Unchristian comments about BBC’s new head of religion?
The publicly funded broadcaster has appointed Aaqil Ahmed from Channel 4, a move that has dismayed a Church of England member who is proposing to discuss the matter at the church’s General Synod, the church’s parliament.
Nigel Holmes, a former BBC employee and lay member of the synod, has tabled a private members’ motion for the upcoming meeting in July.
In a document to go with the motion, which has to attract 100 signatures to be discussed, he accused Ahmed of heading up a Channel 4 religious department that was sensationalist and biased against Christianity.
“Many of the Channel 4 programmes concerned with Christianity, in contrast to those featuring other faiths, seem to be of a sensationalist or unduly critical nature,” he wrote.
“From this point of view it is worrying that the Channel 4 religion and multicultural commissioning editor, Aaqil Ahmed, who is a Muslim is soon to be responsible for all the religious output from the BBC.”
He also said BBC coverage of religious affairs had been falling over the years, and the BBC 3 output covered religion “from the angle of the freak show”.
“We have lost so much and there is now hardly any religion on television in peak time and no programmes with a moral dimension aimed at young people either on radio or television,” he wrote.
The motion calls on the BBC and its regulator to explain why religious and ethical issues had become so “marginalised”.
In a separate criticism, a former Radio 2 religious presenter said the corporation only focused on gay clergy stories about the Anglican church, and paedophile stories in connection with the Catholic church, the Daily Mail newspaper reported.
Don Maclean, 66, who hosted “Good Morning Sunday” for 16 years before being replaced by Aled Jones, said programming chiefs were keen to take a ‘negative angle at every opportunity’ in a way they do not with other faiths like Islam, the paper added.
“They seem to take the negative angle every time,” he was quoted as saying. “They don’t do that if they’re doing programmes on Islam. Programmes on Islam are always supportive.”
The BBC said in a statement that Ahmed was appointed because he was “the best qualified candidate”.
It said its commitment to religious and ethics broadcasting was “unequivocal”.
“As the majority faith of the UK, Christians are and will remain a central audience for the BBC’s religious and ethics television and other output. We regularly exceed our formal commitments to religious programming on both BBC One and BBC Two,” it added.
“On radio our commitment to quality Christian programming is as strong as it’s ever been with over 450 hours of content broadcast each year.”