Culture Media Sport

The BBC, Usain Bolt and Anti-Christian Bias

This article appeared on the Premier Christianity website – HERE

The BBC’s decision to ignore Usain Bolt’s faith is another sign of anti-Christian bias

David Robertson responds to the controversy surrounding the BBC’s lack of reporting on the faith of Christian athletes at the Olympics



Have you heard of Daniel Smith? He is a member of the Australian Olympic 4x200m freestyle relay team and his story is an inspiration.

Smith was a homeless drug addict who became a Christian and ended up at the Olympics. As have a lot of other Christians such as Shaune Miller – the 400m gold winner from Barbados who said, “I just give God all the thanks and praise” orChristine Ohuruogu, British 400m runner who said, “Even if it doesn’t go too well, you still give thanks regardless.” How about David Boudia and Steele Johnson, American diving champions – “We both know our identity is in Christ”?

It seems as though I am reading or hearing about yet another victorious Christian athlete every day….except on the BBC. At least that is the accusation, but is it a fair one?

The BBC are at the Olympics to cover sport, not to facilitate evangelism for the Christian church. And they have sometimes allowed athletes to express their thanks to God on TV. So is this complaint just another example of hyper-sensitive Christians seeking a persecution narrative?

I wondered about this until I heard about Usain Bolt. I didn’t know until recently thatUsain Bolt is a professing Christian. He prays and gives thanks to God, before and after each event, which he inevitably wins.

As I write I have just been listening to BBC Radio 4’s main news programme which headlined with Bolt winning the 200m gold and went on to do an in depth interview about his background, similar to this piece. What is extraordinary about both the radio piece and the article is that they do not mention Bolt’s faith at all! Is this because the BBC regards such expressions of faith as just cultural – it’s just typical of black athletes to thank God in the same way that they thank their mum? Or is there a more conscious bias? I am somewhat reluctantly inclined to think that it is the latter.

When Bolt fell on his knees to thank God after he had won, the BBC presenter talked about it being “a moment to himself” when it was clearly the opposite. It was an act of public worship which would have been condemned as crass and distasteful if it had been an ordinary mortal. But because it is a hero then it has to be explained away as something else.

Try a wee thought experiment: Imagine if Usain Bolt was gay or transgender. Do you think the BBC would have ignored that?! Or if Eric Liddell (Chariots of Fire) was running today, how do you think the BBC would cover his refusal to run on a Sunday?

Airbrushing out Christianity

I think the problem here is that the BBC has moved far away from its Christian heritage and has become the Secular Broadcasting Corporation. This would be fine if it meant neutral and fair reporting, but in reality it is coming to mean the airbrushing out of Christianity from mainstream culture. This is cultural supremacy, not neutrality. It is the manifestation in the media of Alaister Campbell’s “we don’t do God” statement.

This is not just confined to the BBC. If you were a fan of ITV’s Downton Abbey you may have noticed that they never showed the start of a family meal. Why? Because in order to be authentic they would have had to show the family saying grace – and they couldn’t have prayer on primetime TV. They even questioned whether the show could be called Downton Abbey because of the religious connotations of the name!

There is both a subconscious and a conscious attempt by the cultural, media, educational and political elites in the UK to sideline or remove Christianity from the narrative. I recently read an academic book about the history of my city, Dundee, which managed to discuss every aspect of the cities life throughout the ages, from economics and politics to sport and music, but made no reference to Christianity, despite its significance in the history of the city. Why? Here there was a subconscious prejudice. Because Christianity does not feature in the lives of the modern writers they just cannot conceive how it would be possible for it to feature in the lives of others. It is a closed minded and culturally ignorant perspective.

There is both a subconscious and a conscious attempt by the cultural, media, educational and political elites in the UK to sideline or remove Christianity from the narrative.

 While I suspect that most bias is of the subconscious “everything gets filtered through my worldview” type, there is also the more conscious discrimination against Christianity (including the deliberate avoidance of anything to do with Usain Bolt’s Christian faith). This is part of a wider trend. I laughed when I heard about the African Children’s choir who were due to perform at the Scottish parliament and were told by an official “no songs about Jesus”, to which they responded “all our songs are about Jesus!”

Establishment bias

I have no doubt that there is an establishment bias against real Christianity. The establishment don’t mind, and indeed encourage, their own version of Christianity – the nice religious organisations who know their place, acquiesce in the state’s new found absolute morality, provide appropriate non-challenging ceremonies, look after old buildings, and help provide social welfare in times of “austerity”.  But they really don’t like any evidence of real Christianity being displayed in the main cultural arenas of our day.

I was once told by a BBC producer that I was not allowed to use the phrase “Britain’s traditional Christian values” because it would be deemed “offensive” by some people. Such Orwellian thought and speech control is self consciously deliberate.

It may be the case that in some cultures (ie. the US, Africa, South America) it is the customary cultural thing to thank God after a sporting victory (one hopes that real Christians would also be able to thank him when they lose!), but it appears that in the UK such an act is akin to that of Jessee Owens’s raised fist in the 1936 games in Nazi Germany! Perhaps we need more such acts of cultural defiance in order to break the monocultural outlook of those who deem themselves to be the guardians of culture, politics and “secular” values? Perhaps when we are presented with sport as the ultimate glory and salvation, we need to use this false idol to point to the real Saviour.

Footnote:  Some of the comments about this article seem to be by people who have not read it or have read it through their prejudged glasses!  The article is not claiming persecution of Christians because an athletes faith is not mentioned. It is claiming that there is an evident bias in the BBC and other media outlets, where Christianity is airbrushed out of the picture (unless of course it is to criticise).  The evidence provided in the article is clear.  I wish that people would disagree or argue against what IS being said, not against what is not being said!


Whilst it is true that we have freedom to express and proclaim our faith, we should not be complacent. That freedom is a consequence of Christianity. Remove the Christianity and I doubt the freedom will remain. Ignorance leads to prejudice, prejudice leads to bias, bias leads to discrimination, discrimination leads to mockery, suppression and eventually persecution. It is simplistic and unwise to suggest that because the persecution is not here just now, we should ignore the steps towards it that have already been taken.



  1. The lugubrious Will Self recently presented a sad little series of programmes on Radio4 (which, to be honest, I only half listened to while painting the windows) on the meaning of life – “Self’s search for meaning”.

    It was billed as, “Will Self asks some of Britain’s key opinion makers to share their conclusions about the nature and meaning of life.” It was just a series of short interviews with the great and not so great, and to be honest most regarded the topic as a bit of a joke. (I wouldn’t bother to listen to it on iPlayer; watching paint dry would be of more value).

    There was some mention of “religion”, and inevitably a short interview with David Icke, just to re-inforce the message that all religions are of that ilk.

    I don’t recall the name of the one who claimed to be “The Light of the World” being mentioned even once during the whole series, although I could have missed it!

    The only vaguely “Christian” bit was when he wheeled out dear old Rowan Williams, the previous A B of C, who was even more dense and incomprehensible than usual, and completely unable to give Self any coherent answers to his questions (although to be fair such interviews are usually heavily edited as when I did a recorded interview with Winifred Robinson on “Call you and yours”. I quoted verse 12 from Psalm 90 but it was removed from the broadcast version).

    Self’s conclusion at the end of the last programme was unsurprising.

    The BBC claims that it must be “balanced” in its output, yet this was the most unbalanced anti-Christian programme which I have half-listened to for a long time. David is right – there is a real establishment bias against Christianity and an attempt to air brush it out.

    But then, “This is the verdict: light has come into the world, but men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil”.

  2. That’s interesting, Didn’t know that about Usain Bolt until now.

    Hmm – it’s a tricky one with the bias.

    If I were to try to be objective about this, I perhaps would consider Muslim olympians and are they getting a more favourable report by the BBC than Christians. I’ve not watched enough of the Olympics to give an informed opinion about that.

    I’m balancing this with a disliking of the currency to be had for having a victim mentality and taking offence in the culture we are in. The expectation to always be comfortable and respected for an opinion held is not what I subscribe to. Rather that we all have unconscious bias and are tempted to or do hold conscious bias and any engagement with differing views is inevitable going to result in some discomfort and also a broadening of horizons. And some opinions are just plain silly or wrong. It could be me or someone else who holds such opinion for time to time.

    Realistically however with Christianity being in the minority and the BBC being funded by a license paying secular majority would it be any surprise if the reporting reflected this with both unconscious and conscious bias?

    I suppose the Christian has a choice – whether to say the “joy of the Lord is my strength” and not depend on human approval or to become despondent about it. The “laid back” Usain Bolt doesn’t seem to be too bothered by it all and whatever happens, nothing is going to change what is written about Jesus saying that he came to give you life and life in it’s fullest and if you are hated for association with him remember that he was hated first and there is a great reward in heaven for that.

  3. It’s a consistent pattern by the Beeb, David. They are happy to include some token Christian content (e.g. Songs of Praise) provided it is confined to its own silo, and has nothing to do with the real world. Certainly, it would be unhelpful to allow any suggestion that Christians participate at the highest levels in our culture.

    They did it again, recently, in the documentary on James Clerk Maxwell. How our greatest scientist’s life could be presented without reference to the faith that drove him, I do not know – but they managed it. Now, if he’d been gay, that would be entirely a different matter…

  4. One need only look at how the BBC showcased and focused upon Ibtihaj Muhammad’s Islamism to see that there is a strong anti-Christian bias in play.

      1. I agree. They would not, but I guess at the Olympics their nationality would. And if it’s a men’s or women’s event, their gender.
        But how about answering my question since I answered yours

      2. Actually they do. Which was my point. Why mention many things about the athletes but leave out their faith? Read the rest of the article….

      3. Their faith has nothing to do with his running at the Olympics or reporting on his running. You are manufacturing bias and bigotry where none exists.

      4. You are missing the point….the athletes themselves do think, rightly or wrongly that their faith does matter. The BBC and others think that many things about them matter…why leave out what the athletes themselves think is important? Of course there is bias….it is only your bias and prejudice that prevents you seeing that!

      5. I don’t spend my life in front of a computer. I get far more posts and e-mails than I can respond to. I am quite happy to extend you the courtesy of making your point on here and I was going to get round to posting them when I had the time – they were in a holding until Monday. Sadly you have abused that courtesy and written lies about me on your own blog. Thats your perogative – and those who wish to read your musings can go there. But I will not be responding to your posts any further. I don’t respond to lies. If you want to engage in a civilised conversation then next time consider what you write and avoid the lies. If you wish to rant, mock and lie then there is your own blog or any number of atheist pages. I’m afraid it won’t be posted here.

      6. For many people in any field or career choice, their faith is very important to them. So to say it has nothing to do with it is at best myopic. There are so many competing athletes who have had to overcome injury, economic hardship and political obstacles to get to the Olympics in the first place, so if their Christian faith is integral to their story, then it should be respected and reported.

        Just because you choose to dismiss the well made points in this article about the BBC’s increasingly left-wing, anti-Christian agenda doesn’t stop it from existing.

      7. The fact that their faith is very important to them does not mean it is a Responsibility for media to report on it in the context of a Sporting event. Has nothing to do with the running at all or the reporting on it.

      8. That is not the point of the article. The argument is not that the media have a responsibility to state the faith of the people involved in athletics. The argument is that those who regard their faith as being of supreme importance in their life, should not have that airbrushed out. The media are quite happy to mention many other aspects of an individual’s personal life, so why leave out what they themselves consider to be most important? It is a cultural bias.

      9. My point was… that your point, that the media have a responsibility to report on the Faith of athletes in a Sporting event, is dead wrong. And the charge of bias if they don’t is just childish complaining that the media doesn’t preach the gospel for you. Have a great day and week

      10. The trouble with your point is that you are answering a point I did not make! I did not say, and do not argue that the media have a responsibility to report on the fate of athletes in a sporting event. If you’re going to comment on any of my articles I would suggest you actually read them first and think about what is being said.

      11. “in February 2007 it was widely reported that Edwards had lost his faith in God. The Daily Mail described Edwards as a “man deeply troubled by the collapse of his Christian faith” but revealed that a friend said “They still go to church as a family”.[17][18] The Daily Mail article also quoted Edwards as saying that he was going through a difficult period in his life, one that was deeply personal to him and his family such that he did not wish to comment on it.[17]

        In an interview in The Times in June 2007, Edwards said:

        If there is no God, does that mean that life has no purpose? Does it mean that personal existence ends at death? They are thoughts that do my head in.”

        It seems the secular Times and Daily Mail considered a matter of faith important enough to report. Given that these are not religious publications, it can’t be argued convincingly that it was a positive bias to faith that contributed to the reports.

        Kia, would there be a report about Jonathan Edwards and faith if he not been a famous triple jumper? And if not then it seems, does it not, in the eyes of the times and Daily Mail his being an athlete and linking that with faith was worthy of reporting.

        So why should an Olympiad’s faith have anything to do with their sport of the reporting thereof you have asked? I don’t know, have you asked any Olympians or the media about that?

  5. David – thank you for this excellent article and the material on Usain Bolt. As part of my work I do a sixth form conference on celebrity culture and Christian faith and I will certainly use these stories. Thanks

  6. Shaunae Miller is from the Bahamas. Glad to see Jesse Owens appears in the blog version! Although as far as I’m aware he never raised his fist at the 1936 Berlin Olympics – that is probably a confusion with the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. And to give a degree of balance, a number of athletes have been interviewed post event expressing their faith in God at some level and this has not been ‘airbrushed out’. However it is strange when more in depth articles or documentaries are made and an athlete’s faith (or anyone elses for that matter) is not mentioned at all.

  7. Two other, high-achieving, Olympians not mentioned by David are Katie Ledecky and Simone Biles. Ledecky is a five-time Olympic gold medalist, and nine-time world champion. She is the current world-record holder in the women’s 400-, 800-, and 1,500-metre freestyle. Biles is the 2016 Olympic individual all-around, vault and floor gold medalist. Ledecky said in a recent interview: “My Catholic faith is very important to me. It always has been and it always will be. It is part of who I am and I feel comfortable practising my faith. It helps me put things in perspective.” She also confirmed that she says a “Hail Mary” before each event. “I do say a prayer – or two – before any race. The Hail Mary is a beautiful prayer and I find that it calms me.” After her adoption by her grandparents, Simone Biles has called Nellie and Ron Biles “mom and dad.” She attends Sunday Mass with her parents, and regularly lights a candle to St. Sebastian, the patron saint of athletes, before big events.
    Clearly, their Catholic faith is seen by both athletes as an important part of their success. Did the mainstream media mention any of this? Ledecky attended Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart. Sacred Heart? “I got away with mentioning Stone Ridge School but don’t mention the Sacred Heart” might be what was in the mind of one American newspaper:
    However, it seems that there was one story involving Christianity which was reported in a way which included the religious element.

  8. If an athlete kneels down on the ground to thank God the media can report that as ‘having a moment to himself’. There’s nothing visible in what the athlete has done which makes it beyond any doubt that he is thanking God. However, there is a long-established sign which Christians have used to declare their faith publicly. This is the Sign of the Cross. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (died AD 386) in his “Catecheses” (xiii, 36) remarked: “let us then not be ashamed to confess the Crucified. Be the cross our seal, made with boldness by our fingers on our brow and in everything; over the bread we eat and the cups we drink, in our comings and in goings; before our sleep, when we lie down and when we awake; when we are travelling, and when we are at rest”. Many footballers and athletes make the sign of the cross in public.
    I can’t be sure that it is always done for the right religious reasons but it is difficult for the media not to show it and viewers will generally understand what it means. Unfortunately, if you make the Sign of the Cross at a certain football stadium you might get into trouble.
    Again, it is impossible to know Boruc’s motives and if he did it merely to annoy certain football supporters then his action can be condemned. But who is to say what his motive was?
    An article I read recently suggested that a very simple form of evangelism which every Catholic could employ would be using the Sign of the Cross before eating a meal in a restaurant. Members of Orthodox Churches also use the Sign of the Cross. I don’t understand what problem some Christians have with its use.

  9. Western media often lambastes countries like Russia, China and North Korea for their state controlled propaganda, but organisations like the BBC are not much different as they continually push their secular agenda and determinedly try to reshape what the key tenants of the Christian faith should be. Like the writer of this great article observes, charity work is acceptable – preaching and Biblical observance is not!

    The fact that there are still so many devout professing Biblical Christians that observe and reflect the Word of God with their lives is a source of frustration for those who had thought that the predictions about the demise of the Christian faith would have come to pass by now.

  10. My favourite part of the article was “Try a wee thought experiment: Imagine if Usain Bolt was gay or transgender. Do you think the BBC would have ignored that?!
    Man, The BBC would of been all over it like a rash. The mention of Usain Bolt being Gay or transgender would of been mentioned 1000 times at least by BBC and other commentators. Gay pride flags all over the stadium and you call us bias – Oh please !
    Don’t worry to much as your not alone in the U.K. Here in Australia our version of the BBC is The ABC, known as the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
    Today the same the thing has heppened here in Oz, for the ABC has definitely become the Atheist Broadcasting Corporation.

  11. Everywhere in the West the media are dominated by Cultural Marxists, an ideology that is contemptuous of European peoples and our culture– especially Christianity. As Patrick Buchanan says: anti-Catholicism is the only PC-acceptable form of bigotry today.

  12. I don’t know Bolt, but I have spent enough time in Jamaica to know that everyone in Jamaica is a Christian. In the sense that they all identify as Christian. Depending where you live on the island you will either be Methodist of one sort or another, SDA or even Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland (whether it is a real one or not I don’t know but I passed a building with that on the sign once). Jamaica is 100% culturally Christian, which actually makes it harder to spot committed Christians. In Scotland it is a lot easier.

  13. Annette Edmonson, Australian Olympic cyclist, met a Brazilian girl she sponsored for 10 years through World Vision. She’d asked her parents to start it instead of a 14th birthday present;

    No mention in the report, of Worlg Vision being a Christian Organisation.

  14. Given today’s front page on The Sun, I am not sure what to do with Ussain Bolt. Celevbrity christians are a mixed blessing because they can so easily fall off their pillars. I remember Glen Hoddle beiong touted as a christian on christian promotional videos and then turned round and advocated reincarnation. It can potentially become a can of worms.

  15. Weeflea, God is with you and your article speaks the truth.

    As a Christian it only takes a reading of the Bible to know that the persecution will continue and that it is inevitable. These are all signs of the installation of a single world government and leadership, in the end God is in control.

    For those who doubt and do not want to seek God with their heart and soul, and prefer intellect instead. Next time you do anything from read a national newspaper,
    to watch a commercial, to watch a movie, see for yourself if you spot any of the following agendas being subliminally and sometimes obviously communicated to you:

    – LGBT. Gays are as common and the same as man and woman.
    – Feminism. The demeaning of men or the image of the women being more powerful.
    – Marriage and family being irrelevant. Promiscuity being the replacement.
    – Globalism. We are all the same and we should all be together and live together.
    – Anti-CHRISTIAN. The mocking of Christ and/or the reference to those who believe in God as crazy. Essentially the dismissal of such as people.
    – Occult worship. Pyramids, single eye, eye in the pyramid, baphomet (goat devil), as well as several other symbols. This is satanic occult worship and these symbols are clearly evident in all aspects of life especially music and Hollywood.
    – Transhumanism. Genetic modification, cloning, and the pursuit of combining man with machine.
    – Posthumous resurrection through CGI. Actors being recreated with CGI after their death, without their permission most of the time.

    Dismiss me, I don’t mind because I know who I belong to and where I am going. Do not say you were not warned if you have read this. Everything I have written above has been alluded to in the Bible and signifies that we are slowly but surely moving towards end times. Those that do not agree with the agendas above will eventually if not already be vilified and labeled ‘intolerant’, and this is only the beginning.

    May Christ redeem us all.
    God bless

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