The Easter Hit Parade (a summary)

Christians and Jews are accustomed to cultural elites trying to undermine their religious faith during Lent, Passover and Easter – but it's never been as bad as this year. 

Beginning on February 26, the news and entertainment media have fired a stunning barrage of criticism at religious beliefs, religious practice, and religious symbols.  Nothing is too sacred to attack this year, not even the most crucial teachings of Judaism and Christianity.

On Easter Sunday, the History Channel will question whether the Bible is God's genuine revelation to mankind. The current – Holy Week – issue of Newsweek teases readers with the headline “Is God Real?,” and features a debate between a prominent evangelical pastor and an outspoken atheist. National Public Radio also carried an atheist/Christian debate.  An April 3 New York Times article dismisses the story of Moses parting the Red Sea as a “myth.”  Newsweek's March 19 cover story, “The Evolution Revolution,” showcases the latest evolutionary theories attempting to explain the development of humanity without God. A March 4 New York Times Magazine piece, “Darwin's God,” describes religious belief as “an outgrowth of brain architecture that evolved during early human history.”  The arts world has mocked Jesus with a life-sized, nude, anatomically correct sculpture made of chocolate, reducing Him to the level of the Easter Bunny. On March 4, the Discovery Channel took the prize.  Discovery aired a documentary, “The Lost Tomb of Jesus,” that claims to have disproved the foundational belief of Christianity: that Jesus rose from the dead.

This year's Easter “Hit” Parade began just five days after the beginning of Lent, at a February 26 press conference.  Hollywood über-director James Cameron and Emmy Award-winning director Simcha Jacobovici announced to the world that they have found Jesus' remains, thereby knocking the central pillar out from under the Christian edifice.  As the apostle Paul wrote, “if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!”   (1 Corinthians 15:17).  Cameron's and Jacobovici's conclusions were quickly shredded by a phalanx of Jewish, Christian and secular scholars, but the media's Easter “Hit” Parade marched on.

The Washington Post chose to question the Resurrection in a March 31 story, “A Debate for the Millennia: Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?”  The story, by Daniel Burke of Religion News Service, quotes expert witnesses on both sides of the debate, but fairness and balance isn't the issue.  The real issue is why the Post decided to raise this particular subject just before the beginning of Holy Week. 

Also on March 31, a New York Times story suggested that a “secret” gospel of Mark may describe “Jesus initiating his disciples” with a “homosexual rite.” The text, which may be a hoax, was supposedly found in 1958.  The discoverer or hoaxer, Columbia historian Morton Smith, wrote a book about it in 1973, and three other authors wrote books about Smith's work in 2005.   Reporter Peter Steinfels never explains why the story suddenly became newsworthy on the eve of Holy Week, 2007.  

On April 4, author Susan Jacoby posted a column on the Newsweek/Washington Post Web site, asserting “You either believe that Jesus rose from the dead or you don't. The proposition is not subject to any kind of natural proof.” However, the Resurrection is subject to historical evidence, such as the eyewitness accounts recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.   Belief in the Resurrection is not based on blind faith, as Jacoby suggests.

The news and entertainment media routinely take shots at religious faith every Easter season.  Honest questioning of all beliefs, sacred or secular, is commendable.   How else are we to know whether our beliefs are true?  However, the media largely ignore religious doctrine most of the year.  The challenges usually come during the holiest seasons, and the timing of these often scurrilous attacks on faith displays a profound hostility toward both God and the faithful. Expect the Easter “Hit” Parade to continue.  

Brian Fitzpatrick is senior editor at the Culture and Media Institute (, a division of the Media Research Center.

The full-length study is available here.