Stephen Green at “Christian Voice” is indignant that the BBC is a partly secular organization.
The Daily Mail has run a story about the BBC employing more atheists and non-believers than Christians after submitting a Freedom of Information request.
An internal BBC survey indeed found that just 22.5 per cent of all staff professed to be Christians, but 43% of staff did not respond to the survey. The Daily Mail said the Christians were outnumbered by atheists and those of no faith, at 23.5 per cent, but that figure was arrived at by adding the professing atheists (8.9%) to those of no faith (14.6%). Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims and Sikhs totalled 3.2% while ‘others’ were 2.6%, and 5.2% preferred not to say.
The Daily Mail’s Jonathan Petrie said ‘the new research has been seized on by critics who accuse the Corporation of bias against Christianity and marginalising the faith in its output’. He quoted BBC veteran Roger Bolton, who until recently presented BBC Radio 4’s religious current affairs programme, ‘Sunday’, as saying: ‘There is an inbuilt but unconscious bias against religion, fuelled by the fact staff are not representative of the public. It is not a conspiracy but it needs a correction.’
Why would it need a correction? Why would the BBC have to be more pro-religion?
The Mail has certainly sensationalised the story, but it remains that BBC staff as a whole are unrepresentative of the population at large, where, according to the last census, around 72% claimed to be Christian, with just 15.5% saying they had no religion. At the BBC, out of those who have volunteered information, 39.5% claim to be Christian, 15.6% atheist and 25.6% of no religion. Other religions are similar to the proportions in the population.
I bet I know another way that BBC staff as a whole are unrepresentative of the population at large; I bet they have more than average levels of education. Why? Because of the nature of the job. You could say the same thing about lawyers (for just one example).
There’s an obvious connection, though BBC veteran Roger Bolton might call it bias against religion to spell it out. I’ll spell it out anyway. There’s an obvious connection between more education and more critical thinking about conventional wisdom such as religion. People who spend more time getting an education have more opportunities to be exposed to questions about religion, and people who ask questions about religion. It’s not hugely surprising that there’s a correlation (assuming there is one) between having the education needed to work for the BBC, and being non-religious.
I suppose that’s why outlets like the Daily Mail and people like Stephen Green feel they have to resort to bullying tactics like demanding more “representation” for untenable views.
Green then, taking a leaf from Bill Donohue’s book, quotes himself in a blog post he himself wrote:
In July 2006, a veteran BBC executive told a meeting called to address the problem of anti-Christian bias: ‘There was widespread acknowledgement that we may have gone too far in the direction of political correctness. ‘Unfortunately, much of it is so deeply embedded in the BBC’s culture, that it is very hard to change it.’
Stephen Green, National Director of Christian Voice, responded:
‘It would be good to know the religious break-down of people in BBC top jobs, because it rather seems as if the Christians at the BBC have either a secularist world-view or little vision of how to turn the place upside down, as the early Apostles were accused of doing. Putting the comments from Andrew Marr and Jeremy Vine together, it just seems far easier to be atheistic and gay than to be normal and Christian at the BBC.’
Seriously. He’s quoting himself, in the third person. Did he forget that he shows as the author right at the top of the page?
‘The real problem is not the lack of Christian programming, but the fact that no world-view other than a tedious atheist outlook informs normal programming content. The BBC really should have the decency to acknowledge there are valid points of view other than the grindingly politically-correct anti-Christ atheism held by the majority of its staff.
‘Christians in soaps are always portrayed as weak, or stupid, or bigoted. Meanwhile, story-lines are concocted to introduce homosexuals whenever possible and to show favoured religious minorities in a good light.
Note how automatically he treats “homosexuals” as illegitimate intrusions forced on decent Christians by an atheist minority.
In passing he takes a swipe at Professor Alice Roberts, who replies in a comment:
I wanted to register my disquiet at the paragraph in which I am described as a “fanatical evolutionist”. Like most biologists, I think that evolution through natural selection best explains the diversity of life on this planet; this is not a minority view and not necessarily incompatible with religious belief: many Christians accept evolution.
However, I felt moved to respond to the criticisms of the series Origins of Us, and set the record straight. Firstly, the criticisms do BBC Science an injustice. Even if I wanted to present my own opinions and speculation (in any other way than clearly flagging them as such) the BBC would not allow me to do this in a science programme. Secondly, the criticism levelled at me brings my own academic integrity into question. Every hypothesis and fact discussed or presented in the programme is already “out there”, in peer reviewed scientific publications. BBC Science (and I myself) are very careful about the factual basis of such programmes, and extremely careful to differentiate between fact and opinion.
The “vacuous subjective claims” to which Mr Stephen Green alludes are facts based on peer-reviewed scientific research. I am also surprised that Mr Green suggests I presented the extremely outdated “savannah hypothesis” as current science – this is something that was critically appraised and research suggesting, instead, an arboreal origin for bipedalism was put forward. The idea that tool-using and tool-making may have influenced the shape of our hands is, again, not idle speculation but based on published research. Any change in anatomy which leads to a survival advantage (whether that’s an adaptation helping survival in a particular natural environment or an adaptation which makes you better at making technology which helps you to survive) is likely to be selected for.
I realise that few readers of this website will read my response objectively, but I object strongly to the criticism that my programmes with the BBC have lacked objectivity and include “idle speculation”. That can only be true if you believe that the numerous academic papers which form the backbone of such a series are also “idle speculation”.
Regards, Professor Alice Roberts [I will post a copy of this comment on my Facebook page]
And I posted it here. I like to help.