BBC director general admits Christianity gets tougher treatment than Islam, other religions

The BBC director general Mark Thompson has claimed that Christianity is treated with less sensitivity than other religions because it has “pretty broad shoulders”.

The Telegraph reports

In a wide-ranging interview about faith and broadcasting, Mr Thompson disclosed that producers were faced with the possibilities of “violent threats” instead of normal complaints if they broadcast certain types of satire.

He suggested other faiths had “very close identity with ethnic minorities” and as a result were covered in a more careful way by broadcasters.

“Without question, ‘I complain in the strongest possible terms’, is different from, ‘I complain in the strongest possible terms and I am loading my AK47 as I write’,” he said. “This definitely raises the stakes.”

In the interview posted online for the Free Speech Debate, a research project at Oxford University, Mr Thompson said he was a “practising Catholic” who believed that the “truths of the Christian faith” were objective rather than subjective.

But he said Islam was a religion “almost entirely” practised by people who already may feel in other ways “isolated”, “prejudiced against” and who may regard an attack on their religion as “racism by other means”.

The interview was posted online by the Free Speech Debate — a research project at Oxford University.

The Daily Mail says

Mr Thompson was making his comments during a wide ranging interview about faith and broadcasting, which included the furore provoked by the Corporation’s decision to screen the controversial show Jerry Springer: The Opera on BBC2 in 2005.

Hundreds of Christians rallied outside BBC buildings before and during the broadcast to protest about what they saw as blasphemous scenes such as Jesus Christ wearing a nappy.

At least 45,000 people contacted the BBC to complain about swearing and its irreverent treatment of Christian themes.

Many said that no one would have dreamed of making such a show about the Prophet Mohammed and Islam. […]

[Thompson] said that Christianity was ‘an established part of our cultural-built landscape’ which meant it was ‘a pretty broad- shouldered religion’.

He conceded that the broadcaster would never have aired a similar show about Mohammed because it could have had the same impact as a piece of ‘grotesque child pornography’. […]

He added: ‘The point is that for a Muslim, a depiction, particularly a comic or demeaning depiction, of the Prophet Mohammed might have the emotional force of a piece of grotesque child pornography.

‘One of the mistakes secularists make is not to understand the character of what blasphemy feels like to someone who is a realist in their religious belief.’ […]

Mr Thompson said the fatwa against Salman Rushdie over his novel The Satanic Verses, the September 11 terror attacks, and the murder in Holland in 2004 of film-maker Theo van Gogh, who had criticised Islam, had made broadcasters realise that religious controversies could lead to murder or serious criminal acts.

Last year the BBC’s own research showed that the broadcaster uses “derogatory stereotypes” to portray Christians.

Knesset panel: ‘Strengthen ties with S. American Evangelical Christians’

The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense subcommittee on Foreign Policy urged the Israeli government Tuesday to garner support from Evangelical Christians around the world, and to strengthen its connection to those outside of the US.

The Jerusalem Post says the Foreign Ministry is trying in North and South America to appeal to televangelists to speak about Israel and invite Israeli ambassadors to their television and radio shows. In addition, the ministry is in touch with pastors of large churches.

[Subcommittee chairman Robert Ilatov] called for the ministry to increase its activity in Brazil, where there is “potential to change the government’s positions” due to the large Evangelical population.

He criticized the government for not having a more focused policy in connection to pro- Israel Christians.

Wilf said she finds it exciting that there is a “new, young generation in Latin America that sees Israel as part of the foundations of its faith,” adding that this is a chance for the Foreign Ministry to do work for the long-term.

“It’s fascinating that in South America, an area that we’re used to seeing as either apathetic or anti-Israel, has hope for a deep change,” Wilf said.

According to Wilf, such a “transformation” could take 10 to 20 years. Therefore, she said she understands that it is difficult to strengthen pro-Israel sentiment in Brazil, where Evangelicals are “not used to translating their spiritual admiration to political support,” as opposed to the US, where there are organized and politically influential Evangelical groups.

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