Faith organisations have welcomed a report that says the BBC should increase its coverage of religious issues, amid concerns that some of the report’s findings are “bizarre” in an increasingly secular society.
The BBC’s religion and ethics review, released recently, recommended increasing coverage of non-Christian faiths, introducing faith-related story lines into popular drama, incorporating greater religious understanding into news reporting, and creating a global team of reporters with religious expertise, under its first religion editor.
It also committed the BBC to continue with Thought for the Day, the three-minute slot on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme in which religious figures reflect on current events.
Church of England leaders were pleased with the conclusions of the review. “We look forward to seeing how [the BBC’s] commitment to first-class coverage of religious affairs develops in its sophistication and scope in the months and years ahead,” said Graham James, the bishop of Norwich.
Jan McFarlane, the bishop of Repton and chair of the Sandford St Martin Trust, which promotes religious programming, said the report emphasised “the importance of religious literacy in understanding our world”.
“The BBC’s research has shown that the public realise that we need to understand other faiths in order to live together peacefully in our world,” McFarlane said.
The report was also welcomed by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and Mona Siddiqui, a professor of Islamic studies at Edinburgh University.
But the Humanists UK charity said it was disappointed that non-religious commentators would not be included in the line-up of Thought for the Day presenters.
Andrew Copson, the organisation’s chief executive, said: “In the past the BBC’s religion and belief output, including Thought for the Day, has focused exclusively on organised religion and has failed to reflect the reality of religion and belief in the UK today. As a result this programming has been increasingly out of touch.
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