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