The BBC has been forced to defend an EastEnders storyline after outraged viewers accused the corporation of anti-Christian bias.
Watch a clip from EastEnders
The complaints centre around a plotline on EastEnders which portrays Lucas Johnson, a Christian Pentecostal pastor, as a deranged killer whose deeds are motivated by his Christian faith.
Viewers have watched the pastor, played by actor Don Gilet, failing to help his ex-wife when she was dying, strangling a love rival to death, and attacking his current wife.
However, over 100 viewers have now written to the Corporation saying that they find the storyline deeply offensive.
And the complaints have forced the BBC to issue a statement defending their controversial plot.
The statement reads: “Lucas is certainly not intended to be representative of Christians. He is a very damaged and dangerous individual who has created a twisted version of the Christian ‘faith’ in his mind to hide behind and to convince himself that his actions are acceptable.
“As the story unfolds, we will see other characters questioning Lucas’ claim to be a Christian.
“As Lucas has become increasingly unhinged, his obsession and reliance on the Bible and the scriptures has become increasingly frantic and desperate. This represents this character’s emotional breakdown, and it is very clear that this is absolutely not normal behaviour.”
Last year an ex-BBC presenter claimed that the BBC is keen on programmes which attack churches, and that there was a wider secularist campaign “to get rid of Christianity”.
Don Maclean, the former Radio 2 religious programme host, also said that the broadcaster is “keen on Islam”.
Mr Maclean said: “you don’t see any programmes on Anglicanism that don’t talk about homosexual clergy and you don’t see anything on Roman Catholicism that doesn’t talk about paedophiles.
“They seem to take the negative angle every time. They don’t do that if they’re doing programmes on Islam. Programmes on Islam are always supportive.”
And last June it was revealed that the BBC Trust had rejected complaints against a TV drama that showed a fanatical British Christian beheading a moderate Muslim.
The offending episode of “Bonekickers” was aired in July 2008.
The BBC Trust, a group of “independent trustees acting in the public interest”, rejected suggestions that the drama associated fanatical Christianity with evangelicalism and gave an offensive portrayal of evangelical Christians.
But Daily Telegraph writer, Damian Thompson, said: “We are deep into the realms of BBC bias and ignorance here.
“Only a BBC drama series would, to quote the complainant, ‘transfer the practice of terrorist beheadings from Islamist radicals to a fantasised group of fundamentalist Christians’.”
In April 2009 Jonathan Wynne-Jones, a national newspaper journalist, warned that the frequent television portrayals of Christians as absurd make it more difficult for believers to defend themselves.
Writing on his blog Mr Wynne-Jones warned that a spate of recent storylines in a number of soaps had sent the clear message that “Christians are nutters”.
And in January 2009 a controversial BBC drama depicted a group of pro-life campaigners as violent extremists.
The drama, entitled Hunter, depicted three pro-lifers kidnapping two children whose mothers had previously undergone abortions.
The actress playing one of the pro-life kidnappers bore a striking resemblance to real life pro-life campaigner, Josephine Quintavalle, who battled with the BBC in 1997 over the broadcaster’s decision to censor a party political broadcast by the Pro-Life Alliance.
BBC controller Kate Harward said that the show was based on “the day to day detail of the real world”.