Saturday 23 February 2019

BBC announces Year Of Beliefs examining religion and ethics in modern Britain

The broadcaster is focusing on personal ethics in 2019.

Live coverage of Christian worship will continue to form a large part of BBC content (Chris Ison/PA)
Live coverage of Christian worship will continue to form a large part of BBC content (Chris Ison/PA)

By Craig Simpson, Press Association

The BBC is launching a year of religious programming examining how faith is shaping and dividing modern Britain.

A Year Of Beliefs will delve into the current convictions of UK citizens, and their attitudes as well as the pressing moral dilemmas of our time.

New programmes will explore how the personal and religious views of modern medicine, sexuality, parenthood and extremism are dividing society along new fault-lines.

The fatwa issued against Salman Rushdie will be revisited 30 years on, with other planned documentaries covering male circumcision, surrogacy and the wealth gap.

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Tom Daley will examine the issue of surrogacy (Isabel Infantes/PA)

A nationwide survey will also show the contemporary divisions in age, geography and faith which exist in the UK.

Producers have said the BBC will continue its religious and ethical output, with live coverage of Christian worship continuing to form a large part of the broadcaster’s content.

Charlotte Moore, director, BBC Content, said: “With the Year Of Beliefs we want to capture the complex variety of faiths and beliefs in modern Britain.

“Not only do we continue to offer our audiences a place they can celebrate and share their own personal beliefs, but we also want to help them understand better the meaning of other faiths and beliefs as well as exploring important ethical issues that impact so many people’s lives.

“I am excited at the breadth of content across 2019 and I hope it inspires all our audiences and brings them a fresh insight into the fast-changing world we live in.”

Programmes planned for the year of religious and ethical content include Too Gay For God, which explores the LGBT community’s place in Christianity, particularly in the Church of England.

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The Satanic Verses 30 Years On will explore the impact of Sir Salman Rushdie’s novel (Adam Butler/PA)

The Satanic Verses 30 Years On returns to Yorkshire, where protests against the magical realist novel began, examining the divisions created by religious conviction and the attitudes towards the fatwa which forced Sir Salman into hiding.

Pregnant And Platonic will look at the phenomenon of co-parenting, and Tom Daley will explore the issue of surrogacy in the UK. Programmes will also cover pilgrimage, the Vatican, and the generational differences in belief between British Asians.

Religious content will be airing throughout the year on BBC Radio.

James Purnell, director of radio and education, said: “We’ll be shining a light on what Britain believes in today through new commissions, appointing a youth panel to work with well-established programmes across radio and exploring a complex range of issues affecting people’s lives, from IVF to being single.

“I hope that throughout the year, we’ll offer a place for people to pause and reflect on the world around them with our content.”

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