Why wasn’t there more about the other faiths over Easter on the BBC?

And why has the BBC abandoned making programmes for children?

11 April 2015

9:00 AM

11 April 2015

9:00 AM

There was no shortage of Easter music and talks across the BBC networks with a sunrise service on Radio 4 followed by much fuss and fanfare for the ‘live’ relay of Libby Lane’s first Easter sermon as Bishop. A significant milestone for the C of E as women are at last allowed to don mitres and wield a bishop’s crozier. Three, not to be outdone, invited the Revd Lucy Winkett (who had to outride the brouhaha caused by her appointment as the first woman priest at St Paul’s Cathedral) on to Private Passions, where she proved herself an insightful musician and theologian. Her impassioned explanation of the Easter message, the deep paradox of God’s confinement, nailed to the Cross, even as the Resurrection is about to be revealed, left me wanting more from her and less of the music. Two, meanwhile, gave us the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, on Good Morning Sunday and in the evening, the Soul Sanctuary Gospel Choir. Even The Archers were on Easter duty with a dawn meeting on Lakey Hill.

It’s surprising now to find so much about the Christian festival on the BBC’s airwaves when such a relatively small percentage of the population actively believe in it. Even more striking, though, was the absence of any other kind of religious observance in this most holy week (it was also Passover). There are mosques, synagogues, temples (Hindu, Sikh, Sufi, Bahai, Mormon) across the UK but very rarely do we hear live broadcasts from these different faiths or programmes that tell us about their rituals and why they believe as they do. And yet, as Sarah Dunant said on The Faith of Children or Kumbayah and All That, ‘It’s very important for us to understand imaginatively what it is like to be consumed by belief.’ This is especially true now when religion has become such a powerful political force.

Dunant was remembering her childhood as a Catholic. She was 13 and some missionaries from Africa were visiting the parish. When she went for weekly confession before Mass, she took it as an opportunity to express her doubts, especially about the Genesis story. She told the priest she didn’t see how it was possible for God to create the world in six days. When he replied, ‘I don’t think you should be watching too much television,’ she was devastated. ‘He can’t answer me,’ she thought, and from that moment lost her faith.

Nija Dalal’s programme for Radio 4 gave us five remarkably honest accounts of being brought up in the faith, from Dunant as a Catholic and also from an Iranian member of the Bahai faith, a female journalist brought up as an Orthodox Jew, a Canadian Muslim and a Mormon. Jenn Ashworth, a novelist, grew up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and told us about Pioneer Day, when Mormons dress up as if they were in the Wild West and go on procession, pulling behind them a handcart full of belongings, until a man wearing a false beard declares, ‘This is the place.’ It’s a re-enactment of that original journey when the Salt Lake basin was determined as the home of the first Mormon community. It sounds ridiculous but as Ashworth told it, looking back on her childhood, there was a deeply felt resonance, a purpose.

Abdul-Rehman Malik remembered his first Ramadan at the height of summer in Toronto. Late-night prayers went on at the mosque until 1.30 in the morning, during which he was expected to stand, not having eaten anything through a long, hot day. Afterwards they all decamped to a parking lot where one of his uncles had filled the boot of his Chevy with cans of lemonade packed in ice. It was, he said, the sweetest, most refreshing drink.

These childhood experiences had obviously made a deep impression and moulded adult lives, even for those who have since left the faith. The programme was an illustration of just how impressionable those early years are, and yet the BBC has abandoned all attempts to reach out and make programmes especially for that crucial seven to 13 age group. The last remaining bastion of children’s radio, The 4 O’clock Show, was dropped from Radio 4 Extra last week. It was argued that with only 5,900 listeners it was not viable and that giving the slot back to adult listeners might actually boost Radio 4 Extra’s audience figures.

Out there on the internet it’s possible to find any number of specialist music stations designed for children ( boasts that it has on site 100,000 radio stations you can visit for free), while Fun Kids, the children’s radio station, broadcasts on DAB in London and has a live schedule. But these stations are all about music and visuals. There’s very little to spark the imagination, provide the kind of mind-opening experience that was once available on the BBC. Why be afraid of pure storytelling? Give them One Direction if you must. But how about giving them also a blast of Chris Watson and his brilliant nature recordings, sounding out bugs, bats, flesh-eating plants? Or David Tennant as Biggles?

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Show comments
  • freddiethegreat

    Why have anything on “other faiths” (=’religions’) over Easter, which is solely Christian and Jewish? Would you push for a big Hindu presence on TV during Ramadan? (Warning: if you do, make sure your life insurance covers beheading). How about letting the Sikhs sally into a Buddhist commemoration? Or let Jews jive into a Shinto bunfight?
    Yes, you’re a journalist, but do try to keep a modicum of good sense.

    • Ivan Ewan

      Shinto-believers celebrate with bunfights? It’s like the perfect faith for Etonians.

      • what about the scientologists? why does everyone keep on forgetting them?

        • Ivan Ewan

          They can celebrate by causing a few suicides.

  • freddiethegreat

    “‘He can’t answer me,’ she thought, and from that moment lost her faith.”
    Poor little thing.

    • Ivan Ewan

      Just got in an argument with a Catholic, actually. Based on an unfairly low sample of three (him plus this Bishop and this random lady), I’d guess that Catholics have no idea how to debate because they’re all programmed not to question anything.

  • I don’t want to hear or see a service from a mosque .. because there the followers are told that gays should be killed and non-muslims are sub-human. No thank you!

    • Ivan Ewan

      What if it were a Christian service in a mosque?

      • Would women be allowed in the same room as the men?
        But still … no.

        • Ivan Ewan

          I meant, where everyone in the room is a Muslim, except maybe the guy giving the sermon, and except maybe the armed police officers preventing him from being torn to shreds.

      • Richard Baranov

        You cannot have a Christian service in a mosque. It is as simple as that.

    • john

      Yes, Christians have always given gays every form of support and encouragement.

      • They’re not out murdering thousands of people a day right now because of their religion, are they?
        So please refer to something in the present, and not the past.

        • john

          A wonderfully shortsighted view. So nothing happened before 2000? All (Abrahamic) religions are based on hatred of non members. Christians are killing gays in Uganda at the moment.

          • tolpuddle1

            You’d better call Islamic State to the rescue, then.

            Or perhaps Fry and Tatchell could lead an International Brigade of heroic homosexuals to rescue Gays from those wicked Christians.

            BTW, murdering people is contrary to the Bible’s teaching.

        • freddiethegreat

          Notice how the homosexual lobby insists that everything revolve around their pet perversion – even subjects that are totally concerned with something else, like the article above?

          • how many people did the “homosexual lobby” kill this week?
            You f*cking retard.

  • Peter Bering

    Easter is Christian for God’s sake!

  • David Prentice

    Libby Lane…ye gods!

  • jim

    Too many white western christians taking up space, eh Katie? The cheek of these people making their presence felt in their own country. We’ll fix that soon enough ,won’t we girl? We’ll force feed the country with thirdworld peasants and they’ll sooner or later put those arrogant white swine in their place. I love it when a plan comes together. Looking forward to seeing these savages turn on the likes of you Katie and rip you limb from limb. Small comfort when I know I’ll be next in line for the chopping block.

  • Richard Baranov

    I am a Buddhist, I no more expect chatter about religions other than Christianity on Easter, than I would expect a sermon on Christianity during Wesak, the major Buddhist celebration, I would find it insulting. Would be nice if people were aware of Wesak when it comes around, there are about a million Buddhists in the U.K., but we are really into non-violence, I suppose you need to blow people up in order to get attention.
    Peace and I sincerely hope that people had a Happy Easter

    Finally, the P.C. drivel that this article represents really needs to stop.

    • freddiethegreat

      Good on yer. I could argue cosmology and worldview etc with you endlessly (Voltairean fashion) but you have a refreshing attitude.

      • Richard Baranov

        What do you mean by “cosmology”?

    • I totally understand you, and for what you said: I love you!. Thank you.
      (as a Minister of the Religion of the Flying Spaghetti Monster).

  • mykejt

    Easter is a Christian festival. I don’t get the point of the article.

  • Annephi

    Why do you think that was, you stupid woman? Could it be because Easter is about Christianity and Britain is a country with a Christian heritage? I’m surprised to see such a dumb article in the Spectator.

    • Joe Parmaker

      I’ll second that. A bad slip by the commissioning editor.

  • PaulF

    I wish people would stop talking about other ‘faiths.’ Faith is a biblical concept and there is nothing outside the Bible comparable to it. Non biblical religions don’t even refer to themselves as faiths. We have managed to confuse it for them, as we fall over ourselves in quest of a spurious ‘equality.’

    • Richard Baranov

      Actually I agree with you. Sam Harris has pointed out that the term ‘religion’ is as meaningful as the term ‘sport’, they are terms that cover a multitude of things that have little in common with one another. Tennis is not Karate, likewise, Jainism is about as alien to Islam as you can get.
      As for the term ‘faith’, it has no meaning in terms of Buddhism, the closest term is Śraddhā, which mean ‘confidence’. The same sort of confidence one has one when asks someone where the nearest pub is in a new town. :-)Christian ‘faith’ in so far as I understand it, would be considered a ‘mental obscuration’ and a great fault, not a virtue at all. I say that not meaning to offend but to simply point out a matter of fact.
      I used to be heavily involved in the interfaith movement. In the end I gave up because of the very muddled thinking you allude to. It is simply nonsense to suppose that all religions are all expressions of the same thing and that all would be hunky dory if we recognized that piece of nonsense as a ‘fact’.

      • PaulF

        Exactly. The whole point of Scripture is that the knowledge of God is given to us in Christ.
        Faith in the biblical sense is knowledge. We are called to ‘cast down’ in our minds ‘every high thing that raises itself against the knowledge of God’ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
        Calling other religions ‘faiths’ is the height of confusion. It is astonishing how many have fallen into it.

        • Dukeofplazatoro

          Hugo Rifkind made a similar point to the above discussion in an article in the Spectator a few months ago. He said that he did not regard Judaism as a faith but is as something “mostly about observances”.

  • Stephen Milroy

    Given that the Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation is inherently anti Christian I think a good chunk of Christian programming over Easter is long overdue…

  • greencoat

    Is this meant to be a joke?

  • EmilyEnso

    Why wasn’t there more about the other faiths over Easter on the BBC?
    Yep Kate.
    Funny thing but we are a christian country and easter is a christian religious festival.
    You won’t find there is much enthusiasm to be showing the islamic faith.
    Pictures of islamic terrorists including paper Brits, slaughtering christians might have done a lot of waking up – but at this point in time – could perhaps be connsidered tasteless as we celebate easter.
    Make a deal with you Kate.
    When you can give me a link to the Saudi TV giving christians in Saudi (Are there some) free rein to have their say when the islamics next have a very special celebration – next year I will join you in your call.
    Until then – wake your ideas up, girl.
    As far as islam is concerned its message is already loud and clear from the murder in the middle east.
    If you can’t hear that you are deaf.
    And we don’t need to BBC to play it.
    Just google.

  • tolpuddle1

    There was a great deal about the Muslim faith over Easter – constant reports about jihadis, terror plots, Iran talks, Islamic State, sectarian war in Yemen and other testamonials to Islam’s power and vibrancy..

    • Kennybhoy

      Sad lol… 🙁

  • Picquet

    Dear God (so to speak). Why was there nothing – nothing at all – about those of us who believe in the majestic Power of pixies, elves and little purple bunny-like Gods?
    If you insist on having a massive, dominant slave-driver ruling your life, go to North Korea; you’ll soon start believing in the Army there.