Cal Thomas' article (Editorial Pages, Feb. 25), "In Hollywood, Religion Is for Nerds," is one of the most irresponsible pieces of journalism I've read lately. I congratulate The Times for printing it and thus demonstrating that our media are still attempting to tell both sides of a widely debated issue. Thomas seems to forget that his Moral Majority is only one of many special interest groups in this country that seek to impose its views upon the whole population. Unfortunately for Thomas, some of us just do not believe that God has authorized the Moral Majority to speak for Him.
While Thomas is highly critical of broadcasters who hire consultants to support their "liberal tendencies," he forgets that his group has had the questionable good fortune of receiving President Reagan's endorsement. I also doubt that Hollywood's many producers consider religion more dangerous to the public than VD. Some of us may even feel that the rabid elements of the Moral Majority could become a far greater health hazard.
Like others of his ilk, Thomas would have us believe that documentaries on homosexuality and movies that make light fun of religion do not portray "reality." Really? I found the themes of "Consenting Adult" and "The Thorn Birds" to be quite honest in their perceptions of possible real-life situations. They were, unquestionably, more thought-provoking than Good Ship Lollipop adventures.
I believe the American viewing public is quite capable of exercising its right of choice to watch comedy, controversy, church or cartoons. If the Moral Majority wants the Old Time Gospel Hour at prime time, I suggest it secure high-rolling advertisers who would make it possible rather than heap scorn on movie producers.
Somehow, I believe that we'd all do better by leaving Right vs. Wrong judgments to God and concern ourselves with questions of a true/false nature. Is it true that homosexuality is a reality? Is it false that the viewing public feels that religious faith is irrelevant?
I have no idea if "Hollywood Wives" is a statement of reality; I chose to watch another channel. If it scored high in public viewing polls, we can probably blame its escapism value. We may all need regular doses before the Moral Majority is done with us.
Thomas cites several examples of how Hollywood portrays religion in a negative light and "does not think there are real people for whom faith is relevant in their everyday lives."
He uses "Consenting Adult" and "The Bill Cosby Show" as examples. Rather than convince me of Hollywood's lack of commitment to moral issues, Thomas convinces me of the Moral Majority's lack of humanitarianism. The article is typical of everything I've ever read by Moral Majority members. It is filled with bitterness, contempt, anger, disgust and racism, as well as being totally one-sided with no room for tolerance.
I can't help but wonder how these people who claim they are the conscience of our society and who rely on "religion as a guide in life" always come off sounding like they hate their fellow man?
Thomas seems to have fallen into the classic trap that all the religious sooner or later end up in. Religions are in the "truth" business, not that it seems to matter that no one can agree on what the "truth" is. Since there are numerous truths, a free and responsible media should present as many of them as possible.
In noting the TV movie, "Consenting Adult," Thomas mentioned that the movie was non-realistic in portraying homosexuals, which the film saw as sensitive and responsible adults. Perhaps Thomas is more comfortable with Hollywood's usual stereotyped interpretation of gays, most recently the murdering child molester arch-villain in "Dune," or the weak emotionally disturbed effeminates that populate "Hill Street Blues".
Hollywood has always had a bad habit of reducing various groups, including the religious, into stereotypes. That's the price of a free, out-to-make-a-buck media.
As vice president of communications for the Moral Majority, Thomas is concerned that not enough religion is on secular television. Perhaps Thomas is more interested in having programming pre-screened by Moral Majority type "advisers," who will demand ideological conformity as opposed to a real world's ambiguities. For a country that is increasingly equating television with reality, the control of this powerful medium by just one narrow religious/political group will destroy any semblance of an open and balanced press.
Marina del Rey
I also resent television's secular nature. I'd like to see programs about Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Sikhs. But that's not what Thomas is after. He makes a big show of defending "religion," but it's clear he's only grinding Christianity's ax.
His complaints against major TV networks ring especially hollow when you consider how many independent religious channels (all fundamentalist Christian) are available to any viewer who might want them. These channels don't pretend to offer a balanced view of the world. And, unlike the majors, they regularly program obvious and open attacks on philosophies and life styles of which they disapprove.
Worst of all, the author's contempt for peoples' innate goodness is obvious. He scoffs at programs where friends counsel each other. It is secular advice, which is automatically suspect in this man's eyes; he's the flip side of the very media he deplores.
He laments that his co-religionists are looked on as "weirdos and nerds," when these are folks who can't grasp evolution but do believe in the Shroud of Turin!
JEFF G.F. WATKINS
Why do you bother to print Thomas' articles? They are poorly written, not factual, and not even funny or enjoyable! His article on Hollywood and religion is typical of how he defends weak arguments through exaggeration of shallow evidence and omission of anything contrary to his judgmental generalizations.
Thomas casually overlooks the great and positive religious statements made in films like "Gandhi," "Chariots of Fire," and "The Chosen," and instead points to a made-for-teen-agers movie about some raucous Catholic school kids, mini-series soaps, and a TV movie on (gasp) homosexuality. All of this somehow makes Christians appear nerdish. Huh?
If he is so concerned about Christians appearing nerdish, he should take a good, hard look at Christian broadcasting. No one in Hollywood could dream up such a cast of characters! Piles of cotton-candy hair, plastic smiles, and stagey musical numbers. No, the "Media Christians" (as I like to call them) need no help from Hollywood in order to appear nerdish.
BRIAN P. McENTEE
It is curious why Thomas finds it intolerable that many thinking people prefer not to have their intimate, personal relationship with their Lord portrayed, stereotyped--and insulted--by having it written into television scripts. Thomas' religion may be a white hat-black hat dogma that merely informs his political activism. For many of us, however, it is a deeply emotional and personal set of experiences with the Holy Spirit that defies television casting or political pigeonholing. I suggest as a corrective that Thomas review Matthew 6:1.
DAVID L. DiLEO