Bishop of Leeds asks about effect of media on understanding of judicial independence

LeedsOn 7th December 2016, Lord Beith asked the Government “what steps they are taking to promote public understanding of the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.” The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, will the Minister define a little further what is meant by public education, as it seems that one of the most powerful shapers of world views is what people see in the headlines of newspapers and what they see in the media, not just what is taught to them rationally, for example in schools?

Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds asks about effect of media on understanding of judicial independence”

BBC needs to promote religious literacy, Bishop of Norwich tells Peers

On 12th October 2016 the House of Lords debated a Government motion “that this House takes note of the drafts of the BBC’s new charter and the agreement between the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and the Corporation.” The Bishop of Norwich, Rt Revd Graham James, spoke in the debate about the need for well-resourced and informed coverage of religion. 

norwich121016bThe Lord Bishop of Norwich: My Lords, I have been pondering what interest to declare in this debate. I have never been employed by the BBC, but have received very modest remuneration for occasional broadcasts; I listen to Radio 4 more than any other channel; I fall asleep when watching “Newsnight”, despite my best intentions; and I belong to a generation for whom, in our childhood and early life, television and radio were the BBC—in my native Cornwall in the late 1950s, there was no ITV. I say all this because I realise that the BBC is so much part of the fabric of my life that I can be an incurable romantic about it.

In some ways, the BBC is rather like the Church of England: it is both national and local, and everyone in the BBC, as in the Church of England, imagines that power is being exercised somewhere but they always believe that it is somewhere else and that they do not have any. Continue reading “BBC needs to promote religious literacy, Bishop of Norwich tells Peers”

Bishop of Leeds seeks Government assurances over future of Bradford’s National Media Museum

LeedsOn 25th April 2016 Lord Stevenson of Balmacara asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of the closures of regional museums, particularly in the North of England, and the impact of those closures on the United Kingdom’s creative industry and on the educational services provided to local schools and colleges.” The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, if the rhetoric about the northern powerhouse is to have any reality behind it, it has to include access to culture and cultural developments. In the light of that, will the Minister give an assurance that the sword of Damocles hanging over the National Media Museum in Bradford might at last be lifted? Sometimes up there it feels as if London is saying, “Out, damned spot!”. Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds seeks Government assurances over future of Bradford’s National Media Museum”

Bishop of Chelmsford says BBC services need to reflect religious and community life of the nation

On 21st April 2016 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Best, Chair of the Lords Communications Committee, “That this House takes note of the report from the Communications Committee BBC Charter Review: Reith not Revolution (1st Report, HL Paper 96).” The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, who is a member of the Committee spoke in the debate:

Chelmsford 251115The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, I too speak as a member of the Select Committee that produced this report. I must declare an interest as a co-chair of the multi-faith standing conference of the BBC on religion and ethics, and related to that work I want to talk about the place of faith in public service broadcasting, and indeed to speak for all the faith communities in these islands.

It has been said that if a mission statement is more than two or three words long, it either means that the organisation does not really know its purpose, or even if it does, no one else will. Let me give a few examples: glasnost, girl power, flower power, New Labour and the big society; I will not go on. Consequently, if a mission statement is going to work, it has to be pithy and memorable. Lord Reith’s “inform, educate and entertain” does the job, and has done it very effectively for a long time—everyone knows it.When the last charter renewal process landed the BBC with six rather wordy and worthy public purposes, it was not necessarily doing it a favour. Continue reading “Bishop of Chelmsford says BBC services need to reflect religious and community life of the nation”

Interpreting and explaining religion should be a key role of BBC, Bishop of Leeds tells Peers

On the 10th March 2016 the Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, spoke in a short debate on the BBC Charter Review. He expanded on these remarks in a subsequent blog post.

BpLeeds2The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, the BBC has three core purposes: to inform, to educate and to entertain. Will the Minister comment on a fourth purpose, which is to interpret? Diversity has been perceived in terms of regional diversity when one could also say that ethnic and religious diversity in the country need to be taken more seriously. Religion is a primary motivator of individuals and communities, inspiring and informing their political, economic, ethical and social behaviour.

It needs to be interpreted. What the world looks like when seen through a particular religious lens needs to be taken more seriously. In July 2015, Ofcom expressed concern about the diminution of attention to religion in the BBC. Can the Minister assure us that this will be taken more seriously in the charter renewal? Continue reading “Interpreting and explaining religion should be a key role of BBC, Bishop of Leeds tells Peers”

Bishop of St Albans asks about preventing violence against Muslims and raises negative media coverage

On 1st December 2015 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a question in the House of Lords about violence against Muslims and other minority groups following the terrorist attacks in Paris. He followed up with a question about negative media coverage of British Muslims.

StAlbans171115The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to prevent violence against Muslims and other minority groups following the attacks in Paris on 13 November.


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Transport and Home Office (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) (Con): My Lords, the Government take the safety of all our citizens and communities very seriously; indeed, this is at the core of counterextremism strategy. Following the tragic events in Paris, we are working to take all necessary action: police have increased their presence at important locations and events; advice has been given to places of worship; and we are working with organisations such as Tell MAMA to confront anti-Muslim hatred. The Prime Minister has also announced new funding for the security of mosques.


The Lord Bishop of St Albans: I thank the Minister for his reply and am grateful for all that Her Majesty’s Government are doing already. Perhaps I may focus on one particular area. Since those terrible events on 13 November in Paris, some of our national newspapers have run some very disturbing stories about the treatment of British Muslims and minority groups, such as asylum seekers, here. Does the Minister agree that, in modern, democratic Britain, there is no place for misleading headlines and scurrilous cartoons designed to demonise minority groups? Many of us on these Benches have been involved in face-to-face meetings during the past three weeks with members of the Muslim community, who are deeply dismayed and angry at what has happened. What are Her Majesty’s Government doing to counter such unhelpful stories and narratives and to strengthen community relations between minorities and the wider British public?

Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks about preventing violence against Muslims and raises negative media coverage”

Lords’ Prayer cinema advert – Church Commissioners’ written answer

On the 30th November 2015 the Church Commissioners answered two written questions from Mark Hendrick MP on the Lords’ Prayer cinema advert.


 

Caroline SpelmanMr Mark Hendrick (Preston): To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, in which (a) local and (b) national newspapers the Church of England plans to place advertisements with the text of the Lord’s Prayer.

Mrs Caroline Spelman: The Church of England has no plans for advertisements of the Lords Prayer in local or national newspapers. Many national and local newspapers have already covered the story. As of 27th November 2015 online articles had received over 5.15 million views.

Lord’s Prayer Cinema Advert Ban – Bishop of Chelmsford asks question in Lords

On 25th November 2015 the Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell asked a question of Government about the decision by Digital Cinema Media not to accept an advertisement from the Church of England featuring the reading of the Lord’s Prayer. The video can be seen on the website justpray.uk A full transcript of the exchange and those that followed, is below.


 

Chelmsford 251115The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the freedom of religious and non-religious organisations to express their beliefs in the public sphere, in the light of the decision by Digital Cinema Media not to accept advertisements from the Church of England.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con): My Lords, freedom of expression, including freedom of the media, is fundamental to democratic society. Open discussion of faith issues has the benefit of bringing communities together, thereby giving rise to greater understand among faith groups. In this case, the decision not to accept the advertisement was by an independent media organisation. The Government made clear that they do not agree with that decision and urged the cinema to look again.


Continue reading “Lord’s Prayer Cinema Advert Ban – Bishop of Chelmsford asks question in Lords”

Bishop of Norwich speaks in support of the BBC

“The BBC has plenty of the faults to be found in all large institutions, including government departments. It has a capacity to waste money on IT projects, but no more so than successive Governments. It can be complacent and bureaucratic, but so can the Church of England and the trade unions. What seems to irritate its opponents is its very success.” – Bishop of Norwich, 14/7/15

14.06.12 Bishop of Norwich

On 14th July 2015 the House of Lords debated the future of the BBC. The Bishop of Norwich, Rt Revd Graham James, a former member of the House of Lords Communications Committee, spoke supportively of the BBC, including its integral role in promoting British values. 

The Lord Bishop of Norwich: My Lords, it seems odd that a Government so keen to promote British values in our schools appear intent on reducing the capacity of a world-renowned British institution. The BBC is increasingly referred to as though it were part of the public sector. It is not. It is an organisation financed not from the public purse but by those who use it. The fact that many of them are also taxpayers is no more relevant than the fact that those who pay their energy bills are also taxpayers. Perhaps the winter fuel allowance will now be transferred to the energy companies. The logic seems impeccable given the precedent established last week.

Continue reading “Bishop of Norwich speaks in support of the BBC”

Bishop of Norwich draws attention to social impacts of education and media

On 3rd June 2015, during the debate on the Queen’s Speech, the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, spoke on the social and cultural aspects of education, as well as those of broadcast media. The text of his speech is below and can be watched online here:

14.06.12 Bishop of Norwich

The Lord Bishop of Norwich: My Lords, the gracious Speech said that the Government intend,

“to improve schools … and create more academies”.

I declare an interest as one of the sponsors of the first academy in Norfolk, the Open Academy, set up under the last Labour Government. It is now part of a thriving diocesan academies trust committed to school improvement. So I support the Government’s overall aim to improve schools, but there are areas where the direction of travel needs a few extra signposts. Continue reading “Bishop of Norwich draws attention to social impacts of education and media”

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