MEDIA houses, like any other businesses, have to be financially solvent to survive and to make a profit. Some are serious media houses that go for the real news more than 90 per cent of the time, if not the full hundred. Some media houses publish sensational news and smut to make profit. Some publish a mixture of both.
But sensationalism and smut are not necessarily the only ways to make a large profit in the media. There are legitimate ways like what obtains in Sunday papers where there are sections to meet most if not all interests. There are other ways that some consider as appropriate, although not necessarily so.
Ninety-seven per cent of Jamaicans do not belong to the Roman Catholic Church. Any criticism of the Roman Catholic Church is therefore potential revenue to any media house in Jamaica. Giving members of the Roman Catholic Church equal time to respond means that interest will be sustained and even more revenue will be earned through advertisements.
Indeed, not responding gives the impression of being a coward who is afraid to respond. Similarly, some who have books, compact discs and so on to sell, understand this method of making money by attacking the Roman Catholic Church. One such person is David Mould, the Jamaican-born founder of the Laymen for Religious Liberty who lives in the United States of America.
I understand that a programme of Religious Hardtalk hosted by Ian Boyne on Television Jamaica (TVJ) featured David Mould on Tuesday February 19. I did not see the programme, but I imagine that what was aired is very similar to Mould's utterances every few years or so since 1990. I recall the full-page advertisements in the Gleaner entitled 'In search of the antichrist' in 1990 before Mould came in September and in November of that year. All sorts of spurious allegations were made, which were answered by others and myself.
In 1990, Alberto Romero came with Mould on the second occasion. Romero, who has paraded as an ex-priest, was never a priest but was in a minor seminary for a week. I challenged him in an open session at the then Oceana Hotel (now Ministry of Health). But what better way to draw a crowd and take up a collection than to have either an ex-priest or someone purporting to be so speaking about what it was like to be a priest?
Another strategy used by David Mould is to reveal some of his own past. In doing this, does Mould hope that no one will do any further investigations? I know that there are some people, even Seventh Day Adventists, who opine that Mould has been discredited by what they have read about him on the Internet. And part of Mould's ammunition is to surprise the opponent with information that might be incorrect. By the time it is checked out Mould is on an aeroplane out of Jamaica, having convinced his listeners that he is correct.
Many young Roman Catholics do not know of David Mould and thought that his verbal attacks on the Roman Catholic Church started earlier this month rather than at least 23 years ago. So they asked me, how is it that Mould could come on TV and say what he said and go unchallenged? I explained that in terms of challenging him, I have been there and done that. Indeed, most of my readers did not know that I was Roman Catholic until I responded to David Mould and his followers in 1990.
My current strategy is to respond to the details expressed by Mould and others like him by answering questions in Roman Catholic Church circles and to those who are not Roman Catholic but want to hear our side of the story. Some have converted to Roman Catholicism because of the attacks on the church that caused them to want to find out more. I suspect that David Mould does not mind this, as long as he is able to sell his stuff. But Mould may be disappointed that there has been no feedback to his latest diatribe.
It occurred to me to devote a column to this topic, so that even more young Roman Catholics would understand that answering David Mould makes him even wealthier. I have done this at the sacrifice of other topics. This being the last day of Black History month for this year, I had wanted to talk about the role of men in Africa and how this differs from what obtains in the west.
Hit-and-run drivers who hit down pedestrians causing their death or serious injury are arrested when caught. But there is no law against hit-and-run allegations against a church just to 'earn' some money, especially as the victims of the verbal poison are popes and bishops who might have died more than 500 years ago. What a way to make a fortune!
In his column entitled 'No alternative. Austerity. Reality' in the Sunday Gleaner of February 17, Ian Boyne wrote: "I do not like these measures. I have been hit from many angles with them. My savings have been plundered. I resent it. But ...if you are foolish enough to believe that the labourites have better talkers and samfie men to fool up the IMF to give us a better deal, I have a piece of property to sell you at King's House".
Well said, Ian! I have been on Religious Hardtalk about five times in the last 10 years and I have never been offered remuneration. In mentioning your savings being plundered, were you referring to income achieved by choosing quite legally and well within your rights, not to offer some of it to your guests on Religious Hardtalk? If that is so, to lose much of it to the new measures must indeed be heartbreaking.
As we are in the season of Lent, I offer up the attacks on my faith and my church as a way of identifying with the cross of Jesus Christ. "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs in the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you (Matthew 5:10-11).