Select Committee on BBC Charter Review Written Evidence

Memorandum by M Henderson

Do different faiths (including no faith beliefs) figure sufficiently in BBC programmes and services?

  I was surprised to see this question as I cannot remember the last time the "no faith belief" figured AT ALL in BBC programmes. Religion and morality are mistakenly deemed to be synonymous.


  1.  When considering questions of morality perhaps as well as Bishops and church representatives, the British Humanist Association should be consulted.

  2.  Secular or Humanist representatives should be given as much representation as theists on opinion programmes such as Question Time and Any Questions and, when the topics justify it, Beyond Belief.

  3.  Secular voices should be given proportionate representation on Thought for the Day and similar slots.

  4.  If the theists continue to be given programmes devoted entirely to an expression of their beliefs (such as Songs of Praise, and The Daily Service,) then time should be set aside for the Humanist/Secular movements to communicate with their present and potential supporters.

  5.  Most Britons come from a generation which was force fed a biased view of Christianity from Church and Church schools. When broadcasting to adults, instead of discussing the basis for religious belief and religious books with an assumption that close inspection of the premise for these beliefs might offend certain groups, a thorough investigation of exactly what belief is (and how it fits in with opposing beliefs) should be undertaken. The rather shaky evidence for a historical Jesus, and the true origins of the Bible should be considered if the BBC intend to present a balanced and educational function.

How should faiths be represented in BBC programmes, services and governance?

  1.  They should be represented from the same perspective as, for instance, politicians. When they make a statement it should be subjected to rigorous scrutiny. If non-faith moral perspectives are questioned, then so should faith positions. Because their position is based on historical texts, this should not give them immunity form close examination. If religion were an optional device, perhaps it would be acceptable to ignore its more questionable dogma, but it is not. Non elected theologians have special status in the EU, and automatic entry to the House of Lords. Compulsory daily acts of worship exist in our schools, and evangelicals have been given the running "inperpetuity" of some of our Academies. For these reasons their contributions to BBC programming should be balanced by non-religious views and given the same scrutiny.

20 August 2005

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