Letter: TV religion

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Andreas Whittam Smith's apology for current BBC editorial policy as it affects the churches (Comment, 14 December) misses the point. The issue is not how to cater for paid-up parish members. They have accepted the physical inconvenience of live attendance at church. What is missing on Christmas Day, and what is reduced at many other times, is religion and related concerns as an ingredient in the cultural diet of people for whom belonging to Christian institutions is of doubtful relevance - but who like to retain a vestigial sympathy and link.

Incarnation - god as man, man as god - is a dramatic idea. A television service to mark the idea on the day which is still called Christmas should not be in question.

The point isn't "selling" Christianity, or pushing messages. Christianity in Britain is close to the core traditions of the people. But folk memory needs to be refreshed - and associated with various aspects of culture and thought in ways that television and radio can manage effectively and helpfully. It is a pity religion has been pushed into a ghetto by those in charge of the media. Christianity does not need yet more pulpits to preach to the converted. That is what "Christian" television and radio stations do. It is the general diet which needs appropriate religious ingredients to prevent it becoming even more impoverished.

Why do enormous numbers of non-Christian or vaguely Christian parents opt to send their children to "church" schools? What that means is ignored by the BBC.

TOM SUTCLIFFE

London SW16

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