A programme looking at why Christianity is the butt of so many jokes on TV was aired last night on the BBC, presented by Ann Widdecombe.
Watch on BBC iPlayer (available until Thursday 4 April 2013)
The former Tory minister said she made the programme to ask “where the joke stops and how much further it might go”.
She interviewed various comedians and commentators, and showed why certain “comedic” scenes were so upsetting to her.
Comedian Marcus Brigstocke “paused for thought”, after she explained why a scene from a comedy in which people put chutney on Communion bread offended her.
In a comment piece for The Telegraph website, Miss Widdecombe suggested that the “modern trend towards ridiculing what is sacred to Christians in comedy” is part of the hostility experienced by Christians in this country.
She referred to Adrian Smith, the housing manager from Manchester who was demoted and had his salary slashed for disagreeing with gay marriage on his private Facebook page.
She also said Christianity is mocked far more than other faiths.
Miss Widdecombe asked, “comedy producers respect Islam sufficiently to avoid laughing at the Prophet so why are even the most sacred aspects of this country’s major faith seemingly the stuff of so much comedy?”
“Is it because the Church here is seen as part of the Establishment? Or is it due to the rise of militant atheism? Or is it simply that comics would be afraid to do to Islam that which they regularly do in their routines to Christianity?”
The BBC courted controversy when it aired “Rev” in 2010, a comedy about a liberal vicar struggling in an inner city parish which was described by the show’s creator as “heretical”.
The evangelical Christians in the programme were shown to be unforgiving, money-obsessed hypocrites, whereas the Muslims characters were portrayed sympathetically, shown to be self-assured in their beliefs and moral values.
Last year, the former head of the BBC Mark Thompson admitted that the broadcaster would never mock Mohammed like it mocks Jesus.
He said Jesus is fair game because Christianity has broad shoulders and fewer ties to ethnicity.