‘Keep religion on TV’ – former Bishop of Durham

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THE Archbishop of Canterbury has warned of “dangerous” consequences if religion was dropped from TV schedules.

The Most Rev Justin Welby, who was enthroned in March, said that snubbing such programming would “cultivate ignorance”.

The former Bishop of Durham called religious formats the real “reality shows”, and cited the likes of ITV’s Strictly Kosher and Channel 4’s controversial show Islam: The Untold Story, as examples of good religious programming.

Referring to the growth of reality TV shows, he told the Radio Times: “Over the past decade, a little English word has become synonymous with broadcasting that puts ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances: ‘reality’. In this context, reality can often mean people putting their lives on hold, flying off to a desert island, and taking part in bewildering challenges.

“But there is another kind of reality broadcasting – one that I think delves far deeper into the questions of who we are, what we are, and why we are.”

He told the magazine: “For adults over a certain age who received little in the way of religious education at school – especially of an inter-faith variety – religious broadcasting is likely to be their best guide to the different faiths, not just of the people they see on the news but of the people they meet at the school gates, or queue next to at the post office.”

He said: “Some people these days firmly believe that faith and religious life should be kept behind closed doors. But if broadcasters were also to adopt the view that religion is something separate and private, rather than stitched into our public life, then we could set off down a dangerous road.

“We would be cultivating ignorance where what we need is insight, and prejudice where we most badly need open minds.

“We live in an increasingly multicultural society. Knowing, understanding and celebrating the faiths of our neighbours will help us all to flourish.”

He said: “It’s essential that we support broadcasting that teaches us about those around us.”

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