BBC religion stories ‘timed’ to skew Census?

A national commentator has spoken out on the timing of two reports the BBC ran on religion last week, just days before the 2011 Census.

The first story related to an online survey commissioned by the British Humanist Association (BHA), which claimed two-thirds of Britons are not religious.

And the second story claimed religion may become extinct in nine countries.

Not genuine

But even the researchers into the second story had to admit their hypothesis was not genuine, conceding they “don’t really believe this is the network structure of a modern society”.

Ed West, who writes on politics, religion and popular culture for the Daily Telegraph, described the “non-stories” on the decline of faith as “highly spurious” and a thinly-veiled attempt to influence the Census.

In relation to the BHA survey, he challenged its impartiality and referred to a non-religious academic, who argues that one can be a “non-believer” and still identify as a Christian and wish to live in a society guided by Christian beliefs.

Mr West described the second story as “ridiculous” and having “no bearing on the real world”, hinting that the BBC were using it in an attempt to influence the Census.


In January this year, former BBC newsreader Peter Sissons said Christians are “fair game” for insults at the broadcaster whilst Muslims must not be offended.

Last year presenter Simon Mayo said religion is “increasingly driven to the margin” on the BBC.

And in 2009 Jeremy Vine, another of the Corporation’s radio presenters, said he believed it had become “almost socially unacceptable to say you believe in God.”

He said he believes Christ is who he says he is, but doesn’t think he could say so on his show.

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