Rasa - The first case in explanation of the religion and media is the recognition of the essence, features, potentials and capabilities, intellectual/knowledge history of the media, the relation/s between the media, Western culture and liberal ideology, media and secularism essence and the cultural issues. The present paper examines the functions of the media, the approaches commensurate with the field of media, religion and the religious areas falling within the category of the religious media.
The axial question around the media and religion is that “whether should the media be considered as a Heavenly and religious tool or is it secular and non-religious in essence?”
The Relation/s between Religion and Media
As no proper research has been conducted in this regard, media and religion have been studied separately up to now, and the analysis of the relation between communications (media) and modernity is carried out based on three approaches of national relations, utilitarianism and structuralism. Many of the existing theories on the relation of the religion and media have become oriented towards “media religion”, or in a positivist manner, they have attempted to explain that each of the said factors are a tool serving the other. The religious media stresses that the media doesn’t solely serve the religion, and similarly, the technology of the media can’t lower the religion down to a message.
Thereby, media can’t be regarded a secondary phenomenon, as the religion can’t be considered biased. The first issue in elaboration on religion and media is the recognition of the essence, features, potentials and capabilities, intellectual/knowledge history of the media, the relation/s between the media, Western culture and liberal ideology, media and secularism essence and the cultural issues. The present paper examines the functions of the media, the approaches commensurate with the field of media, religion and the religious areas falling within the category of the religious media.
Seven assumptions about the relation between the religion and media
Explanation and analysis of the relation between religion and media is a highly challenging issue within the field of religious media. The said challenges have been so vast that no agreement have been reached upon any of them based on the principles of religion, its areas and domains. No consensus have been reached over the combination of the “religious media”, in which media dominates the religion, or over the vice versa. Therefore I believe that it is impossible to talk about this theory without having some logical assumptions. Seven assumptions are required for the statement of the problem:
1. Despite the existing differences and arguments, the author chooses the phrase “religious media” and the purpose beyond this selection is the eventual function of the religion on the space of the media.
2. The difference between two expressions of the “religious media” and the “media religion” requires the author to emphasize that in this research, the second expression is not meant concerning the relation between the religion and media unless it is explicitly used for making a difference.
What is meant here by religious media is the interactive relation existing between two fields, though the media religion stresses lowering the areas of the religion and expansion of the field of the media. Moreover, the media religion, with its TV evangelism is more commensurate with Protestantism rather than with what is nowadays emphasized on as the part of the religion in changing the essence of the media.
3. What is meant here by the term “religion” is solely the religion of Islam. The present work is not to examine the relation between other Heavenly or human religions and media. However, the examination of the relation between the religion, as a general concept, and media, as a general factor, can be conducted from another approach.
4. All the aspects and domain of the religion are not meant here. In the religious media approach, a single-aspect view is not meant; as it is commonly seen in many religious media. Generally, by religion here, a belief, epistemological, moral, social and canonical faith is meant.
5. Media have a broad meaning. Many of the modern research are focused on the religious cinema and analysis of the religious movies, as many phenomena newly rose on the media and their relations with religion and ethics are being studied. The present research is solely focused on radio and TV, and specifically on TV, and assess the relation of these two media with the religion.
6. On a religious media, all four functions of media are meant, they include notification and interpretation, entertainment and education and finally, treatment and guidance. Many religious media only perform the function of treatment and maximum of education. Nonetheless, the function that generates the biggest difference between media and religion is the entertainment. The question that raises in this regard is that whether religion can stand the vulgar and even non-vulgar entertainments?
7. The main approach of the author, that forms the foundation of the analysis on the religious media, is the theory of utilitarianism. I believe that this approach has not much been studied up to now.
According to the aforementioned assumptions, we attempt to explore the issue of the religious media on three basic axes through three fundamental questions:
1. what is the proper meaning of the religion and media?
2. What is the nature of the religious media?
3. What are reasons of the advocate and opponents of the religious media?
Definition of the Religious Media
Belief in the essence is the feature shared by both the media and religion. Our previous question was “is it possible to separate the secular and Western essence from the media?” At this point, a question raises, “when the essence is removed from the religious media, accordingly, should we believe in the end of the essence of the religion?” Wilfred Cantwell Smith, in his book titled “Meaning and End of the Religion” talks on the removal of the essence from religion”. These theories were then expanded through the thought of John Hick on religious pluralism, and a new theory was eventually proposed. Smith believes that the denial of the religion’s belief in essence is based on some conditions, therefore, if we remove the essence from religion, we should believe in a factor called “religious status”.
Aunt De Verice, in a paper on the media, world religion, general areas, and etc., writes: For a long time, the issue of religion was muted or neglected in social fields such as media, however, now the relations between the new media technology and the phenomenon of the religion and its return to the contemporary world is being regarded as a significantly political factor across the whole world. However, as no proper research has been conducted in this regard, two areas of media and religion are still studied separately. Many of the existing theories on the relation/s of the religion and media have become oriented towards “media religion”, or in a positivist manner, they have attempted to explain that each of the said factors are a tool serving the other. The religious media stresses that the media doesn’t solely serve the religion, and similarly, the technology of the media can’t lower the religion down to a message. Thereby, media can’t be regarded a secondary phenomenon, as the religion can’t be considered biased.
The Religious Function of the Media
For the first time in the West, Derrida, regardless of the Evangelist TV phenomenon of the Protestants in the US, considered that there is a relation between the religion and media. In his book “Faith and Knowledge”, Derrida mentions that the religion and media should be studied together and not separately from each other. According to him, any research on religion can influence the understanding of media and vice versa. He openly emphasizes the essential relation between media and religion, and believes that the change to the severity of this relation can modify the essence and structure of the media technology.
The religious functions that the media played during the era when Islam and Christianity rose, are some convincing evidence proving the existence of some links between the religion and media. The religious media, as a media is sometimes expected to transfer the religious message maintaining the conditions and requirements of the media, and sometimes, the change into the structure and content of the means of transfer is meant and the media isn’t considered as a transmitter. In such a situation, the function of the media and tools becomes religious, and the media is separated from its secular and Western essence and is logically and properly linked to the religion. Although the religious media should follow the utilitarian theory, the utilitarian view is an important turn in the media approaches and has got the first position concerning the religious media.
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