutional” aspects of church life. These findings from a survey of church leaders indicate that faith community involvements may be too complicated for the original community-integration hypothesis to explain. People can be active in church life without needing information about how the overall faith community functions.

Holy Humor: Characterization of Religion and Spirituality in Late Night Comic Monologues • Josh Compton, Southwest Baptist University and Brian Kaylor, University of Missouri • Late night political humor reflects a growing amalgamation of religion and politics. We analyze political religious jokes during the 2004 campaign, revealing broad themes and foci of: portrayal of religious individuals as Republican, Christian, radical, involved in conflict, ignorant, and hypocritical. We uncover how these themes emerged in the monologue jokes of Jay Leno, David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Craig Kilborn, and Jon Stewart, and then propose potential impacts of such mass mediated treatment of religion and spirituality.

Fact or Fiction: Religious Responses to The Da Vinci Code • Caitlin Anderson, Brooke Clawson, Shana Hamilton, Tahlea Jankoski and Elizabeth Stohlton, Brigham Young University • A descriptive analysis of religious responses to The Da Vinci Code from the top 10 religions in the United States was conducted. Denominational responses were found through church Web sites, church publications, Internet search engines, and personal communication. Denominational responses were compared to previous interaction with the mass as stated in Stout and Buddenbaums’ books: Religion and Mass Media: Audiences and adaptations (1996) and Religion and Popular Culture: Studies on the interaction of worldviews (2001).

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