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.’
Amanda Rice, BBC Head of Diversity, protested that the figures had been ‘wilfully misunderstood by the paper’ and that ‘Of those who were asked about their religion, Christianity was by far the largest category, with 4,619 people.’
To put it all into context, the BBC employs 20,536 staff and they have so far researched 57% of them. Sheryl Holland in the BBC’s Press Office told us: “Nearly 60% of BBC staff have been asked about their religion or belief and, of those, Christianity was by far the largest faith. That said when it comes to recruitment the BBC hires staff based on skills and experience alone. To recruit based on faith or religious belief would be unlawful. As the majority faith of the UK, Christian programming is, and will remain, the cornerstone of the BBC’s religious output.”
The BBC is also frequently acccused of being staffed by 20-somethings but while the age-range is younger than the popualtion it may be argued not to be ridiculously so. 15% of staff are 20-29, 35.8% are 30 – 39, 31.4% are in the 40-49 bracket, 15.2% are aged 50-59 and 60+ accounts for 2.4%.
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.
Before the Conservatives won the election, their spokesman for culture said the BBC should actively seek to redress its “innate liberal bias”, quoting the phrase applied to the BBC by its former political editor Andrew Marr in 2007.
Mr Marr also described the BBC as “a publicly funded urban organisation with an abnormally large proportion of younger people, of people in ethnic minorities and almost certainly of gay people compared with the population at large”.
Now that he has been HM Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport for over a year, the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP has done very little to sort out the ‘innate liberal bias’ at the BBC.
It is not only Andrew Marr who has raised his head above the parapet. In October 2008, the conductor of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra spoke of an ‘ignorant’ secular liberal minority in the media seeking to drive religion from the public sphere.
In January 2009, the Christian BBC presenter Jeremy Vine told Reform Magazine that it has become “almost socially unacceptable to say you believe in God” on the BBC. He did not think he would be allowed to say that Christ is who he said he was on air.
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.
‘The BBC’s atheistic staff bias becomes amplified in its programming. For example, the Radio 4 programme ‘The Moral Maze’ regularly has atheists as 3 out of 4 of its panel. Only Melanie Phillips is allowed to articulate the views of the majority of the audience, who of course, are almost exactly as Judeo-Christian as the Moral Maze panel is atheist.
‘It is good that there is some religious programming on the BBC, and that Christianity is the cornerstone of it, but it is kept safely in its God-slot ghetto, from where a flagship religious programme like Songs of Praise is kept as bland as possible and is allowed to irritate but not seriously challenge the atheist status quo.
‘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. We have had pro-lifers as terrorists.
‘While the BBC’s natural history programming is often inspiring, it is impossible for a wildlife programme to look objectively at the wonder of nature. The audience are treated like small children in a school-room, always having to be reminded that the animals ‘developed’, ‘evolved’, or ‘appeared’.
‘When the BBC decided to make a programme about language, they had to get the anti-Christian atheist homosexual Stephen Fry to present it.
‘When they wanted to look at anthropology, it was only natural to them to seek out the fanatical evolutionist Dr Alice Roberts. In ‘The Origins of Us‘ we had vacuous subjective claims that our ape-like ancestors apparently miraculously (something in which perhaps only a minority at the BBC would believe) decided to walk upright in search of food as they surveyed the African savannah, and that our tools moulded the shape of our hands, rather than the other way around. The lack of objectivity and the amount of unfounded speculation makes such programmes rather silly but the BBC’s atheist oligarchy press on regardless.
‘The vision of Lord Reith was of a BBC which would elevate viewers with whatever things were pure, lovely and of good report and to promote virtue. He set this vision in stone.
‘As they shuffle past the declaration in the entrance to Broadcasting House, the atheists in charge at the BBC seem intent on promoting the very opposite. An opportunity to sneer at Christianity or Christians is rarely allowed to pass.
‘Obviously the BBC will have no overt recruiting policy that puts Christians at a disadvantage. It is more subtle than that. The BBC simply appears to be a self-perpetuating atheist oligarchy, and it will take a miracle akin to that of those fabled ancestors walking upright before there is any change.’
PRAY: For the BBC’s Christians to be given faith in the conquering King of kings and courage to stand up for all they believe. Pray for a miracle in the management, that God would be honoured once again so that the words inscribed in the Broadcasting House entrance hall would become an inspiration.
The Broadcasting House Inscription, set in Latin for all to see, above a statue of ‘The Sower’:
DEI OMNIPOTENTI TEMPLUM HOC ARTIUM ET MUSARUM ANNO DOMINI MCMXXXI RECTORE JOHANNI REITH PRIMI DEDICANT GUBERNATORES PRECANTES UT MESSEM BONAM BONA PROFERAT SEMENTIS UT IMMUNDA OMNIA ET INIMICA PACI EXPELLANTUR UT QUAECUNQUE PULCHRA SUNT ET SINCERA QUACUNQUE BONAE FAMAE AD HAEC AVREM INCLINANS POPULUS VIRTUTIS ET SAPIENTIAE SEMITAM INSISTAT.
‘To Almighty God this shrine of the arts, music and literature is dedicated by the first Governors in the year of our Lord 1931, John Reith being Director General. It is their prayer that good seed sown will produce a good harvest, that everything offensive to decency and hostile to peace will be expelled, and that the nation will incline its ear to those things which are lovely, pure and of good report and thus pursue the path of wisdom and virtue’.