Shine a torch on any part of the BBC’s operations and disturbing creatures start scuttling out from under the rocks.
Take the religious output. Even the high command in the Church of England – long since wedded to the same right-on meme as the BBC on issues such as climate change and the support of food banks – is worried that the Corporation is anti-Christian in its treatment of faith.
Feedback, R4’s show which purports to give an airing to listeners’ concerns, tackled religious content in its latest edition. The most senior BBC contributor was Christine Morgan, who is head of religious coverage for the whole of radio.
In the most crucial section, Ms Morgan was asked by presenter Roger Bolton – currently also engaged via the programme in a mission to protect the BBC licence fee – what the purpose of BBC religious output was?
How did she handle this? By explaining that the United Kingdom is a predominantly Christian country, or that the Church of England is the State Religion? No.
She stated instead: ‘Part of it is helping people to articulate what they want to do, part of it is explaining this fantastic multi-faith, multi-cultural society that we have…’
And there we have it. Put another way, in BBC-land, religious output is not any more primarily focused on thinking about Christianity and religion itself or faith; it’s a medium through which the multi-cultural agenda can be pursued and amplified.
In fact, Roger Bolton himself has flagged concerns about the direction of the BBC’s religious coverage, noting in this article, for example, that those who oppose abortion on religious grounds are often presented in BBC coverage as ‘plain barmy’.
What the article also said is that Bolton believes that BBC journalists tend to see the debates over gay marriage and women priests in the context of equal rights, while from the religious perspective they are matters of scripture and theology.
It noted Bolton and others felt that conservatives on these subjects were often treated by BBC interviewers as throwbacks who are damaging the Church and dragging it back into the past, rather than people who simply have a different view about the tenets of their faith.
Of course the BBC still does still cover Christian services – for example every Sunday morning on Radio Four – but this is not the point. The Corporation increasingly sees its main duty as pushing the equality agenda and that favouritism towards any creed is the greatest sin. That inevitably means a dilution and a diminution. Just as Jenni Murray despises the word ‘mother’, so those who handle religious issues avoid whenever they can ‘Christianity’.