'Be bolder,' BBC's Head of Religion & Ethics urges religious leaders

'Be bolder,' BBC's Head of Religion & Ethics urges religious leaders

The BBC's Head of Religion & Ethics has issued a challengeto religious communities to be more courageous and passionate inthe way they make use of the media.

Delivering the Beckley Lecture at the annual MethodistConference in Llandudno, Alan Bookbinder challenged people offaith: "to be bolder and braver, to speak with clarity andconviction above the noise and confusion of purely secularconcerns".

The BBC now devote a minimum of 112 hours a year to religiousprogramming on BBC One and Two, together with around 400 hours onnetwork radio. But, Alan Bookbinder said: "I regularly hear the cryfrom producers across the religious output: 'where are the talentedpreachers, the fluent speakers, the media savvy performers who canbrave the airways and compete for attention?".

While the BBC is "eager to nurture new talent", he continued,"voices from the mainstream churches can often seem muted anddefensive". He speculated that this could be because of a warinessof the media or a sensibility to internal politics, because therewas clearly no shortage of talent.

Recent successes like A Country Parish, which waswatched by up to 3 million people every week on BBC Two, prove thatengaging voices such as the Rev Jamie Allen can reach a wideaudience of believers and non-believers alike. Jamie, he said:"brought Christianity alive in a way we cannot do in a month ofSunday Worships."

Alan called on the Churches to "use the power and privilege thatthe airwaves offer" and "address the big questions of morality andmortality that are the very stuff of religion". Only by doing this,he said, could they secure their place on the network in the futureand, more importantly, guarantee the space in the media to "engagethe audience seriously about the deeper aspects of life".

Read full text of the Beckley lecture

Methodist Conference 2003 index