Religious Education and the BBC

TITLE: Fiona Bruce MP Hosts Event in Parliament on Religious Education in the classroom and religious content on the BBC

Fiona Bruce MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Religious Education, recently hosted an event in Parliament on the relevance of faith-focused Religious Education and the BBC’s coverage of religious material. Speakers considered how the study of different religious faiths can be used to inform national life and improve community cohesion. Speakers also considered the role that broadcasting agencies, like the BBC, can play in improving religious literacy across the nation, and reducing local community tensions. 

Fiona received a room of over fifty guests, including Parliamentarians and representatives from a range of religious and non-religious groups. Keynote speakers included Jonathan Arkush, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews – representing the UK’s Jewish community - who spoke powerfully about the role that religious education can play in improving social cohesion. Steve Clifford, General Director of Evangelical Alliance – the voice for evangelical Christians in the UK – also gave a moving address about the ongoing relevance of the Christian faith within an increasingly secular society. Examples he gave included faith-inspired social action, such as prison visiting, youth work, job clubs and Street Pastors.
Providing a fresh perspective on the issue, Mark Friend - BBC controller leader of the BBC’s recent Religion and Ethics Review - discussed the role that the nation-wide broadcaster can play, both in presenting religious groups positively and accurately in their programmes and in improving the public’s religious literacy, and spoke of how carefully the BBC consider comments from members of the public – which was encouraging as a sparky question time followed his presentation!
Fiona Bruce MP said:
“When living in a society which prides itself on its cultural and religious diversity – a society in which over half the population hold a faith, according to the most recent census, - understanding the different religious beliefs which shape and motivate us and those in our communities is of utmost importance. This promotes community cohesion and reduces misunderstandings, which in a worst case scenario, can lead to damaging community friction and even disturbances. Religious Education both in and out of the classroom is, for this reason, invaluable and ought to be maintained. Events, such as this one, highlighting good practice in RE, play an integral role in ensuring that this goal is achieved.
It was particularly interesting to hear how the BBC is addressing contemporary challenges as they try to meet the needs and demands of a diverse and complex UK – and indeed international – audience, who hold so many disparate views. The BBC’s work, when well done, should help us all understand the important role that faith plays for many people in their everyday lives, the beliefs that define us and the certainties that guide people in today’s uncertain times.”
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