A group called the Parents Television Council (PTC) recently published the results of an extensive study of how the seven commercial broadcast networks treat religion.
Their group analyzed 2,385 hours of primetime entertainment programming on ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, Pax, UPN and WB. They found 2,344 references to religion. In stark contrast to the positive attitude toward religion in the United States, the writers of television programming depicted religion in an overwhelmingly negative manner.
The references include all depictions of faith, such as the clergy, a particular church and its doctrines or the faith of an individual. NBC was the worst offender, with 9.95 negative references to every positive one. By contrast, Pax did not have a single negative portrayal.
Fox was second to NBC, with 2.4 negative depictions for every positive one. WB tied with ABC at 1.2 negative vs. one positive. UPN had one negative for every 1.1 positive. CBS had two positive depictions for every negative one.
The later the hour of television programming, the more often negative depictions of religion occurred. During the 7 p.m. viewing block, religious content was presented in a negative manner nearly 17 percent of the time. In the next hour, approximately 21 percent of the references were negative. In the 9 p.m. hour, the rate was 27.5 percent negative. And, in the 10 p.m. block, 28.2 percent of the references to religion were negative.
What is the PTC? Here is how they describe themselves on their Web site: "The Parents Television Council was founded in 1995 to ensure that children are not constantly assaulted by sex, violence and profanity on television and in other media. Our national grassroots organization has nearly one million members across the United States, and works with television producers, broadcasters, networks and sponsors in an effort to stem the flow of harmful and negative messages targeted to children... Most importantly, the PTC produces critical research and publications documenting the dramatic increase in sex, violence and profanity in entertainment. This information is provided free of charge so parents can make informed viewing choices for their own families."
They regularly post a rating for the best and worst in TV programming. You can find the PTC at www.parentstv.org/.