Is Church Or The NFL More Popular On Sundays?

Mark Tapscott Executive Editor, Chief of Investigative Group
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Is the Mainstream Media absolutely, completely out of touch with heartland America? It may seem like an odd approach, but one way to answer this familiar question is to ask if more Americans go to church or watch televised football games on any given Sunday.

Check out the National Football League’s web site and its “2015 Regular Season TV Ratings Recap.” On the NFL’s best Sunday during the just-completed regular season, an estimated 29.4 million Americans watched the Seattle Seahawks play the Dallas Cowboys on the first day of November.

The league’s best day overall during the regular season was the Thanksgiving Day match of the Cowboys and the Carolina Panthers, which drew 32.5 million views. The third best game was Dec. 13 when 28.9 million watched the Cowboys and Green Bay Packers.

The Sunday afternoon games broadcast by CBS and Fox averaged 19.1 and 21.7 million viewers each, respectively, while NBC’s Sunday night games averaged 22.5 million viewers. Those numbers were the second highest ever for Fox and the highest ever for NBC’s Sunday evening games.

How do America’s churches compare? The Gallup Poll most recently surveyed weekly church attendance in 2014 and found that 39 percent of its respondents said they were in the pews the previous Sunday. That means about 125 million Americans attended church on Sunday.

But there are questions about the accuracy of the Gallup figure and, at least among Millennials, church attendance seems to be declining, so let’s cut that 125 million by a quarter to 93.7 million. That’s still roughly three times as many churchgoers as NFL watchers.

There are of course many folks who go to church and then head home to watch football. My guess is that a lot of those folks (my family included) who went to Sunday services also spent hours later in the day in front of the idiot box watching referees throw penalty flags on every other play.

But what’s all this got to do with whether the MSM is out of touch with most Americans? Stay with me here. The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway has a keen eye for examples of abject theological ignorance in the New York Times, Washington Post and other MSM pillars.

She was, for example, amazed earlier this week when, during a CNN talkfest, Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker claimed Sen. Ted Cruz said “it’s time for the body of Christ to rise up and support me.”

What Cruz actually said was this: “If we awaken and energize the body of Christ – if Christians and people of faith come out and vote our values – we will win and we will turn the country around.”

I know nothing about Parker’s faith or lack thereof, but her comment that she knows nobody “who would think that Jesus should rise from the grave and resurrect himself to serve Ted Cruz” sounds like she assumed the Lord’s physical body was still in the grave and that the Texas senator did as well.

Parker would not be alone among media figures in thinking that, as was seen Sept. 16, 2014, when the Times reported on the “Holy Sepulcher marking the site where many Christians believe that Jesus is buried …”

As Hemingway and others noted, somebody hastily pointed out to the Times that Christians do not believe Jesus is buried there, but rather that He was buried there, then left an empty tomb three days later when He was resurrected. A Times copy editor at that point corrected the “is” to “was.”

Merely a minor copy-editing mistake perhaps, but newsrooms in places like Manhattan, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles tend to reflect the general knowledge and attitudes prevalent among the nation’s cultural and political elites.

To be so casual with the fundamental Christian doctrine suggests a woeful ignorance of the faith that motivates millions of Americans to attend church on Sunday to worship the one they believe to be the risen Lord and their savior for all eternity.

Such episodes also remind us of the most basic issue posed by this Jesus. Nobody doubts that He was crucified dead and buried — for blasphemy, i.e. claiming to be God — but was He really resurrected three days later? It was only a few weeks thereafter that Peter and the disciples put Jerusalem into an uproar on the Day of Pentecost by claiming He was alive.

If that was a lie, the enemies of Jesus would have rolled His rotting corpse down Main Street. They couldn’t because the body was nowhere to be found. That fact doesn’t by itself “prove” the resurrection, but then how do MSM folks account for the missing body?

Mark Tapscott is executive editor of the Daily Caller News Foundation.