Archive for November, 2005

Auntie anti-religious, say religious

The Guardian reports on a House of Lords select committee hearing today in which representatives from the Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh faiths – all contributors to Thought for the Day – accused the BBC of being “anti-religious”.

Joel Edwards of the Evangelical Alliance noted a

pervasive anti-religious attitude that works very vigorously in editing suites.

Dr Indarjit Singh of the Sikh Messenger said:

EastEnders’ Dot Cotton is an example. She quotes endlessly from the Bible and it ridicules [religion] to some extent.

Representatives from the British Humanist Association were also present, arguing that the humanist perspective should also be given a fair hearing. They accused the BBC of ignoring the Human Rights Act by not giving secular humanism equal treatment.

Unsurprisingly, the more traditionally religious did not agree. The Bishop of Southwark, Tom Butler, said that secular humanism should be given less time on the BBC, not more:

They have an enormous amount of time because the standard mindset of the media, particularly broadcast services, is secular humanism and that mindset is reflected in output. So perhaps it needs attention because it is counter-cultural in society.

One member of the committee, Lord Preston, said he thought claims that the BBC was biased against religion were “ridiculous”.

A year ago today…

van gogh
About 500 people gathered in the rain on the pavement where Dutch film maker Theo Van Gogh was murdered on Nov 2 2004. Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, addressed the crowd:

We shouldn’t let ourselves be divided by a small group of people that writes its message in blood. Spurring hate is no solution.

Van Gogh made a film with Ayaan Hirsi Ali called Submission, which showed several near-naked women with verses from the Koran written on their bodies. This proved too much for 26-year-old radical Islamist Mohammed Bouyeri to bear, so he shot and stabbed the director to death.

A short clip of the film is viewable here.

Merry Krishmas

Hindu stamp
According to the BBC, the Royal Mail has apologised for any “unintentional offence” it caused the Hindu community when it published its latest 68p Christmas stamp. But it has refused to withdraw or alter the design of the offending item.

The picture is a reproduction of a 17th century painting which shows a Hindu couple “worshipping” the Baby Jesus. The original work is currently on display in a gallery in Mumbai.

The Hindu Forum of Britain are not happy. They think it is insensitive to issue the stamp at a time when “the issue of conversions in India has been a subject of heated debate.” Ramesh Kallidai, secretary general of the Forum:

Even if we accept that an artist in 1620 AD took the artistic license to portray practising Hindus worshipping the Baby Christ, we should be asking if this is politically and sensitively correct in the 21st century. We therefore urge the Post Office to withdraw the 68 p stamp immediately or issue a redesigned version that does not have the Hindu markings on the foreheads of the two characters in the stamp.

In the past the HFB have appealed to advertisers and manufacturers to consult the organisation before they release adverts or products “to avoid causing unnecessary offence to the community”. Sounds familiar.

A spokesman for the Royal Mail said:

It was common for Hindu artists during that period to paint images that depicted western culture, including paintings about Christianity.

The stamp simply features a Hindu artist’s interpretation of Christianity’s Madonna and Child scene.

However the Royal Mail does apologise for any unintentional offence caused to the Hindu community.

MWW can’t help but think they have missed a golden opportunity to compromise and heal the rift between the two communities. All they need to do is photoshop a few extra arms on the Christ-child, then everyone would be happy. Surely?