Memorandum by L Donaldson
I understand that you are seeking answers to
two specific questions relating to "faith" and the BBC.
QuestionDo different faiths (including
no faith beliefs) figure sufficiently in BBC programmes and services?
Answer"Faith" is grotesquely
over-represented in every powerhouse of societytheir Lordships'
House being an obvious example. Religion gained power, over thousands
of years, by fighting for it. This fight continues this very daythe
Vatican is actively campaigning, lobbying and bullying for greater
influence in the institutions of the EU In our modern world, powerhouses,
including the BBC, need to be protected from religion's warring
factions and would-be leaders.
The BBC is already religion-heavy, to the detriment
of important areas such as ethics and spirituality. The BBC's
Department of Religion and Ethics is a misnomerit's all
"religion"? and no pure "ethics"only
"religious ethics". I have spent the last hour scouring
the Religion and Ethics website and can find no article or discussion
of ethics that is free of religion. (There is great mention of
"pagans"maybe the BBC think that non-believers
fall into this categorywe're worshiping the moon and the
stars, or the mushrooms and the rainyet to be converted.)
The department's flagship broadcasting slot,
Thought for the Day on Radio 4, probably has more listeners
than all other religious programming put togetherthanks
to its timing. Yet there has never been a contributor with "no
faith beliefs"the words in your question. Free "thought"
has been banned despite repeated requests for access to Thought
for the Day by various non-religious groups.
Faith-free people are, at best, ignored by the
department but there are examples of programming, such as Beyond
Belief on Radio 4, that actively mock and belittle non-believers
and secularists. Is there a programme that actively mocks and
belittles Muslims or Jews?
QuestionHow should faiths be represented
in BBC programmes, services and governance?
AnswerI am utterly astounded that, in
2005, you even consider that "faiths" could be represented
in the governance of the BBC. The BBC is, in my view, the most
important cultural institution in the UK We do not expect, let
alone "require", lesser cultural bodies, say the National
Theatre or the Tate, to carry religious messages. Similarly we
do not insist that such bodies have a specified number of religious
The BBC is also one of the greatest gatherers
and disseminators of news. Looking at those cranky religious broadcasters
in the United States, what level-headed European could respect
any "news" pumped-out by such organisations? BBC News
needs robust protection from all outside influences, including
The BBC has an important role to play in covering
topics that are ignored, for commercial reasons, by other broadcasters.
I think and feel that the various strands of religion can continue
to be catered forbut with only the same degree of commitment
as, say, jazz or poetry.
10 October 2005