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 Reith, it was probably inevitable that, sooner or later, the cultural pendulum would see the BBC swing into sceptical liberalism. The problem is that our current age of multiculturalism has produced a situation in which there is little desire to see the pendulum swing back to some sort of more balanced attitude towards our faith. Nevertheless, whatever the correct analysis, the fact remains that many of us who are Christian leaders find sins of omission and commission at the BBC.
In terms of omission, we find that the role of Christianity in the life of an individual or in history is, all too frequently, conveniently overlooked. Although, as I mentioned, I do not keep records of specifics, let me cite two instances. One is the BBC’s treatment of the limbless Nick Vujicic, a remarkable man who Wikipedia describes in its first line as ‘a Serbian-Australian Christian evangelist and motivational speaker born with tetra-amelia syndrome . . .’ Mysteriously on the BBC website – http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20150318-leading-without-limbs– all reference to his Christian faith has been removed. Another instance is the omission of Usain Bolt’s firm Christian faith in a lengthy biographical treatment of him at http://www.bbc.com/sport/olympics/37078358. Is this wilful bias or simply a lack of courage and truth to name what motivates these individuals? These are not unique cases. I’ve come across references to organisations and individuals that I know to be Christian where this most fundamental element in their existence is quite simply overlooked.
More subtly, in historical programmes there is all too frequently the airbrushing out of Christianity. Possibly in an effort to make situations and individuals more accessible and sympathetic to the modern mind, the role of church and faith in determining both the culture and the actions of individuals is downplayed. The church, the Bible and Christian ethics almost always seem to have mysteriously gone missing, Photoshopped out of history. It does not have to be so. A positive example here is Series 2 Episode 6, ‘Vergangenheit’, of Netflix’s The Crown which shows Queen Elizabeth II grappling with issues of faith and forgiveness and has a sympathetic portrayal of Billy Graham preaching. Many who have watched it have said that this was precisely the sort of thing that the BBC dare not now produce. For the best part of 2,000 years the Christian faith in some form or other has governed how the people of the United Kingdom thought, spoke and acted. Men and women attended church, said prayers, uttered grace before meals and, whether they followed the tenets of the church or not, they at least considered them. To reject that role for Christianity is to deny history.
Read it all.