When 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
Filed under Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York, bbc, Broadcasting, Christian values, Christianity, church, Church of England, ethics, faith, faith Christianity, islam, radio, religion, TV
It’s one hundred days today since January 20th when Barack Obama was inaugurated as the world’s most powerful man-the President of the United States of America. Millions of words will be written today assessing how well he has done at this most inconsequential of milestones after just three months. He seems to have been a busy man ,although is still short of delivering his promises in relation to troop withdrawals,widening opportunity and social mobility for millions of Americans. What have we come to know of President Obama in this time? On BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day, the Bishop of Liverpool, James Jones, shares with us something of how Obama’s faith was formed as the young Chicago community organiser sat in Trinity Church. At that time Obama was surrounded by ordinary people rather than sharp suited advisers and media handlers. he worked out his theology amongst a congregation of aspirational African-Americans as a “reluctant sceptic”. Obama writes about that time: “the churches are the only game in town…That’s where the people are, and that’s where the values are, even if they are buried under a lot of bullshit.”
In his Thought for the Day broadcast, Bishop James, tells of a moving account of Obama breaking down in church in tears as he glimpsed something of the power of God at work in the lives of a people he identified with and was working to help. No cameras, no journalists, no political advisers- just Obama, God and the young man who handed him a tissue to stem the flow of tears…and definitely no bullshit. As for the Presidency so far, keep sniffing and judge for yourself.
Listen to this Thought for the Day at http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/programmes/thought/
Martin Bell on Lent
Thank God for BBC’s i-player. Ironically I am on a lent course with the church I attend when these talks are broadcast each Wednesday evening, but the magic of the web means I don’t miss out.
The one I heard tonight was called “No God’s Land” and was given by former MP and broadcaster Martin Bellwho describes himself as “an anglican with doubts”. His talk explores the nature of godforsakeness- in war zones -places where God may not be present at all , or if he is his presence is invisible
Bell says Lent is now an unfavoured season, out of kilter with the times but calls it a seasonal reality check in a world so full of chatter and computer based activity (including this blog) that we have trouble distinguishing the real from the virtual. He says that there are so many conflicting versions of truth that it’s even tough for the non-believers to know what not to believe! There are too many barriers to block the light and hinder understanding. Bell suggests that our hold on reality is shaky enough as it is and we need to switch our various devices off for a while so we can being to separate virtual from the real. he advocates going on holiday to recent war zones as a way of getting truly grounded in some of the scenes from hell written on darkest pages of human history which will stop us in our tracks and make us think. After all, says Bell, isn’t that the point of lent?
I won’t be able to visit Bosnia or Croatia but in the spirit of what Martin Bell suggests I will cease blogging each Wednesday in Lent and let the BBC broadcasts do the talking for me.
You only have a couple of days to check this out so listen now at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00htwhj/Lent_Talks_In_No_Gods_Land/
The BBC launched its online Faith Diary last week with a poll suggesting that two-thirds of people don’t want a secularist wipeout of religion in Britain. A ComRes poll of 1,045 people found 62% agreeing that religion has an important role in public life.
An extract from the findings reads: ‘Almost two-thirds of those questioned said the law “should respect and be influenced by UK religious values”, and a similar proportion agreed that “religion has an important role to play in public life”. A significantly greater proportion of the Muslims and Hindus polled (albeit in relatively small numbers) supported a strong role in public life for the UK’s essentially Christian traditional religious values.
The findings illustrate the growing alliance between people of different faith groups against the rolling back of religion in general in the public arena.’ See the poll by follwing this link http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7783563.stm