Billy Hallowell on Why Christians Must Engage Secular Media, Hollywood and Academia (Interview)

Fault Line
The front cover of the 2017 book Fault Line, by Billy Hallowell. |

Faithwire senior editor Billy Hallowell is calling on devout Christians to get involved in secular information outlets like the news media, Hollywood, and the university system in his new book Fault Line: How a Seismic Shift in Culture Is Threatening Free Speech and Shaping the Next Generation.

The book, which will be released on March 7, examines the growing influence secular and liberal ideology have on the United States through the three outlets of news media, entertainment, and higher education.

A former editor at The Blaze, Hallowell told The Christian Post that an important way to counteract secular influence on American society is to be involved in mainstream information sources.

"It's so easy to dismiss people who aren't present. It becomes much harder to dismiss people who are there right next to you, working with you," said Hallowell.

"When you get to know a Christian and you get to know a conservative at a university setting, it's harder for colleagues to dismiss."

Fox News conservative social commentator Sean Hannity wrote the foreword to Fault Line, stating that the book "will take you through some of the many examples of bias in each arena, while also exposing the statistics and facts that show the impact these messages are having on the masses."

"Despite the secular and overtly liberal nature of the media, education, and Hollywood, each of us has a responsibility to educate ourselves about what's unfolding in society and who's truly controlling the message we consume," wrote Hannity.

"Fault Line also challenges conservatives and Christians alike not to retreat from these arenas, with Hallowell imploring readers to enter into these spheres as producers, actors, journalists, and professors to engage in the culture — or to take other steps to ensure their voices are heard amid the static."

In an interview with CP about his book on Friday, Hallowell shared advice he has for Christians who are answering his call to work in Hollywood, journalism, or higher education.

CP: What led you to write this book?

Hallowell: This is a book that was a long time coming. It deals with issues that I've been looking at for a long time as a journalist and as somebody who has worked in media and watched Hollywood for a long time. I had become increasingly concerned over where the public is, where culture is on a lot of issues. Just sort of looking at the transitioning and changing statistics on issues like everything from divorce to marriage down the line. And so with that, I started to think to myself, "OK, well, what's driving this? What is changing culture at such a rapid rate?" And I started to break it down.

If you're a kid and you're not going to church with your family and your family maybe isn't very solid in their views, you kind of have only three other places where you're learning. You're learning from the media, you're learning from Hollywood, and you're learning from universities. And so, that became the focal point and I started to realize, my gosh, there's like this triangular dominance going on where these three areas are impacting what we believe on a variety of topics. And so, that really led me into writing this book.

CP: Of news media, Hollywood, and universities, which of those three do you believe has been the most hostile toward Christianity?

Hallowell: Lately, I think it's been Hollywood ... because you have a lot of people who really just believe something is right and they want to present that to the public in a way that will change perspectives because they believe it's the right thing.

I would say Hollywood and I would say a close second would probably be the media. I think there's an ignorance in media. Not every reporter, but when you look across the spectrum it really seems to me that a lot of people covering mainstream news, maybe they don't know a lot of Christians, maybe they're not churchgoers themselves. There's a Pew Research Center study from 2007 that found that only 8 percent of national journalists attend church every week. And at the time, you had almost 40 percent of the public saying they attend church every week. So that's just one indicator. But it shows you that there's a disconnect in understanding Christians and conservatives, because those two groups have very, very similar complaints about the way they're represented in the media.

I would say both of those, but really it's hard because you have universities, too, right? And the way that they have treated conservative values and students over the years and Christians is also very problematic.

CP: You conclude that a big factor in the moral decline of media, entertainment, and the university system is the absence of devout Christians. What advice do you give Christians who are considering entering these secular and liberal dominated entities?

Hallowell: We spend a lot of time complaining and rightfully so, because there's bias and there's misrepresentation and it's hard to enter those areas. But at the same time, I think we've retreated because we've felt — as Christians and/or conservatives — that we've been cut out and misrepresented, we've been underrepresented and we're reacting to that by isolating and pulling out of those areas.

I would suggest that the first thing is you got to hold your values dear and make sure that you're firmly rooted in what you believe and then you got to go in.

I work for a faith-based outlet, I think faith-based movies are great, but I think we need to have a presence in these general areas as well. I teach at a college in my spare time because I want to have a presence there and because I really enjoy working with students.

So, I would say work hard at your craft and we need more people who are producers, directors, on-camera, behind the camera, professors and journalists. We need more people who are Christians in those roles and I would say, do what you would do for any other job. Prepare yourselves. Go in with firmly rooted values and have a presence and have a real solid presence. One that can help make a difference.

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