TV festivals in particular have a strange ostrich-like relationship with the subject but the country as a whole doesn't seem to agree. For them it's here in our lives and it needs to be understood, debated and packaged in a way best suited for their changing needs and tastes.
That's the genesis of BBC RE:THINK 2012. It's an attempt to fuse the growing interest in the subject if not necessarily the practise of religion with how it's reported on television, radio and online.....
Religion and belief in the UK and how we portray it on television and radio is evolving. Old fashioned arguments about broadcast hours twenty years ago or how many ex theology students worked on a show are largely irrelevant to today's audience."So blogged Aaqil Ahmed, the BBC's controversially-chosen Head of Religion and Ethics, ahead of that event, which took place last week. He further explained:
"Taking part in and attending BBC RE: THINK 2012 will be other broadcasters, independent producers, journalists, academics, clergy, opinion formers and members of the public. It's a unique opportunity to bring all of us together for the first time.
Across the two days there should be something for everyone. From a must-watch conversation between the Chief Rabbi and Richard Dawkins, festival specials of The Moral Maze and The Big Questions to standing room-only master classes from Bettany Hughes and Jeremy Bowen there should be something for everyone...."A master-class from Jeremy Bowen? In a conference concerned with religion?
A talk entitled "Rethinking the Arab Spring" in a conference concerned with what Britons believe?
Nobody would be cynical enough to suggest that this was an opportunity for Bowen to plug the book he's just written on the so-called Arab Spring.
And nobody would be cynical enough to suggest that despite Al Beeb's bend-over-backwards attempts at inclusiveness and accommodation of all sorts of minority groups a much-touted-by-the-BBC question and answer session on Twitter regarding the Middle East with the pally title "Ask Jeremy" took place on the first day of Rosh Hashana in order to evade pesky Jewish questioners:
If you want to ask me anything about the Middle East or my BBC job I'll be live tweeting answers between 1600-1700 GMT today.Well, nobody except the guy who tweeted:
"Why are you holding this on Rosh Hashanah, one of the holiest days in Jewish calendar? So Jews can't participate?"
"not trying to avoid qs from religious Jews. agree timing could be better. will be doing this again."
"why was the Balen report not published?"but his question would appear to have been overlooked.
Evidently, Bowen (either blissfully unaware or dismissive of expert warnings that Iran's top leaders believe that strife and chaos is necessary for the coming of the Twelfth Imam) takes a phlegmatic view of the prospect of a nuclear Iran.
For the man who, as this post reminds us, described the Muslim Brotherhood as being "conservative, moderate and non-violent" until 'he got caught and quickly deleted the word “moderate”,' responded to the question "Could the West live with a Nuclear Iran?":
"West lived with nuclear Soviet Union. Would deterrence work with Iran? Quite likely. Iranians are rational actors. But deterrence works both ways. Nuclear Iran would be strengthened, and so would its allies. One reason why Israel so worried."
Some of the rest of Bowen's profundities may be read here
But that's a poor substitute for his Twitter page
All the news deemed suitable for licence-payers to know.
Half the story all of the time.
Obscuring or omitting facts that fail to fit the editorial agenda.
That's the BBC for you.
True to form, it appears to have "forgotten" to report this not insignificant event in London at the weekend, though Sky News and other media outlets did so.
And note the way the BBC in its list of most popular stories viewed on its website categorises this statement by Romney as a "gaffe" ("Romney taped in Middle East gaffe")