Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Oprahism - The New Religion?
As I was driving back from the hospital this afternoon, I heard a preacher on the radio claim that Oprah Winfrey reaches more people through her TV program than any known minister today. She is viewed by some as a new Billy Graham, in terms of her spiritual influence on the masses. I didn't realize that her spiritual influence was so great. The preacher also noted that her theological orientation is certainly anything but classical Christianity. It would appear that she has more in common with the Unity school of thought with the idea of the "god within" versus the God of Scripture.
On Wikipedia, one reads the following regarding Oprah's spiritual influence:
In 2002, Christianity Today published an article called "The Church of O" in which they concluded that Winfrey had emerged as an influential spiritual leader. "Since 1994, when she abandoned traditional talk-show fare for more edifying content, and 1998, when she began 'Change Your Life TV', Oprah's most significant role has become that of spiritual leader. To her audience of more than 22 million mostly female viewers, she has become a postmodern priestess—an icon of church-free spirituality." The sentiment was seconded by Marcia Z. Nelson in her book The Gospel According to Oprah. On the season premier of Winfrey's 13th season Rosanne Barr told Winfrey "you're the African Mother Goddess of us all" inspiring much enthusiasm from the studio audience. The animated series Futurama alluded to her spiritual influence by suggesting that, a thousand years from now, a religion known as "Oprahism" exists [The entire article on Ophrah is located here.]
Terry Matingly on the blog ReligionNewsblog.com has an informative article entitled "Just What are Oprah Winfrey's Core Beliefs?" Oprah fits the postmodern, self-help, therapeutic society very well. Matingly notes that:
One of the fastest growing segments of the population consists of people who call themselves “spiritual,” but not “religious,” noted Nelson. Winfrey clicks with media-driven, postmodern believers who stress the importance of personal experience and storytelling over the authority of religious institutions and doctrines. Meanwhile, many churches are trying to shed old names and labels, calling themselves “community churches” and adopting other post-denominational names.
And why is this important for most of us to be concerned about? Like it or not many who sit in the pew on Sunday listen to Oprah religiously during the week. As with so many other influences robbing the attention of our people, Oprah may indeed be undoing our work before we realize it. While we are busy dissecting the theologies of various other religious leaders, might it be time that we start explaining to our people why "Oprahism" is dangerous to their faith?