I mix with many people in many different church circles and there is a consensus that the BBC has a problem with Christianity, to the extent that it is taken for granted that there is an ‘anti-Christian bias’. I realise there are problems with this phrase, not least because it implies a deliberate and organised discriminatory policy which I’m not sure is actually the situation. Nevertheless, for convenience I will let it stand.
I’m also well aware that the words ‘Christianity’ and ‘Christian’ include a wide spectrum of beliefs and I have no brief to defend some of its extremes, whether fundamentalism on the one hand or liberalism on the other. My concern is that what we might term mainstream, Bible-based, ‘traditional’ Christianity, which represents both the core of Christianity in the UK and that area of most rapid growth, is either under-reported, misreported or merely selectively covered by the BBC, whether that be on the radio, television or digital media.
I’m also well aware that there are instances of thoughtful and sensitive portrayals of both Christians and Christian issues, for instance recent episodes of Call the Midwife. I should say that I am not one of those viewers who sits, clipboard in hand, sternly noting offences against the faith. I like my entertainment and education to be just that. I am also aware of the most interesting BBC Religion & Ethics Review December 2017 and appreciate that you evaluate what you do.
As a final preliminary let me mention that I am well aware of the peril of spiritual nostalgia and am trying to speak about the present, not the past. The tide began to go out long ago on the ‘sea of faith’ and there is no point lamenting its departure. There are, however, intriguing signs that the tide has turned and, given that a flood tide is more deadly than an ebbing one, it’s no bad time for the BBC to be asked to face issues.
If it is assumed in ‘Christian circles’ that there is bias by the BBC against both the faith and the faithful, I find no consensus on why this is the case. Explanations range from a (possibly literal) takeover of Broadcasting House by satanic forces to, more prosaically, a simple lack of corporate courage within the organisation to swim against the turbulent currents of present-day culture. My own feeling centres on the belief that, having been founded on firm Christian principles by the domineering figure of Lord R