Category Archives: bbc

Never on Sunday

I know a few Christians who keep Sunday special- so much so they don’t even bother going to church – so I was amazed to read about   Dan Walker one of the new faces of the BBC’s football coverage. Dan will not work on a Sunday because he is a devout Christian. This took me back to the story of Eric Liddell of Chariots of Fire (who ended up playing or was it refereeing  football on Sunday as a POW ) and of the early days of triple jumper Jonathan Edwards (who now is not even sure he believes in God). In today’s edition of The Sun newspaper

Dan is reported as saying “When  first told the producers on a major radio station I wouldn’t work on a Sunday they told me I’d never get anywhere in broadcasting. They thought the fact that I said on my CV that I wouldn’t work on a Sunday was some kind of joke. When I explained I was a Christian, and why I felt the way I did, one of them just sat with his mouth open for about ten seconds. Hand of God … Sunday ban It was a great job and they fully expected me to give up everything to work for them, but I wouldn’t – I didn’t get the job. I take my faith quite seriously and not working on a Sunday is part of that. I don’t even watch football on a Sunday.”

Dan firmly believes that Sunday is time for spending at church with his family and gives some background to his decision; “When I was 12, and about 2ft taller than all the other kids, I was asked to play for quite a few teams. The problem was all their games were on a Sunday. I had only recently become a Christian and this was the first time I was confronted with the issue of how I should be spending my Sundays. I firmly believe God was using that experience, even at an early age, to prepare me for situations in the future when I would need much stronger convictions. People often say it must be really hard to be a Christian and to do the work I do – I disagree. Special I think my job puts me in the same situations everyone else faces. The only difference is that people who work in the media are usually paid to have opinions so you can get involved in some heated debates.”

He accepts his stand is not a position all Christians would take; “Many people – even Christians – have asked me why I feel so strongly about the Lord’s Day. For me it seems quite obvious. God, our creator, has given it to us for our own good. Some will argue that Jesus Christ’s coming means we are no longer obligated to keep it special but I fundamentally disagree. There are still ten commandments and it is more important than ever to guard the fourth one – remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.”

In the film Chariots of Fire Eric Liddell (who switched from the 100 metres because he refused to run on  a Sunday) is handed a piece of paper by the American Sprinter Jackson Schultz as Liddell is settling  down to run the final of the 400 metres  written on it were the words “The Lord says he that honours me I will honour.” Liddell went on to win the race and the gold medal against the odds. There is no doubt that in the world of sports broadcasting Dan Walker is winning against the prevailing tide- let’s hope he makes it to the better ground he has staked out for himself and that his stand doesn’t become a millstone like so many others have found.

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More jackboots than Jesus

I hadn’t heard of  The Christian Council of Britain until yesterday. I was watching a debate on BBC Tv’s The Big Questions about the BNP and to my surprise saw a Christian minister Rev Robert West (in dog collar) a failed BNP candidate in the recent Euro elections saying that it is God’s will to “preserve nations as ethnic groups”. The other BNP rep on the show said that the people have a tendency to “caricature the policies of the BNP with an emotional tirade.” I know nothing about the Rev West, but under challenge from Jonathan Bartley he would not reveal how many people were members of his organisation, so I went on line to check it out. Its mission statement is (my highlights):

“To promote Christian views and values in our Nation and society; and to counteract cultural and ideological challenges and threats from extreme ideologies which would seek to undermine, persecute, or legally prosecute Britain’s national and Christian heritage as a basis for an attack on the free, open, liberal and democratic nature of her People, and of their society. The Christian Council of Britain has been set up to fulfill this Mission Statement through national and local campaigning and by obtaining a voice in the media for patriotic Christians. We promote and defend the Christian stance in government consultations on policy and legislation and we challenge anti-Christian, anti-family propaganda and activities in the media, the professions and wherever else they occur. We will work with like-minded organisations to end the undermining of Britain’s Christian family morality and Christian heritage from whatever source these attacks, insidious or overt, long-term or sudden, originate from.

As the Rev West was so evasive about the numbers and backing for his organisation. I checked out what  Churches Together  has to say about The Christian Council of Britain:

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland associates itself with the recent statement from the Methodist Church concerning a body calling itself the “Christian Council of Britain”, and wishes to make absolutely clear that there is no connection between CTBI or its predecessor the British Council of Churches and the “Christian Council of Britain”.The statement from the Methodist Church said:  A body calling itself the Christian Council of Britain and apparently associated with the BNP recently started joining protests against Jerry Springer: The Opera. Anthea Cox, Methodist Coordinating Secretary for Public Life and Social justice, said, “I am outraged that the BNP and its allies are using Christianity to further their agenda of segregation and division. I think most Christians will be deeply affronted by this and want to speak out against such misguided extremism. We reaffirm our earlier statements that Christian belief is incompatible with any political party or philosophy that is based on hatred or treats people as inferior because of their race, beliefs or for any other reason. We are deeply concerned that some people are now appropriating Christian language and symbols for policies that are the very opposite of Christian values.”

The CCB has claimed that the Bible justifies its support for the BNP’s repatriation policy. But the Revd Ken Howcroft, Coordinating Secretary for Conference and Communication, said “this was a way of interpreting scripture that was used to justify apartheid in South Africa, the banning of mixed-race marriages and the setting up of homelands. The South African Council of Churches condemned this interpretation, and some of the churches that did support this interpretation later formally repented. In Galatians, Paul writes ‘In Christ there is no Jew or Gentile,’ and this makes it clear that there is no Christian basis for racial discrimination or separation.”

Now we know the sort of  ‘Christian’ organisation that BNP’s Nick Griffin promised to support in his recent Times interview and the sort of ‘Christian’ values held by the Rev Robert West-  More jackboots than Jesus.

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Shame and embarrassment

A Day of shame and embarrassment for the Catholic Church in Ireland. That’s how Roy Jenkins described the impact of stories about Roman Catholic run institutions who failed the children and young people in their care. A day of pain and anger for survivors too, who recounted nightmarish, horrific stories of how they were treated- and the burden and scars mental and physical that they carry to this day. The church is ashamed ,and rightly so,  and the whole Christia movement should be grieving about the way these young people were abused. We share in  the rebuke for trust breached. It is simply not enough to say sorry and expect to retain any respect and credibility when claim to love and care  for all people. We have a very real duty to protect those in our communities who are most vulnerable and at risk. We have shamed the Christ we represent. We have let him down and true repentance is what is called for.

This issue should not just be dealt with by our courts. I would like to see some sort of truth and reconciliation framework set up to help address the needs of these broken people and our broken faith. We need to show remorse and do what can be done to confront the pain of the past head-on. May we  be brave enough to cope with the consequences.

This week is one of  broken and failed institutions being found out for letting the people down. The people will have their say and their day. Who knows where this will all lead?

I share Roy’s view that In the tears of the  abused children Christ was weeping too.

Hear the full broadcast at http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/programmes/thought/

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Islamophobia?

aahmedWhen the FA appointed a Swede to head up the management of the England football team there was stunned disbelief- until that is the supporters realised he was the right man for the job. When he was  replaced  with an Englishman who failed to qualify for the Euros  the fans expressed their disgust. Now we are coasting into the World Cup finals in South African led by an Italian.

Yesterday  the BBC yesterday appointed a Muslim as its head of religious programming in a radical departure from broadcasting tradition. In the past the post of head of religion at the BBC has been considered a job for a senior and respected cleric or lay churchgoer.The Church of England’s place as the established Church has usually been influential in the choice of post holders.There were deep reservations among church leaders eight years ago when for the first time the corporation appointed an atheist to the role.

Now the post  has gone to Aaqil Ahmed,who has been working as an executive at Channel 4.The Christian backlash has already begun. Voices have been raised by the usual suspects who seem to believe that Muslims are the work of the devil, but even  more liberal and thoughtful  Christian leaders such as Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury have added their critical voices to the debate. Dr Williams raised concerns over the prospect of a Muslim head of religious broadcasting during a meeting with the corporation’s director general Mark Thompson in March and I am sure an official position statement will be issued  from Lambeth within the week.

Christians are feeling under attack and marginalised ,and both Dr Williams and Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu have made repeated public complaints over the indifference and occasional hostility to Christianity shown in Whitehall and from other authorities.Last year the BBC gave the job of producing its most popular and long running religious programme, Songs of Praise, to a Sikh, Tommy Nagra.

The Church of England points out that 70 per cent of the population of Britain professes to be Christian, but only 3 per cent are Muslims and is in disbelief that a minority appointment could be made in this instance. Why? An official spokesman for the CofE said: ‘We will judge the new man by his output rather than his label.’  and Christina Rees, a member of the Church’s ‘Cabinet’, the Archbishops’ Council, said: ‘Aaqil Ahmed is a respected professional who has an established record of producing programmes on religion and ethics.It is important that the Christian faith continues to receive coverage that accurately reflects its significance in the lives of most people who live in Britain, the overwhelming majority of whom regard themselves as Christian.’

 Mr Ahmed is currently Channel 4’s senior executive for religious programmes. He has commissioned series on the history of Christianity and the Koran.His critics accuse him of dumbing down religion, for example in one programme by presenting an assessment of the state of Christianity by Cherie Blair.Mr Ahmed is a trustee of the Runnymede Trust, a body that has championed the ideology of multiculturalism.He has also taken part in campaigns for a greater Muslim presence in the media.

Doesn’t it say somewhere in the scriptures that God surprises us with the people he choosesto do his work. Jesus made a Samaritan and not a Jew the hero of his most famous parable and told is followers that he had found more faith in a Roman soldier than in his own people. I wonder if anyone has pointed this out to Mr Ahmed or the Archbishops: I think we are in for an interesting time don’t you? I hope every Christian leader in the country will write a warm letter of welcome to Mr Ahmed, and I look forward to some imaginative broadcasting on his watch.

Sing when you’re winning, you only sing when you’re winning…….

For full report see http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1180715/BBC-appoints-Muslim-religious-post-controversial-first.html

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Our Muslim neighbours, our friends, our shared hope for community

In this morning’s  BBC Radio4 Thought for the Day  Abdal Hakim Murad shared that a new survey by the Gallup organisation has revealed that Muslims are much more likely than the general population to have confidence in British institutions such as the judiciary, the political process, the media and the police. 77% seven percent of UK Muslims say that they identify with the UK, compared to only fifty percent of the general population.

As politicians fret about social cohesion, and worry that our national identity is at risk. Some commentators mistrust religious and ethnic minorities, with their continuing desire to be distinctive. Yet if the concern is about our sense of belonging, the Gallup poll suggests that the Muslim minority is more part of the solution than part of the problem. Difference does not have to undermine cohesion. It is clear that one important part of being British is that there is no single way of being British. Pilgrims in Mecca, a city where the English language was never heard only a couple of generations ago, can now be heard speaking with the most perfect Glaswegian, Liverpudlian, or  London accents.

Both Jesus and the Prophet outline the importance of  loving  for your neighbours what you love for yourself. Abdal says that ” for me, that means more than sharing an occasional cup of sugar. It means affirming what is best in their own heritage. Religion, at its best, allows us to be different, while helping others to be true to themselves.”

To hear the Broadcast in full see http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/programmes/thought/

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All the small things

all-the-small-thingsHere’s a thing. What about  a story of a person who has gathered around them the rejected, unlovely and unloved and is building up their confidence and self esteem by showing them love, acceptance and inspiring them to do great things. The person is even helping them come to terms with past hurts and challenging them to move on and be healed from their insecurities by taking risks. At the same time this person in being enabled by a man of God to re imagine what church and heaven looks like and how it is possible to make a difference to the local community through the church building. The religious establishment are furious and seem unable to cope with the challenge of these random acts of kindness. You could be forgiven for thinking this was the story of Jesus or the early apostles but it isn’t. It’s a newish BBC One uplifting musical serial drama  from Debbie Horsfield called All the small things staring Sara Lancashire ,Neil Pearson Sarah Alexander and Richard Fleeshman. It’s an allegory (maybe not even intentional) of the christian faith and gospel of unconditional love and forgiveness. It’s full of surprises and transformations and handled the subjects of prejudice, disappointment, love and hope very well.  I think this should be required viewing for every member of the clergy and Christians who want to reach out to their communities with the unconditional love of Christ- we could all learn a lot from Esther Caddick and Jake the charismatic young curate who wants to make the church the hub of the community for those people who would not normally darken its doors. Watch the latest episode on BBCi player at the link below and ask your minister and congregation to do the same- it’s in all the small things- like acts of random kindness and bei9ng there for people who need us,- that we make the difference that transforms lives and this drama helps get to the heart and soul of what real faith is about.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00jzkbn/All_the_Small_Things_Episode_4/

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Have a passionate Easter

The BBC Passion drama is being shown again on BBC 4 on Wednesday 8th April 7.30pm-10.20pm. Don’t miss it! There are also some interesting Easter/passion features on the website   rejesus.co.uk . Also on line is the People’s Passion where BBC’s local radio stations invited volunteers to take part in a reading of the Passion story according to the Gospel of St. Mark.

Watch the trailer here:

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