Most Media Consumers Want Hollywood to Quit Portraying Religious Leaders and Christian’s with Negative Stereotypes

A first-of-its-kind global study on faith in the entertainment industry revealed that consumers across the world want more accurate and positive displays of religion in media and believe that Hollywood perpetuates negative “stereotypes” of religious populations, among other breakthrough insights. 

In a collaborative effort with HarrisX, Faith & Media Initiative, a “nonprofit that connects and provides resources to a global, diverse network of media members, content creators, faith leaders, and community members to ensure accurate, balanced representation of all faiths in news and entertainment,” conducted a Global Faith and Entertainment Study.

The team surveyed nearly ten thousand entertainment consumers across 11 countries and conducted thirty in-depth interviews with entertainment industry leaders. 

The goal was to “understand consumers’ and decisionmakers’ perspectives on how current entertainment media treat’s themes of faith, religion and spirituality in its narratives and characters, if there is a market for more accurate and diverse representation of faith, and what opportunities exist for improving these portrayals.”

A whopping 73% of global respondents identified as “religious, spiritual, or a person of faith,” and 68% believe that “it’s important to showcase diverse religious perspectives in TV and movies.”

However, religious identity is seen as the least represented yet most sensationalized aspect of identity in entertainment. Eighty percent of respondents said they want to see the entertainment industry work to improve portrayals of faith to ensure accuracy and authenticity.

Among Americans, a staggering 69% of consumers feel that television and movies perpetuate religious stereotypes, a sentiment shared by 63% of viewers globally.

“The top reasons people care about representation are to create understanding between people of different beliefs, dispel stereotypes and prejudices, and improve their ability to freely practice and express their beliefs. Respondents in all countries agree that accurate portrayal of religion is crucial to foster global understanding,” the study reported.

“Viewers desire more positive themes – friendship, nature, family, inspiration, and faith. And they want fewer negative themes – power, war, and conflict.”

The study cited multiple explanations for religions’ exclusion and underrepresentation in Hollywood and media. One main reason is that religion is viewed as a “controversial, niche topic with a finite audience,” so it’s often “sidelined out of fear of offending and fear of financial failure.”

“Everyone is afraid of offending, so you end up getting systems that homogenize everything out of fear,” one director and producer whom the surveyors interviewed said.

“Statistically [religion] is probably underrepresented…if you make a pure statistical analysis to see how much gender, sexual orientation [are] represented. Hollywood is cautious, and they do a pretty good job. In terms of religion, I think [it] is not very much a topic they think of because unconsciously…they prefer to avoid potentially controversial topics,” a CEO speculated.

While Hollywood may fear offending and/or losing the financial backing of consumers through accurate and respectful displays of religion, others counter that Hollywood is not realizing the giant, untapped market for spiritual content.

This global, unrealized spiritual market could be attracted by creating content that has “thought provoking, diverse, and accurate portrayals of characters’ faith and spirituality,” the study argued.

“I think it creates a large audience that feels under seen, and under celebrated, which I think on the one hand is a business opportunity. But I also think it’s a moral obligation to represent society,” a director and producer said.

If the entertainment industry’s goal is to portray proportionate and accurate representations of the human experience, and if the consumer’s goal is to consume content which he/she feels he/she can project himself/herself onto, stories should reflect and expose a range of “lived faith experiences and values.”

“Not only do these opportunities signify a means to improve the bottom line, but audiences also believe that improving representation of faith and religion has the potential to bring society closer together,” the study said.

Hollywood and media producers, directors, actors and other involved individuals must open their eyes to a scene that will be financially successful: the untapped consumption desires of the faithful.

Support Christian Journalism

Freedom ​is Not Free! Free Speech is essential to a functioning Republic. The assault on honest, Christian Journalism and Media has taken a devastating toll over the last two years. Many Christian media outlets have not survived.

It is through your Generosity and Support that we are able to promote Free Speech and Safeguard our Freedoms and Liberties throughout our Communities and the Nation. Without your donations, we cannot continue to publish articles written through a Biblical worldview.

Please consider donating or subscribing today. A donation of any size makes a Big Difference. Thank you for your Support!

Katy and Fort Bend Christian Magazines

Katy and Fort Bend Christian Magazines have over fifteen years of experience in getting Christian-centered messages out to the Greater Houston area and national communities on issues of significant sociocultural and economic interest and represent the only suite of family-oriented publications of its kind in the Houston metropolitan region. As a gold standard in parachurch publications, Katy and Fort Bend Christian Magazines pride themselves on the values of enterprise, family, and truthfulness, and have helped foster a culture of fearless honesty, rigor of business and industry, and interconnected networking among the readership.