A former British Broadcasting Corporation executive is charging that the organization is exhibiting “Christophobia,” an “inherent antagonism” to Christianity.
The U.K.’s Christian Institute noted the comments from Robin Aitken, who worked at the BBC for 25 years and published a book in 2018 accusing the broadcaster of abandoning its Christian heritage.
Aitken wrote April 1 in The Telegraph of London that Easter in 2021 for many is “a public holiday stripped of its religious significance.”
“If they dig deep enough they should conclude that part of the answer to those questions lies with the way our broadcasters treat religion,” he wrote.
“We now live in an era in which the mass media, for better or worse, shapes our public morality,” he said. “Observing this changed landscape, many social conservatives are apt to point the finger of blame at the Church of England itself; it is the C of E, they say, which by bending before the prevailing wind of permissive liberal attitudes has allowed the old Christian morality to be repudiated and replaced by a new ‘media morality.'”
Aitken said that this “new morality, in essence, tells people that fusty old notions of ‘sin’ can be dispensed with because they have no substance.”
He cited the bishop of Ripon, Helen-Ann Hartley, who said the BBC has put religion in a “God-slot” where it is separated from the general audience.
“Where are the documentaries that challenge us to rethink the world we live in?” Hartley wrote. “Or the dramas that ask us to re-imagine our human relationships? Instead of congratulating itself on producing more content than ever, I wonder if it’s time for the BBC to ask just what is the point of religion on the telly, or the radio for that matter?”
“Good question, Bishop,” Aitken said. “The truth is that the BBC shies away from any explanation of the ills that afflict contemporary society which might undermine belief in the tenets of a permissive, liberal, interpretation of ‘progress.’ The BBC seemingly does not wish to engage with ideas that implicitly cast doubt on the benefits of our modern morality. Nor does it wish to explore the debt that the liberalism it so enthusiastically embraces owes to Christianity; for, in truth, without Christianity there would be no liberalism.”
Aitken also cited political philosopher Sir Larry Siedentop, who said “liberal thought is the offspring of Christianity.”
“Siedentop’s crucial insight is that the Christian notion of the uniqueness of every human being made ‘in the image and likeness of God’ and endowed with an immortal soul is a deeply subversive one. Subversive because anyone who understands this concept and acts in good conscience on it can never be a supporter of an unjust hierarchical society where some people are treated as unworthy and lesser beings,” Aitken said.
“So what has this to do with religious broadcasting and the BBC? Only this: that in order to understand our society, so concerned as it is with ‘rights’ we have to understand where the notion of ‘human rights’ comes from. And properly understood that leads ineluctably back to basic Christian teaching,” he wrote.
“But this is an understanding constantly frustrated by the BBC’s secular instinct which is to ascribe all that is good in our society to the Enlightenment of the 18th century and the insights of the leading intellectual figures of that period.”
He said the BBC’s “worldview consciously militates against incorporating in its output an understanding of religion and its importance in human affairs.”
“This is, in my experience, primarily because the BBC is staffed by people contemptuous of, and often also ignorant of, Christian history and teachings. Most program-makers in the BBC are highly educated folk who have come through the atheistic degree-factories of Oxbridge,” he wrote.
“Our modern intellectual class (to whom BBC people largely belong) reject the Christian contribution to western civilization – which is immeasurable. This has led to distorted news values; it is why, for instance, the BBC rightly reports extensively on the plight of the Muslim Uighurs but consistently underplays the persecution of Christians in Muslim countries like Pakistan,” Aitken said.
“Over the years there have been many complaints about the BBC’s perceived anti-Christian stance – something we might term its ‘Christophobia.’ Back in 2011 Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the RC leader of Scotland’s Catholics, commissioned research into BBC news coverage after which he leveled the charge that the BBC was institutionally biased against Christianity,” he wrote.
The Christian Institute’s social policy analyst, Sharon James, wrote, “In reality, the liberties and rights that we value in free societies are to a great degree the result of Christianity’s influence.”
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