Supplementary evidence from Senior Members
of Faith Communities
Following the appearance of senior members of
faith communities before your committee on Wednesday, I undertook
to send you further information. I hope it will assist the committee
to have this information about the numbers of adherents and worshippers.
The Census gives the following:
|All no religion/not stated1||13,626
In terms of attendance, the UK population attending Church
on Sundays is just under 4 million.
In the Church of England there are 1.7 million worshippers
a month attending services across the week (just over one million
on an average Sunday). Attendances rose 1 per cent overall in
2003, the last year in which published statistics are available.
Across all faiths, one in four adults attend a service of
worship once a month or more.
The majority but not all of these will be Christian.
Towards the end of the giving of our evidence we were asked
about worship on television. I would like to offer the following
to assist the committee over this matter as I consider the continued
inclusion of such programmes within the specialist portion of
the BBC's output is required.
Whilst it must be acknowledged, as it was by the panel, that
worship is often better on radio than on TV, this is not because
of any intrinsic reason to do with differences between these mediums.
As was said during the oral evidence, considerably more skill
is required to "bring off" the broadcast of worship
on television, conveying the sense of awe and transcendence that
taking part in person can bring. The venue can also influence
the quality of a television audience's experience. This goes some
of the way towards explaining why broadcasts such as Tuesday's
from St Paul's Cathedral remembering the lives of those who died
in the 7 July bombings are so memorable and successful.
However, because communities at worship authentically express
a distinctive element of the lives of those amongst the faith
communities, we believe it is essential that this continues to
be portrayed as part of the output of public service broadcasting.
This is essential for some disabled and housebound people who
depend on programmes depicting their faith communities for the
sustenance of their faith, often in the twilight of their lives.
Furthermore, for those from minority communities, such depiction
could be said to be literally a lifeline which connects them to
their faith at these times. As well as this, the portrayal of
communities at worship de-mystifies and makes accessible the practices
of different communities at worship, and preventing these from
becoming a private matter.
The Communications Act recognised the importance of this
in s 264 (6) and it is undoubtedly the case that the expertise
necessary for portraying communities at worship authentically
resides primarily within the BBC. It goes without saying that
fulfilling this function requires the depiction of genuine communities
authentically at worship, not staging an event for television.
If that was sufficient the informative and educative element would
be lost. I would therefore say I see enormous value in the continued
inclusion of uninterrupted complete acts of worship within the
BBCs output and that the restoration of greater frequency of such
broadcasts of ordinary communities at worship may well be something
that audiences will welcome, given their response to the special
services at times of celebration and sorrow in our nation.
I hope this further information is helpful to the committee.
Could I close by re-iterating my thanks and that of my colleagues
for inviting us to appear before you?
Office for National Statistics. Back
Religious Trends, 2005. Back
Opinion Research Business survey 2003. Back