Christianity Archive

You'll find articles about this subject in each of the items listed, even if the term does not necessarily occur within the headlines or descriptive text.

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.

In recession-hit Hungary, churches take over state schools

Warsaw, Poland (ENInews). Local government officials in Hungary are handing state-owned schools over to churches, unable to afford their upkeep during the economic recession, according to church sources.

“Churches are entitled to run schools in Hungary as public service providers, receiving the same taxpayers’ money as public sponsors,” said Balazs Odor, ecumenical officer of Hungary’s Reformed Church, in an interview with ENInews.

“The school system has its own problems here, which affect church-run schools as well. However, it’s generally true that the wellbeing of church schools is better looked after since each has a community behind it,” he added.

Hungary’s Heti Valasz weekly newspaper reported this summer that local councils had been forced to abandon schools in the face of shrinking state subsidies, heavy municipal debts and a decreasing number of children, adding that more than 60 had been given to religious associations in recent months.

Cathedral of Szeged
Cathedral of Szeged, Hungary.
© Gyorgy Kovacs

Odor told ENInews that the church’s governing Synod Council had issued guidelines in February, requiring local congregations to “study each case carefully” and obtain approval for school acquisitions from church leaders. “There’ve been discussions with the state, where our church committed itself to be cautious and reserved in its approach,” he told ENInews.

“Congregations have not only to consider the financial resources which have to be secured for a takeover. They must also guarantee the spiritual capacity and potential of the community needed for such an enterprise and study the attitude of concerned parties, such as parents, in advance.”

The Reformed, Lutheran and Roman Catholic churches ran most schools in Hungary before the imposition of communist rule after World War II, when 3,750 church schools were taken over by the state and 4,500 teachers forced to resign, leaving only a handful of colleges in church hands.

In April, the premier Viktor Orban’s center-right government steered through a new national constitution that states Hungarian citizens “recognise the key role of Christianity in upholding the nation.” A new religion law in July strengthened the position of mainstream churches when it deprived all but 14 of Hungary’s 358 registered churches and religious associations of legal recognition, and required others to re-apply for court registration after parliamentary approval.

Odor said the Reformed church “co-operated loosely” with the 12 other denominations running their own schools, and had been helped by the federal government’s sympathetic attitude to Christianity. “The current government places greater emphasis on the Christian heritage … and this is important in a post-communist country. Even while facing a difficult economic and social situation, it makes efforts to maintain good co-operation with church communities,” he said.

In its report, Heti Valasz said many teachers and parents were “unhappy with the changes,” adding that the Roman Catholic bishop of Szeged-Csanad, Laszlo Kiss-Rigo, whose diocese was negotiating the handover of schools with 38 local councils, had pledged that no “mandatory religious education” would be imposed on already functioning classes.

– In recession-hit Hungary, churches take over state schools, Jonathan Luxmoore, ENInews, Sep. 8, 2011 — © Ecumenical News International (ENI). Published in Religion News Blog by permission.