Television has been accepted by most Mennonites but with uneasiness caused by its images of violence, immorality, and materialism. Most recognize it as a powerful medium of communication that should be used for evangelism and Christian teaching.
The Brethren in Christ, whose General Conference had once banned photography, opted in 1951 to use education to control the negative power of television, warning its members to use television with care.
A survey of church leaders by the Mennonite weekly review in 1968 found that 68 percent in the General Conference Mennonite Church, 42 percent in the Mennonite Church (MC) and 34 percent among Mennonite Brethren approved of television. In contrast 100 percent of Amish and Church of God in Christ, Mennonite (Holdeman) leaders disapproved of television. Holdeman teaching aims to keep television, radio, and "mind-corrupting" books and periodicals, as carriers of North American culture, out of the home. Hutterites find radio and television destructive of the discipline of colony life and therefore avoid it.
Kauffman and Harder in the 1972 study of Mennonite and Brethren in Christ life found that adult church members were watching television 1.2 hours a day and 27 percent admitted that television ads influenced their buying practices. A latter study in 1989 found that 94 percent of Mennonites owned at least one television set, and almost half had VCRs. In 1976, Joe Bridges, media consultant for the United States Mennonite Brethren conference, said that the negative impact of television could be overcome "if we realize the potential of television and use it to reach people where they are."
Discussion of the use of television during the last quarter century has focused on its disciplined use. In 1961, Mennonite Broadcasts asked its people to commend the television industry for "its constructive programs in religious and educational fields and in reducing objectionable features such as hard liquor advertising" and to ask for "further steps to improve its programming." In early 1977 the Mennonite (General Conference Mennonite Church) and Gospel Herald (Mennonite Church) sponsored a series of critical articles by Larry Kehler who urged concern for "the battle between the beautiful potential of our children and the wild beast which lurks within an untamed television set."
See also Broadcasting, Radio and Television
Gospel Herald (3 January 1961): 19, (14 May 1968): 432-34, (11 June 1968): editorial, (3 November 1970): 925-26, (20 March 1973): 245, (1 March 1977): 192, (2 September 1980): 693.
Kauffman, J. Howard and Leland Harder, eds. Anabaptists Four Centuries Later: a Profile of Five Mennonite and Brethren in Christ Denominations. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1975: 123-24, 240-41 , 287-88.
Kauffman, J. Howard and Leo Driedger. The Mennonite Mosaic: Identity and Modernization. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1991: 266.
Kaufman, S. Roy. "Life Without Television." The Other Side (October 1987): 36-40.
Klippenstein, LaVerna in Christian Living (April 1987): 13.
Mennonite (18 February 1964): 110-11, (17 October 1967): 628, (30 April 1968): 320, (14 March 1972): 184.
Mennonite Weekly Review (4 April 1968): 4-6.
Weaver, Henry. Television: Friend or Foe? Focal Pamphlet Series, 8. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1962.
Wittlinger, Carlton O. Quest for Piety and Obedience: the Story of the Brethren in Christ. Nappanee, IN: Evangel Press, 1978: 347.
Cite This Article
Shelly, Maynard. "Television." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1989. Web. 21 Sep 2018. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Television&oldid=143331.
Shelly, Maynard. (1989). Television. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 21 September 2018, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Television&oldid=143331.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 877. All rights reserved.
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