The flood of pornographic materials that threatens to inundate our society is of great concern to those interested in the moral health of our civilization. It is a source of anguish to sensitive religious writers, particularly those concerned primarily with the freedom of the press. All religious journalism has a stake in the public reaction to an industry that apparently feels no social responsibility. The increase in the production and distribution of porno is compelling much soul-searching and much revision of attitudes.

Evangelical journalism has tended to take the middle ground in this respect. Its spokesmen have not been unaware of the problem of balancing freedom of the press against the possible impact upon our society of a flood of pornographic sludge. Most responsible evangelical journalists have refused to accept extreme positions, such as that which asserts an immediate cause-and-effect relation between pornographic literature and the growing rate of sexual crimes. The record here, in my opinion, has on the whole been creditable.

Liberal religious journalism has tended to pursue more closely the line dictated by general culture. Its guiding star has been the fear that any attempt to control the spread of pornography would lead to censorship. The tendency at this point has been to regard the First Amendment as absolute, permissive of no legal strictures at all. The fear has been that once any form of censorship is tolerated, very soon any unpopular point of view may be suppressed.

Liberal religious thinkers tend to believe that in the long run public taste and general good sense will prevail, and that only patience is required. Self-expression is regarded as a primary good, and therefore few if any forms of self-expression ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.

Tags:
Issue: