Prime-Time Religion: An Encyclopedia of Religious Broadcasting,by J. Gordon Melton, Phillip Charles Lucas, and Jon R. Stone (The Oryx Press, 368 pp.; $64.95, hardcover). Reviewed by John W. Kennedy.
In his introduction, Institute for the Study of American Religion founder J. Gordon Melton says that this book "attempts to fill an information vacuum by providing the first comprehensive scholarly coverage of this important sector of religious endeavor." The well-documented encyclopedia delivers on its objective.
With more than 400 entries encompassing personalities and programs, the famous and obscure, the faith-builders and the discredited, Prime-Time Religion is a valuable resource for anyone interested in Christian radio and television programs. While other books about the industry have largely dished out uncritical praise, this encyclopedia treats controversies in a forthright manner.
Evangelicals dominate religious broadcasting in the United States, and that is reflected here in a strong emphasis on evangelical personalities and ministries. Prime-Time Religion does a thorough job of covering the gamut from fundamen-talists to charismatics. Still, there are a few noteworthy omissions, such as the widely heard financial counselor Larry Burkett. Also missing are some influential figures from minority communities, such as The Urban Alternative's Tony Evans. Keeping up with changes in such an industry is a challenge. For instance, the "Faith & Values Channel" listing is already out-dated because the network changed its name to Odyssey last September.
No reference work is perfect, but this encyclopedia will be an indispensable resource. Be sure your library orders a copy.1