Wholesome testimony to faith in God slips through net of BBC’s PC agenda

May 17, 2016 by

by Andrew Symes, Anglican Mainstream.

The BBC is a ‘politically correct’ organization. The original Reithian vision set out that one of the institution’s aims is to educate the nation. What Andrew Marr ten years ago described as “culturally liberal”, an “urban organisation with an abnormally large number of young people, ethnic minorities, and gay people”  does not just refer to the internal culture for employees, but is part of the agenda and philosophy for educating the nation in the 21st century.

This agenda includes the deconstruction of traditional sexual morality. It is not enough to say that while faithful heterosexual marriage remains the norm, there are minorities who have chosen different lifestyles and they should be respected and not persecuted or discriminated against. Instead, the ‘normativity’ of the majority should be continually challenged, partly through the presenting of public role models. So, the new BBC Charter includes a government-imposed quota of at least 10% of self-identified LGBT people in senior roles at the Corporation by 2020. Note that this does not refer to presenters, where the current figure must already exceed the 10%, but now executives as well. As this article points out the 10% figure is arbitrary, and hugely exaggerated (most studies show that the LGBT population of the UK is less than 2%). But in this contemporary drive to radically change the way all of us think about sex and morality, aka the ‘queering’ of society, truth is not important – it’s all about repeating messages and visual signals. With recruitment policies increasingly determined by conformity to the norms of the sexual revolution, we are being ‘educated’, but perhaps not in the way that Lord Reith would have envisaged.

Our broadcasters are also training us in a philosophy that wants to marginalise Christianity, by relegating it to minority ‘religious’ programming, a shrinking space which it needs to share more and more with other faiths. Another recently-published internal review states that the Corporation’s religious output is “too Christian”. More services from Mosques and temples should be seen on TV, says the head of Religious Broadcasting, who happens to be a Muslim. Faith perspectives are rarely heard in drama, news or current affairs, and if a Christian viewpoint does appear in a non-religious slot, it is always ‘balanced’ by others.

So it was refreshing when on Monday morning at breakfast time on Radio Five Live an interview allowed a non-PC, Christian message to slip through the net. There was an item on how difficult it is for elderly people to survive just on the state pension. Chris Warburton interviewed an 82-year old lady called (I think) Jan Collins from Sussex. It could have gone so differently. “How are you today?” asked Warburton. The response could have been something along the lines of an account of how terrible life was, trapped in desperate poverty where the state pension only covered rent for housing and the ‘pension credit’ only covered basic essentials. It could have led to a discussion steered towards the usual conclusion – that the problem can be solved and happiness brought about by the availability of more money.

But instead Mrs Collins said “I’m happy – the sun is shining”. She admitted that she only just got by, through careful budgeting and purchasing only essentials for day to day living. “What about treats?” asked the interviewer. “Do you ever go on holiday?” Mrs Collins had very kind children, who helped her out with practical things, and who also ensured she had a holiday once a year. Chris Warburton tried gamely to follow the script, asking questions which for many of people would have been cues to make points: bitterness about the past (this lady had not earned enough in her youth to save meaningfully for the future), worries about the present, or complaints about the system and governments cuts. But there was none of this. Jan Collins said “I have got something that money can’t buy”, and “I’ve got peace in my heart”. Just as the interview finished, she said “I don’t need to worry, because I know that my God is with me”.

I am really not wanting to make any sort of political point about state benefits, nor do I deny that many elderly people relying on the state pension find life very difficult. Care and practical help from neighbours and family varies widely, Government and all of us should be held to account for the extent to which the elderly have enough not to become destitute.  But how many Bishops or clergy, given the opportunity to talk about the difficulties pensioners face, would have followed this brave lady’s example, and been able to resist the temptation to preach criticism of pension policies rather than hope and faith in God? Would they have been able to show the importance of family as Mrs Collins did, and perhaps go further and talk about the need to recreate neighbourliness, and even the benefits of being part of a church community?

Whatever our church leaders might have said, for me it was an encouragement to hear not the usual political campaigning masquerading as a human interest interview, but rather clear Christian witness about God and family from a humble poor old lady. There will be gnashing of teeth at the BBC.

See also: Women who go to church live longer, Harvard study finds, by Ian Johnston, Independent

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