I am speaking here of both my review of God’s Warriors and the program itself. I did not finish the series until tonight, having been out of town over the weekend and the DVR failing to record the Muslim episode until Saturday night. Despite Christiane Amanpour’s assertions to the contrary, this series seems to be more of the sensational journalism that already fills our news channels. However, this is not to say that some good did not come from these programs, specifically the fact that such a significant amount of prime-time programming was focused (albeit narrowly) on the role of religion in contemporary society.
Amanpour told Larry King that she wanted to get away from the more violent images of religion in contemporary society; however, only a few minutes pass in each episode before we are encountered with images of radical, fundamentalist Christianity, Judaism, or Islam. Amanpour makes it perfectly clear that these religious folk use their beliefs to fuel their political desires and vice versa; however, she also shows that there are nonviolent members of these three faiths who also seek power yet refuse violent means to do so. The main problem here is that she does not focus on the even more peaceful elements of these three faiths who believe that faith and political power should remain separate, fueled in large part, from a Christian perspective, through God’s assertion that God’s kingdom is not of this world. Unfortunately, we do not see enough peaceful, loving Christians, Jews, or Muslims who live out their lives in quite devotion to their faith, families, and friends.
Thus, viewers not familiar with religion are presented with two rough choices, both of which involve the pursuit of political power. Non-religious channel surfers will not realize that there is a third level, if you will, of religion that involves lives of service to humanity and devotion to their faith. Moreover, those viewers who might long for more understanding of why religion motivates people like this, why these religious folks behave in this way, or other interpretations of the religious texts/beliefs that motivate this behavior. Yet, on the other hand, I am more than thankful for Amanpour’s commitment to deeper journalistic coverage of religion in contemporary culture. I only hope that this encourages further programming.