Is the BBC Christophobic?

Another week…another BBC mockumentary about wacko right wing fringe ‘Christians’ in the US.  The fact that it was put out on BBC 3 means that one could normally just ignore it as would 99% of the rest of the population, but with the I-Player and the internet, this kind of thing soon gets spread around and is used to fuel the anti-Christian self-rightousness of the metro-elites.  So I squirmed through it.  Click the link if you want to watch it for yourself –

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p049v0dm/americas-hate-preachers

Of course the programme was a complete set up.    70% of the US population profess to be Christian – some 250 million people.   25% are evangelical – about 80 million people.  There will of course be some in that large and varied group who will be extremist and unhinged. There are far right political groups who will use Christianity….but the Westboro Baptists and Steven Anderson types are a tiny minority of a tiny minority.  It is doubtful whether there are more than 10,000 in the whole US. That is one in every 8000 evangelicals might belong to one of these groups.  And yet the BBC, not for the first time, choose to focus on this 0.001%.

I had come across Steven Anderson before.  He is an arrogant wicked and somewhat unhinged man.  Like most of these groups he is a self publicist who thrives off the controversy and gets a kick out of the outrage of millions and the devotion of tens. The video below shows the level of craziness involved.

 

Once I realised that the mockumentary was going to be about him, I knew that it would be bad, but I didn’t grasp quite how bad.  This was nothing less that sheer anti-Christian propaganda.  If you want to know how to do this follow these guidelines:

  1. Exaggerate the size and threat of the people you are ‘investigating.   Hannah Livingston spent six months in the US and I guess she had to justify her money by making her subjects appear to be more interesting, threatening and significant than they really are.   She did not give us any figures other than Stephen Anderson’s congregation is three times the normal size American church (100 people) and that he is part of a growing network.  No attempt at all was made to set it in any kind of numerical, historical or social context.  But that was not really the purpose.   We were told that his youtube videos had 125,000 hits and he has had 30 million ‘hits’ overall.  In the world of the internet these are small figures.   I’ve had over a million hits on this one blog!  It means very little.  And hits do not equate to supporters…I suspect that most of Andersons are gay rights supporters, atheistic secularists and other voyeurs (like me)  who have been sent their to see how bad ‘Christians’ are.

2.  Present your case in the simpliest black and white terms.   On the one hand show the nasty hate filled ranting preacher and his ignorant followers.  On the other show shiny happy gay pride marchers whose only desire is to have fun and for everyone to love one another.  Its not subtle but it works.   Its very black and white because that is the way the world is…as Mr Bush said ‘you’re either on the side of the good empire, or the evil one’.

3. Make sure that everyone understands you are on the side of the good guys.  This is not a documentary seeking to understand.  It is a mockumentary seeking to demonise.  Make sure you put in plenty of virtual signalling, showing how sympathetic and loving you are to the ‘right’ side and how horrified you are by the evil ones.

4. Finally – if you want your documentary to have an effect on the folks back home, leave the implication hanging that this is where Christianity really leads you.  Don’t state it, because its not true…but just leave the idea hanging.  This is an idea that as worked very well in the past.  Der Sturmer for example was very good at telling stories about bad Jews, which were easily taken up as being typical of most if not every Jew.

The irony about all of this is that the very thing that the programme rightly accused Steven Anderson and his followers of, demonising those who don’t agree with them, is the very thing that this programme does.  Oh, not in the shouty ranty way that Anderson does.  They don’t need to – they have the camera, the money and editorial control.  No, the way to demonise is to stigmatise, encourage prejudice and leave the impression that there are only two ways to look at any subject; yours and the extremist nutters on the other side.

I suppose the justification for making such programmes is to say that you seek to neutralise such extremists by exposing them.  But that excuse completely fails because as the programme points out “they positively thrive on negative reactions from society” .  So the BBC are actually giving this group what they so desperately need – the oxygen of publicity.  Rather than help defeat such evil, the BBC feeds it. Thats why Steven Anderson declared on his Facebook page that he ‘loved’ the documentary – although he was a bit cross about being lumped in with Donald Trump!

Meanwhile Channel 4 can give public money to Richard Dawkins to make a series of anti-religious programmes ‘the root of all evil’ and so the prejudice is fed and sustained.    The BBC feeds the oxygen of publicity to ‘Christian’ hate groups who have been rejected by Christians and the Church and who desperately need it to recruit their few followers, and yet the BBC largely avoids giving publicity to real Christian groups who are working away in their communities seeking to bring the love of Christ and challenge the prevailing culture.

‘Don’t be ridiculous’ – I hear the nice people cry.   Everyone can see these are just silly extremists.  No-one takes them seriously and no-one will link most Christians to them.  You are kidding!  We live in such a dumbed down society that the link is automatically made.  Whether it is Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion claiming that teaching a child the bible is worse than child sexual abuse and that all religion inevitably leads to this kind of thing, or at the more populist level the school kids who yell at me for being a Christian because they have seen ‘Westboro Baptist’ on the Telly, the effect is all the same.    Without going to the more militant atheistic secular websites I know the narrative that is already being spread there.  This is a gifthorse for them.  “See, we told you, this is where religion leads – lets spread the word…make sure as many kids as possible get to see this…”

I wonder if the BBC would make a similar documentary about Jews or Muslims in the US?  Of course not and neither should they.  But why are Christians the only ones to be given this ‘special treatment’?

Hannah Livingston describes Anderson and his like as “preachers prepared to shout at anyone who does not fit their model of a Christian”.  I agree.  But I would like to suggest that they are worse than that (making a mockery of the Christ they profess to follow) and that moreover Hannah and the BBC are in danger of doing the same thing.   They are prepared to mock and demonise anyone who does not fit their model of a civilised human being.  Worse than that – they are determined to create a black and white world, in which only their point of view is considered normal.  Every other view is demonised, no matter the consequences.

I was recently asked to take part in a campaign which highlighted the danger of Christophobia.   I was unsure…but the BBC have made my mind up.  I’m in!   I was once banned from taking part in a BBC Thought for the Day because I wanted to use the phrase ‘Britain’s Christian traditions’.  The producer thought this was too offensive.  On the other hand the BBC see nothing offensive at all about equating millions of Christians in this country with a tiny extremist right wing fringe hate group in the US.   It sure sounds, smells and tastes like Christophobia to me.    ‘Americas Hate Preachers’ is a programme that will feed Britains Christophobic hate secularists.   Lord Reith would be proud!

Perhaps I need to be a wee bit more nuanced.  I think that the BBC produces some wonderful work and most of my what I listen to is on the BBC.  There has also been some superb BBC programmes on Christianity.  So I think it would be fair to say that the whole of the BBC is not Christophobic but that the underlying cultural bias means that much of it is.  I could give many personal examples.   I recall the TV producer who after asking me to take part in a show withdrew the invitation because I was ‘too sensible’.  They had wanted a fire breathing Free Church minister who they could mock.   Or the radio producer who removed me from a radio slot under pressure from people outside.  And finally I recorded  a show for BBC radio where an atheist journalist and I discussed the resurrection. The producer said it was a superb 30 minute radio show but she doubted she would be allowed to broadcast it without significant change.  She was right. Her bosses said that they wanted more ‘balance’ and so they asked a liberal priest to take part, cut the conversation, reduced my part to less than seven minutes and in effect changed the whole programme.  This is so often what happens. ‘balance’ means exclusion if you are not part of the liberal metanarrative.  They are quite happy to talk about you, less keen to let you talk for yourself!

This is the complaint I sent to the BBC – feel free to join me by just going to the BBC website and following how to make a complaint.  Please don’t make a complaint if you have not watched the show!

The programme ‘America’s Hate Preachers’ was a shallow and superficial sensationalist mockumentary of a tiny group of right wing wackos describing themselves as Christians. The programme was itself sensationalist and biased in that it only seemed to allow for two positions, on the one hand the loving and tolerant gay pride and on the other bigoted Christians. There was no nuance and very little information.

We were not told how many American Christians support these groups – fewer than 10,000out of 200 million! Instead we were given statements about how these are ‘growing networks’ as though this were something to be feared. The whole programme will have the effect of stirring up hatred against Christians in this country. I should know. I go into schools and children who know nothing about Christianity see fit to condemn, yell and abuse me as being “Westboro Baptist’ – because of what they have seen on TV or the internet.

Would the BBC have made such a programme about an extremist Jewish fringe? Or Islamic? I very much doubt it. So why waste six months and a great deal of money making a programme (which has been made before several times – eg Louis Theroux) except as at best a lesson in virtue signalling and at worst another attempt to mock Christians and stir up prejudice and hatred against us.

There is such a thing as Christophobia and this programme exemplifies it. It was also counter productive. As Hannah points out these extremist fringe groups ‘positively thrive on negative reactions from society” and so the BBC helpfully provide them with the oxygen of publicity they so desperately need. This means that those of us who are trying to combat the hatred of such groups and the hatred of militant secularists find ourselves being sidelined yet again – as the BBC plumbs the depths of the lunatic fringe in order at best boost ratings and at worst encourage prejudice.

 

 

 

 

 

16 thoughts on “Is the BBC Christophobic?

  1. Good call. Between this shockingly biased programme and the BBC’s earlier propaganda effort called “United States of Hate: Muslims under Attack” it doesn’t take a genius to work out where their Christian-hating agenda is taking this country. Stop paying them their fee, I say.

  2. David, you are so right about the BBC’s stealth Christophobic tactics. We watched an Ann Robinson programme last night about parenting. Every kind of parenting was met with smiles and interest other than the Christian family. The non-verbal obvious disgust shown by Ms Robinson was blatant. Perhaps not surprisingly given the male headship being demonstrated she was incredulous that in any way his wife might consider herself submissive to her husband and their children’s obvious considerate and obedient behaviour was mocked as repressive. In a more sinister way the camera seemed obsessed that while on a “date” with his daughter they held hands. Read unhealthy attachment or even incest. The BBC have become past masters at this kind of abuse of TV privilege denigrating Christians and Christian worldview. It makes me think of how one group belittles another until society can tolerate them no longer. Then the persecution. It is only a matter of time.

  3. Increasingly more and more programmes whether dramas, sit-coms or the like are using the name ‘Christ’ in a non-glorifying way as script writers are given license to knowingly offend millions of viewers. It is amazing (not really – a hint of sarcasm) how quickly other names are labelled homophobic or Islamophobic and no doubt do not pass the gaze of censorship. Rightly so when those names are knowingly going to cause offence but time after time the glorious name ‘Jesus Christ’ somehow does not come under such scrutiny. Why is that? It is because the BBC is not aware of the offence it is causing? I don’t think so since it seems able to denounce offence wherever else it sees it! Is it because they are not aware of how throughout history Christianity brought reform to prisons, freedom from slavery, enhanced academic opportunities for millions, better care and attention to those battling mental illness, and so hardly the belief and behaviour of extreme expressions of Christianity? I don’t think so given some of the wonderful historically accurate period dramas that have appeared. There are many reasons why the name ‘Jesus Christ’ is not edited from scripts in the knowledge that it will cause offence when used in frequent, blatant non-glorifying ways. One is that Christianity is an easy target. Another is that a focus on such minority extreme expressions of Christianity can help by way of sustaining a distraction by the BBC on its own failed self-censorship in not dealing with those who for years perpetuated predatory and vile practices on vulnerable children and adults. We all know that ‘mud sticks’, so one of the best ways to deal with it is throw more somewhere else. I wonder if enough Christians (millions) would be willing enough to forgo TV viewing, hence not need a TV license and then there would be less money in the pot to make such Christophobic programmes! I for one am willing!!

  4. Yet another reason why, for several years, we have not bought a TV licence and don’t watch the TV. Why would a Christian pay good money to an organisation that is blatantly anti-Christian and pro so much that God opposes.

  5. I’ll not watch the prog thank you.

    Does the BBC merely reflect society? Or does it lead and influence? Both I’d say.

    What passes as a “documentary” is frequently little more than “investigative journalism” an expose, dressed up. It ends up exposing the pre-existing prejudices of the journalist.

    But as you say David, it is almost subliminal prejucial propogander, unless “called out” as you’ve done.

    Specifics beome generalisations and “tarring with the same brush.”

    The key question to evaluate any prog is the impression left. Or, in the modern vernacular, the take home message.

    All the impression are cumulative, from drama to documentary, from comedy to creativity, from news to nasties, from sex to soaps, from evaluative editorial, to editorial edit, from programme to ideological promotion. Anti- Christ.

    Stuff I used to find to find funny is now exposed as puerile and sterile, double entendre reduce to single. From taboo busting to taboo creating. Christ Jesus – the new, latest and last and lasting taboo, unmentionable in polite and political circles- from reverence to ridicule. Anti-Christ. Christ, the conversation stopper. Christ the antagonist, the stirrer of hatred, and hostility, stirrer up of rejection and ridicule. Was it ever thus. Anti-Christ.

    Like a magnetic poles Christ attracts or repels. Even with those devotionally, unbelieving, non religious as well as the religious. We are all the same (unless transformed by Him) Anti Christ. All seeking to be our own saviours – Anti- Christ.

    Robust Christians like Martin Bashir need our support and prayers

  6. Ps, An after-thought. I have too many of them.

    Samuel, would it not be better for a group of Christian BBC viewers, watch all BBC progs. to critique and provide the evidence so beloved by all. After all, don’t they love focus groups?

    The predicted responses would be bland generalised denials, not unlike Russia’s current responses. They know they don’t have to do anything as their own strategy is being effective, regardless. They don’t listen.

    One true test of listening is follow-up action, change . It ultimately, reveals agreement or disagreement.

    And John. We did too, for some years. But we need to see the scale of what is happening. We get some of that through papers, and the net. The BBC continues to influence. Are we not to be in the world, but not of it? The danger for me is that something abhorent comes out of the blue in something I’m watching before I switch off or over. And it’s turning me into a grumpy old man, railing against it all in frustration. The difficulty is being a critique without coming across as Mary Whitehouse did to me as an unbeliever many years ago and it didn’t attract me to Christianity in any way or more crucially to Christ. We can fall into the pharisaical trap of the elder brother.

  7. Thanks Geoff, but where do you draw the line? I don’t need to watch TV or support the BBC to “see the scale of what is happening”. Being “in the world” does not mean aiding and abetting it. I can be in the world without financially supporting it’s vehement ant-Christian strategy. By your own admission, your strategy is turning you into a “grumpy old man”! Is that not another reason to change? I am far from grumpy and indeed am smugly happy that my hard earned income isn’t helping propogate views I, and more importantly, God, find repugnant. Life without the BBC – the Baal Broadcasting Corporation – is blissful.

  8. Geoff, I also meant to mention that we could do with some more Mary Whitehouses today. Just recently, one of her biggest critics at the time, admitted she had been right all along. If she had been taken more seriously then, we wouldn’t be in the moral mess we are today. Also, I’m sorry but I fail to see what’s Pharisaical about keeping oneself from unnecessary pollution and speaking out against sin.

  9. Thanks John. Made me laugh.

    But I still maintain that Whitehouse put me off Christianity. At 47the sin I was convicted of was, the first commandment. God first revealled His Goodness to me from the the depths of my despond, my own Younger son pig pen, that drew me to Him. It was His Goodness/ “kindness that leads to repentence.” And it was with Holy Spirit invoked sobbing and sobbing that I sobbed “Sorry for ignoring You all my life and …” Convicted of a breach of the first commandment which led to a filling of the peace that is beyond understanding, and what can only be described as “the love of God being poured out into my heart by the Holy Spirit…(Romans 5: 5). I was alone in the bathroom at the time, brought to my knees, humbled, joyously.

    Thanks for the opportunity to give this “testimony”. And unless I’ve completely misread it, the experience is supported theologically by Sinclair Ferguson’s treatment of the Marrow Controversy in “The Whole Christ” Enthusiastically endorsed by David

    His law can not be separated from His Person, In Christ Alone, by faith alone, from Him through Him and to Him.

    I had not been brought up in church, catechised. David is one of the few Christians who will take confront the powers of this darke age. Nearly 20 years ago I could in the work place, relate to unbelievers as a new but old convert. Now I’m not so sure I can as well and that is one of the reasons I come on David’s site. There are not many pastors who know what it like in the work place. If you watch what colleagues watch, you’ll be able to comment on what they watched the night before, as a witness to Christ.

    I rarely get to preach, but I’ve been asked this Sunday. You’d never believe its on Luke 15. How many Elder sons are there? I don’t know. But I do know Christ the true Elder Son, who came to seek and save that which was lost, including me. And the obedient elder son, who refused to join the salvation banquet. The disobedience of obedience.

    I value Ferguson’s insight into what joins the younger and older brothers, the same heart emanating from the Garden. Twins separated by age!

    Thanks for confirmation. I’d value your prayers that Christ is honoured, worshipped and praised.

  10. Geoff I rejoice in your story and don’t disagree with any aspect of it. God’s grace is glorious. I will certainly pray for you as you preach, I promise. As a Pastor and Bible teacher I completely share your objectives. However, as I am sure you would agree, the statement “If you watch what colleagues watch, you’ll be able to comment on what they watched the night before, as a witness to Christ.” needs to be handled with enormous care. What the non-Christians I regularly mix with and speak to watch – and they’re your average non-Christians – shouldn’t be watched by anyone concerned for spiritual purity and faithfulness, not even for evangelistic purposes. The Lord bless you richly, brother.

  11. Thanks John, I agree, but don’t. I’m not advocating a blanket viewing. This is about the BBC. With colleagues, we can comment about natural world progs and on something we’ve both watched and when they’ve started the conversation. Perhaps something on Newsnight or even the news. I’d not watch anything of a vile nature on other channels.

    Without a licence I couldn’t watch any cycling on TV or any sport and converse as readily with fellow cyclist that I might meet on the road. We might literally part company if they start talking about some of the things they might watch but it’s unlikey to have been on the BBC.

    I’ve also worked in the Mental Health System as an advocate and some of the stuff some service users watch, wouldn’t be seen on the BBC. As an unconverted lawyer I dealt with what seemed like all aspects of the brokeness of fallen humanity. So I too, now, don’t need to, or more importantly, have no desire to watch or listen to what the world watches.

    But a danger Michael Horton points to is “preaching sermons from nowhere to no one.” I see some this discussion as being about grounding in a life lived in, but not of the world, while at the same time living in the reality of being in Christ, at seated now with Him in the in the heavenly realms. It’s discernment I’m advocating, not desert withdrawal. Jesus was mostly reported as being out and about and amongst it, from shore to synagogue, from gentiles to heretics, as were the sent ones in Acts so that the churches were grounded in the gospel, so that they could live in their own culture such as the true “atheists” in Rome.

    I apologise greatly as I’m all too aware that you don’t need to read this and I readily stand to be corrected, but the lawyer in me wins out at times. But at least, and gratefully so, no longer like one of those lawyers of the age in Luke 15v 2 though it is a danger for all of us to slip into. I get enthusiastically carried away at times . Yes, yes, I should be, I know.

    I’m a bit nonplussed that you should graciously pray. It’s certainly needed. In my own strength, in court I could advocate without fear or favour, according to the law, but preach Christ in my own strength – not likely.

    May you keep on keepning on, being kept in and by Christ. It is more than needed in the darkness. May He enthuse and encourage you. Fan into flames… (if needed) that you love Him all the more.

    And David, throughout all this blog and other work, please don’t forget the humbling privilege of preaching and pastoring. Only you, in the midst of your esteemed preachers, can preach and pastor as you do, and may you love Him all the more even in the spiritual battle all around.

    How we all need the armour of Christ

    How the body of Christ needs teachers and preachers and Pastors who love not only the word but the Word.

    May the every blessing in Christ Jesus, be a living reality to us all. Amen.

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  13. Just watched the Hannah Livingston, living her free “Summer in America” tour, with such talented editing, she could have re-edited the famous”World At War” Series, and made you think that the “Allies” actually lost World War 2!! I knew it was going to be a rough ride watching, in terms of Jounalistic integrity, as Hannah desperately circumvented the truth, when she showed HER VERSION of the campaign clip of Donald Trump, stating that, if elected, he would “immediately put in place, a ban on Muslims entering America…”. Unfortunately, “slipshod Hannah”, left the rest of Donald Trump’s statement un-aired. The part that Millions and Millions and Millions of Americans, like myself, heard Donald Trump say that night, and we’re not semi-conscious, or Auristally-challenged sufficiently to forget, that he went on to say, “…until the Government can figure out, and get a grip on, what the heck is going on in our immigration control systems”. That’s my memory of his statement, which though not verbatim, is certainly a very much closer approximation of what Donald Trump, said in that speech, than what Hannah Livingston, selectively chose to put on her alleged “documentary”. Fortunately, no one in America, saw, or cares, what nonsense Hannah’s freebie Summer in America, produced. Unfortunately, if the British audience, consuming this High School attempt at journalism, believe Hannah’s grim take, more fool them.

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