Mass communication has been a part of the United States since its earliest days when the print media helped educate colonists about the issues involved with the American Revolution. Its profound influence continues to this day. Each form of mass communication has its strengths and weaknesses, but all are founded on the principle of freedom of speech. The defense of freedom of speech puts the United States ahead of even most other first world countries and is a remarkable strength for our country.
Religion has used mass communications quite effectively. Most people know who Billy Graham is because of his remarkable television crusades. Religion's great strength in mass communication is that the religious experience can be brought to people who have difficulty getting out or are cut off from others for other reasons. The great risk is that it will be used dishonestly -- for instance, that funds collected will not be used the way those who donated expected they would be. Those who value the use of mass media for religious purposes must be cautious about to whom they send their money, and they would be wise to check these organizations out to see how they really use the money.
Religion has also been profoundly affected by digital technology (Buckley et. al., PAGE). One of the first major breakthroughs in communication occurred when Gutenberg produced a Bible using a printing press. Now, religious texts are available in digital format, both on the Internet and on CD's. People can access these sources and digitally search for exact texts. Many of these sources also include graphic representation of the texts as well. Those who hold firm religious beliefs may be concerned that some will be led to wrong interpretations when other people's views on religion are so easily accessed. Religious leaders holding to that view will have to educate their followers about which sites upport their religious views and which do not.
The use of print...