David Robertson explains why he believes the BBC should resist pressure to increase their coverage of other religions such as Islam
The BBC are suggesting that they’re going to increase their coverage of other religions, after complaints that it was too Christian.
The aim is to have more coverage of Islam, Hinduism and other faiths. Aaquil Ahmed, the former head of religion and ethics at the BBC told a parliamentary committee: “Christianity remains the cornerstone of our output and there are more hours dedicated to it than there are to other faiths”.
Within the parameters of modern British liberalism this seems so obvious. It has been suggested that the BBC could for example televise Friday prayers from a mosque – thus we would end up with the situation where the BBC would be broadcasting the Islamic call to prayer. What’s wrong with that idea? Who could object to the idea that there should be equal and proportionate treatment of all religions on the BBC? Me. And many others. Not because we hate Muslims. We don’t. We love Muslims, welcome them to this country and because we love them so much we want to introduce Jesus to them. We are not white British supremacists who think that only ‘British’ values are worthy of broadcasting.
Nor do we think Islam should be banned and freedom of religion should not apply to Islam. In fact precisely the opposite. It is because we want to preserve freedom of religion that we want to retain Britain’s Christian tradition.
The statement that there are more hours dedicated to Christianity than any other faith is true – but it should be true! There are 3 million Muslims in the UK – around 4.5% of the population. This is projected to rise to around 11% by 2030. However the number of Christians is at 64% although projected to decline to 45%. The other faiths are much smaller. Therefore it is only logical that Christianity remains the predominant faith.
The BBC is obliged by its charter to produce 110 hours of religious broadcasting each year. That is around two per week. If we were to divide this proportionately Islam would receive around 10 hours per year – that’s around 12 minutes per week.
Britain is a Christian country
But there is an even more important objection. The BBC is the British state broadcaster. It is funded by the British state. And Britain is a Christian country. Our constitution is Christian. Our history is Christian. Our legal, education, health and welfare systems are based on Christian principles. The BBC itself was founded on Christian principles – its motto comes from the biblical books of Hosea, Isaiah and Philippians.
Above broadcasting house there is this motto:
“This Temple of the Arts and Muses is dedicated to Almighty God by the first Governors of Broadcasting House in the year 1931, Sir John Reith being Director-General. It is their prayer that good seed sown may bring forth a good harvest, that all things hostile to peace or purity may be banished from this house, and that the people, inclining their ear to whatsoever things are beautiful and honest and of good report, may tread the path of wisdom and uprightness.”
It is because we want to preserve freedom of religion that we want to retain Britain’s Christian tradition.
Now of course things change. And my friends in the various secular societies will be having heart attacks even reading this. They argue we are no longer a Christian country. We are a secular society. And therefore we are religiously neutral and if there is religious broadcasting at all it should be historical, educational and critical but certainly not religious worship/propaganda and indoctrination.
The trouble is that secularism in that sense is not neutral. The BBC has unquestionably become secular but no-one would seriously argue that it is neutral about moral issues. In fact it is one of the prime promoters of the secularist values of the liberal elites that many in the US, Europe and the UK are now turning against.
I was once asked to give a thought for the day on BBC Radio Scotland and was told that I could not mention the phrase ‘Britain’s Christian values’ because it would be offensive to some. As a result I was banned from speaking! This fascinating article has some insights into how the BBC really treats Christians.
Another objection I have is that there will be unfair treatment. While Christianity continues to be regularly mocked, debunked and critically analysed on the BBC, it is highly unlikely that this would ever happen to Islam on the BBC. Why? Because, apart from the threat of physical violence if Mohammed is blasphemed, and the political and economic repercussions from rich Islamic states, the BBC tends to regard Islam as a race and therefore sees any criticism of Islam as being Islamaphobic and racist. It has no such problem with Christaphobia.
Perhaps we should have more Islam on the BBC? But only if it is subjected to the same critical scrutiny that is given to Christianity and if the de facto ban on those Christians who actually believe the Bible is lifted! I guess that is my major concern.
My fear as well is that we just end up with liberal propaganda, using religion as the excuse. And so for example we are informed that it would be good to have a programme about how many Jews were saved by Muslims during the Holocaust. Indeed it would. But that should not be at the expense of pointing out how much the Nazis were supported and inspired by many Muslim leaders. Or that the annihilation of Israel is still a cardinal belief for many Muslims. Even to mention such would be considered a hate crime.
The BBC are going to end up creating this make-believe world of religions, where their philosophy that all are essentially the same and all lead to one world peace/religion etc is the only philosophy allowed.
Free to worship
My concern is not with Islamic prayers being shown on TV. My concern is that, in pursuit of its liberal amorphous view of religion and using it to promote liberal secular values, the BBC will neuter any effective portrayal of biblical Christianity and end up promoting a religion that will undermine the traditional Christian ethos of this country. If you are an atheistic secularist and wonder why that matters – just answer this question: How many countries where Islam is the predominant system, allow freedom of religion, freedom to change one’s religion and freedom to be an atheist?
In pursuit of its liberal amorphous view of religion, the BBC will neuter any effective portrayal of biblical Christianity
Of course the liberals think they can control things and create a more Western, secular version of Islam. I suspect they will be as successful in that as they have been in seeking to bring democracy to the Middle East through war! But by the time they realise they have failed it will be too late.
Muslims should be free to broadcast and air their call to prayer on private and independent TV stations. But the BBC, as the state broadcaster of a Christian nation, should not be promoting, at tax payers expense, a religion which will fundamentally undermine the basic Christian values of our nation.