Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the senior Catholic authority in Scotland, accused the BBC on Sunday of being contaminated by “a radically secular and socially liberal mindset.” Then prelate added that the public corporation headed by Mark Thompson, a 52-year-old Jesuit educated Catholic, should appoint a religion editor immediately.
Cardinal O'Brien, who is Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh also accused the BBC of plotting a “hatchet job” on the Vatican in a documentary about clerical sex abuse on the eve of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Britain.
“This week the BBC’s director general admitted that the corporation had displayed ‘massive bias’ in its political coverage throughout the 1980s, acknowledging the existence of an institutional political bias,” the cardinal said.
“Our detailed research into BBC news coverage of Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular, together with a systematic analysis of output by the Catholic church, has revealed a consistent anti-Christian institutional bias,” he added.
As proof, Cardinal O'Brien pointed out to 15 percent decline in religious programming over the past 20 years. Also, he added, insiders at the BBC have privately admitted that there is a cultural intolerance of Christianity at the corporation.
“Senior news managers have admitted to the Catholic Church that a radically secular and socially liberal mindset pervades their newsrooms. This sadly taints BBC news and current affairs coverage of religious issues, particularly matters of Christian beliefs.”
The Archbishop of Edinburgh voiced his fears that the BBC will use a forthcoming documentary called "Benedict –Trials of a Pope" to "humiliate the Pontiff on the eve of his visit to Britain." The program was created by Mark Dowd, a homosexual former Dominican friar, and will be aired on September 15.
The cardinal joined the recent Church of England's demand that the broadcaster appoint a religion editor to address the issue of the decline and the bias on religious information.
The BBC immediately dismissed Cardinal O’Brien’s criticism of its religious coverage. A spokeswoman told The Telegraph that “BBC news and current affairs has a dedicated religion correspondent.”
In fact, the BBC appointed Mr. Aaqil Ahmed last year as head of religious broadcasting, the first Muslim to hold that position.
Nevertheless, Roger Bolton, who presents BBC's Radio 4’s "Feedback," said early this year at an awards ceremony in London that the religious perspective was often "bafflingly absent" both on air and behind the scenes in editorial discussions.
“BBC television, unlike BBC Radio, seems to be in the hands of the secular and skeptical, who view religious coverage as a rather tiresome obligation to be minimized rather than a rich and promising area to explore,” said Bolton.
He also noted that Aaqil Ahmed had a proven record in his previous job at Channel 4, but that at the BBC, his “playing field" was "more the size of a fives court than a football pitch.”
Bolton added that BBC News should appoint a religion editor of a similar seniority and prominence to business editor Robert Peston, to appear prominently on its radio and TV bulletins.
“BBC News requires a religion editor, able to appear on the networks to interpret the latest religious story at home and abroad, but more importantly to bring a religious perspective to the vast range of areas such as foreign affairs and medical dilemmas where that perspective is so often, and so bafflingly, absent,” said Bolton.