Mark Thompson Director-General BBC speaking on religion

Towards the end of last month you might of happened upon headlines such as this one in the Daily Mail:

Christianity gets less sensitive treatment than other religions admits BBC chief

In my ongoing endeavours not to jump the gun, I wanted to find out exactly what Mark Thompson had said, and in what context.

Here is the video of the interview:

And on this link is a transcript in PDF format.

Following are some extracts I’ve plucked out from the transcript that are noteworthy:

Referring to blasphemy Mark Thompson says:

I think one of the issues is that not all but almost all people who have religious beliefs are realist about the belief. In other words, that they believe that their faith refers to things which have an objective reality. And so, for example, they regard blasphemy as causing objective harm. So it’s not just that a blasphemous statement or act would hurt their feelings or anger them because it went against their opinions; it would do actual objective harm. That offending of an act of sacrilege against the god head or religious figure, actually creates harm in the world as it were and might be as heinous or more heinous than harm to a human being.


The point is that for a Muslim, a depiction – particularly a comical or demeaning depiction of the Prophet Muhammad – might have the force, the emotional force, of a piece of a grotesque child pornography.

I was quite disturbed to read of the abuse meted out by Christians in response to Jerry Springer: The Opera

I received some phone calls from a chap called Stephen Green who ran Christian Voice. I had a number of not to say completely civilised conversations. Roly Keating got a slightly more alarming set of messages including a threat to, you know, to burn him and his wife and his children in their house. So there was some intimidation.

I wouldn’t for a moment argue that the majority of people who were upset about the idea of broadcasting it were people who were threatening violence, but it was little bit of that and a little bit of menace; in the end it was, you know, we had a security guy outside the door for a bit.

Next comes the now infamous AK47 quote, which was given against the backdrop of a reference to Salman Rushdie:

Well clearly it’s a very notable move in the game, I mean without question. “I complain in the strongest possible terms” is different from “I complain in the strongest possible terms and I’m loading my AK47 as I write.” This definitely raises the stakes. But I think there’s two or three things going on, so manifestly a threat to murder, which by the way is quite rightly a crime, massively raises the stakes.

And here is the quote that gave rise to the headlines of Christianity being treated less sensitively than other religions:

But I also want to say, though, a thing about religion. I think it is very different to talk about Christianity in the United Kingdom: a very broadly, literally established, but also metaphorically established, part of our kind of cultural built landscape. A religion which is actually for all sorts of reasons, in many ways a lot of our thinking about human rights comes out of the Christian tradition; I would argue, a broad-shouldered religion, compared to religions which in the UK have a very close identity with ethnic minorities, where, you know, it’s not as if as it were Islam is randomly spread across the UK population. It’s almost entirely a religion practiced by people who may already feel in other ways isolated, prejudiced against, and where they may well regard an attack on their religion as racism by other means.

Thompson appears to be arguing that as religions other than Christianity are closely tied with ethnic minority groups, they deserve kid-glove treatment.

So, Christianity deserves harsher treatment because race trumps religion!

Thompson’s position seems less credible given his comments on secularism:

….it may be that the UK, which is a remarkably secular society – the underlying host culture is remarkably secular, one of the most secular cultures probably anywhere in the world….

So there you go.

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7 Responses to “Mark Thompson Director-General BBC speaking on religion”

  1. Ttony Says:

    I think I’d turn round completely your view of what Thompson says. I read him as saying that Christianity is so much part of the bedrock of British civilisation that a Dawkins or a Fry wittering on will not affect the bedrock, whereas for a member of a minority group whose group identity is tied to their religion, an attack on their religion is an attack on their identity.

    I don’t think he’s right (I think he’s a Tabletista), but he’s not arguing that Christianity deserves harsher treatment but that in the UK in 2012 it is much better placed to shrug it off.

  2. Martin Says:

    “Islam is hardly a minority religion, if its adherents represent an ethnic minority in particular countries. And diversifying the ethnic representation of Islam would probably not result in the the media blaspheming Muhammad more often.” Mark Misulia First Things blog.

    Most people recognise UK is in deep trouble. Christianity is caught in a pincer movement between secularism-which needs money and the state to survive and so is parasitically attached to it, and Islam – used as a tool by secularists to undermine cultural and religious homogeneity and therefore any balance of power, they hope to eventually corrupt Islam as well. But as Professor Charlton writes:

    “When the leftist religion is matched-against a devout, theistic and other worldly orthodox traditional religion it is, of course, utterly crushed – sooner or later, unless it can corrupt the theistic religion to worldly hedonism.

    (The success of leftism derives from its power to corrupt enemies, not from intrinsic strength.)”

    It looks like the best you can hope for is civil war now. Secularism was just the means the rich and powerful used to create the chaos over which many of their type are required to rule and give orders – orderly self ruling systems need few people giving orders. And with no intrinsic moral principles to be found in nature according to secularism, there is no check on disordered desire – so it free feasting on the less privileged. So while Christianity is ruthlessly extirpated, muslims with a natural ethnic resistance to secularism demographically and politically begin to dominate (with the implicit threat of violence always in the background ) leftists fold under these conditions as Charlton shows. Leftist secularists will feel the yoke of Sharia – complaints by that time will be too late – and there will be much gnashing of teeth.

  3. Goy Says:

    Worst of all Diarmaid MacCulloch in How God made the English – A White and Christian people (?) implies that islam is a welcome component of pluralistic Anglicanism, to be looked upon and treated as nothing more than a schism of Christianity – a progressive bolt on that one day could flourish as a norm.

  4. webmaster Says:

    You’re not alone in thinking that way about MacCulloch’s How God made the English


  5. Goy Says:

    In hoc signo vinces†

    Thank you for the link webmaster, the programme was a slick and subtle piece of cultural genocide propaganda.

  6. Tim Says:

    That link to Biased BBC, the subject it discussed was the kind that infuriates me. I learned a long time ago that when scientists claim that they can trace modern ancestry genetically HUGE amounts of the information they present are based on nothing more than guesswork. There is so much information that can never be obtained nor ever be considered, information that could radically alter the whole picture, that programmes like the BBC’s on this subject can easily be twisted to suit an agenda. As the BBC quite happily did.

    And why is it always the English that get picked on? That’s a rhetorical question actually. I noticed the claim that the English have always been the most intolerant people ever. Really? The English concept of fair play was entrenched in the minds of the English, and well known amongst other nations, being exemplified at the Battle of Maldon in AD991 where the Vikings made reference to it.

    Gruffydd ap Llywelyn was shown remarkable tolerance by Harold Godwinson and Edward the Confessor despite Llywelyn’s inability to honour his word in any peace treaties, several of which were made and broken. The final time though was the final straw and the rest is history.

    Just a couple of examples although there are many more. I have apoplectic fits when people try to write revisionist history so I do try to avoid it if at all possible. I must watch my blood pressure, lol.

    Hige sceal þe heardra
    Heorte þe cenre
    Mod sceal þe mare
    þe ure mægen lytlað

  7. Tim Says:

    Just out of interest, and because this has been on my mind now, I thought I’d mention an example of the hit and miss arguments, and sometimes bare-faced bias, that go into genetic studies of the past.

    People might remember that a few years ago there were articles in newspapers world-wide that a Dr Thomas of UCL had proven that the genetic evidence showed the Anglo-Saxons had invaded Britain in small numbers and practiced quote “racist apartheid’ against the Welsh.

    What people might be far less aware of though is the fact that the same person, Dr Thomas of UCL, had claimed several years earlier that the genetic evidence showed the Anglo-Saxons had invaded in massive numbers and practiced quote ‘genocide’ against the Welsh.

    The only pattern that I could see was the determination to paint the Welsh as the victim and the English as the villain of the piece. I wonder if Dr Thomas was Welsh?

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