Friday, July 12, 2013

'Faith illiteracy' at the BBC?

Krish Kandiah, Christian author, pastor and lecturer, complains of a lack of faith literacy among BBC researchers and sometimes BBC journalists.

Told by a researcher that they were "doing a special on the Bible" and wanted someone who believed the Bible was true to put opposite someone who thought it wasn't, he asked the researcher a basic question about which parts of the Bible she had read. She said she had never read the Bible. This, he says, is inadequate for a researcher on a religious programme about the Bible.

I mention this because the BBC has just published a new report on the breadth of opinion reflected in its output in key areas, including its treatment of religion.

Peter Hitchens says "The BBC does implicitly take a side on whether Britain is a Christan country - that it is not a Christian country and should be multicultural. Both Christianity and Islam are statements of opinion with which anyone is entitled to disagree, but on Radio 4's Sunday programme, Islam gets a free ride compared to the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, which are endlessly bombarded on that programme with stories about paedophilia, homosexuality and women priests."

BBC presenter Roger Bolton says "If a Christian is interviewed by the BBC about their objections to abortion on religious grounds, they are treated as though they are just a bit barmy."

Theologian Robert Beckford says "Worship is not aimed at or structured around the dominance of black Pentecostalism. More black people go to church in central London than any other ethnic group."

Replying to secularists' arguments that the BBC spends too much time on religious programmes, the BBC's Christine Morgan says more and more young people are interested in religion whether or not they are religious, because it is arguable that they cannot understand the modern world unless they understand religion.

The report is largely favourable. It says "The BBC's services of worship, news and analysis produced by its Religion and Ethics team is comprehensive and impressive. I found no convincing evidence that voices which could and should have been heard had not been heard,  and no convincing evidence that the BBC had not reflected an appropriate balance between different religions"


"BBC journalists  need. . .  to examine their own assumptions about 'shared consensus' before embarking on interviews involving deeply held beliefs."

There is intelligent comment on the report at God and Politics' blog. It says if the BBC is to remain a credible broadcaster it needs to work hard to keep the trust of its audiences, and treating those who hold religious beliefs with respect is integral to that.

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