The Telegraph reported yesterday that the BBC’s Chief of Religion, Aqil Ahmed, has stated that he will not give in to pluralistic demands despite calls for the Sunday evening, Christian themed ‘Songs of Praise’ to become interfaith. Aquil Ahmed is a practicing Muslim and his appointment sparked controversy and complaint a few years back. He said that it was vital that religious programming promoted “diversity” but insisted that Songs of Praise would always remain Christian.
Since Ahmed’s appointment, religious output on the BBC had risen under his tenure to 600 hours of radio a year and 170 hours on television, as quoted by himself.
And I have to say now, that the religious content on the BBC is far better than it has been in the past, with more gripping documentaries and programmes which more accurately portray information and actually have any depth to them. Granted, not all ‘Christian’ programmes are ones that I would hands down agree with, but nonetheless, Mr. Ahmed is moving in the right direction.
As I said on Facebook, I take my hat off to him. Why? Because in his position, with his own personal religion, he could do practically whatever he wants. OK, he wouldn’t be able to do whatever without a battle, but he has the ability. Islam is still technically a minority religion within this country. And it shows on the BBC. Of course, it has to be said that there are programmes which focus on Islam (as there are with other religions), but nothing like the weekly broadcast of Songs of Praise which is distinctly Christian (albeit wishy washy on occasion). And I should say at this point that I do watch documentaries and other programmes of other religions and find them deeply enjoyable and interesting.
No, I praise the Chief of Religion for the BBC. Despite his own personal convictions, he is fully aware that the UK is technically a Christian Country rooted in Judeo-Christian morality and that there are still remnants of that heritage. Songs of Praise is, I guess, a part of that. And he has been very wise to stick to his guns. And he hasn’t made a song and dance of it, and he hasn’t spouted all the pluralist rhetoric about one religion being favoured over another and so on. He’s made an informed choice and I don’t think anyone from any religion (apart from the religion of pluralism) will be complaining.
OK. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me (or him for that matter), so what are your opinions and why?
Dean is a Minister in the Anglican Church. Currently he is Curate in the parishes of Bedwas, Machen, Michaelston-y-Fedw and Rudry in South Wales. He was born and bred in Wales, is married to Megan, and has two dogs called Taliesin and Melyn, and two cats named Sinsir and Hâf. He graduated from Cardiff University with a BA Hons. in Theology & Religious Studies, and has studied for an MA in Theology, Ministry & Mission at Trinity College Bristol. He also holds a Cert.RSCM from the Royal School of Church Music. He loves playing music, walking, reading, blogging and horse riding as well as going to the cinema and theatre.
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