The BBC should make Pagan voices heard!

Please sign my new petition: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/bbc-should-make-pagan-voices-heard

The BBC recently published a review of its religious programming however despite getting the views from a range of religious leaders, no Pagans were consulted. I wrote to Tone Hall the Director General of the BBC and had a response from their complaints team which clearly demonstrates their lack of interest. I have also been trying to contact their religion department over the past 6 months but despite an auto-response that promises to get a reply to me they have so far ignored me.

Thought for the Day (T4tD) goes out on Radio 4 and despite it being multi-faith it has no Pagan voices on it. According to the 2011 Census, Pagans make up 0.2% of all people in the UK expressing a religion (this will be understated given our natural reluctance to make ourselves know!). By comparison 0.6% identified as Buddhists but had 3% of T4tD broadcasts and 0.7% identified as Jewish with 5% of T4tD broadcasts. It is clear we are being discriminated against.

Nature based religions have never had more relevance than now with climate change hurting the world and plastic soup killing our oceans. Human animals are failing to honour Nature despite us being part of her. Having voices in the media that have a different regard to the world of which we are part is more necessary now than ever.

We may not have a hierarchical leadership that other religions have but we have plenty of leaders – people who are happy to speak out, people who conduct rituals, people who campaign. We also have a diverse range of views  but I believe that what we have in common is far greater – our reverence of nature.

So please sign the petition. We need to work in other ways too but getting Pagan voices hear in the media is especially important.

My letter to the BBC, December 2017:

Dear Mr Hall,

Thank you for publishing your Religion and Ethics Review.

I am keen to know whether Druid or Pagan stakeholders were consulted as part of the review especially as Pagans make up around 0.2% of the population who hold religious views according to the 2011 census and as I was unable to identify any Pagan leader in the list of names in the report. While 0.2% may seem a small proportion, Buddhists and Jews are both only around 3 times this figure with 0.65% and 0.69% respectively yet they were clearly prominent in your review.

If no Pagan voices were heard as part of your review I would be keen to know whether you would be prepared to rectify this.

On a related note I have emailed your religion and ethics department a number of times this year and have yet to receive a reply to any of my emails (other than the auto reply saying that I should expect a reply in 28 days). You can imagine that I am feeling ignored!

Blessed be

Stuart Jeffery
Druid, Pagan and Animist

The reply from the BBC, January 2018:

Dear Mr Jeffrey

Thank you for contacting us.

We understand you are unhappy regarding the findings of the recent review of our religion and ethics programming and news coverage. You can read the published report at http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/aboutthebbc/insidethebbc/howwework/reports/pdf/religion_and_ethics_review.pdf . We have included a summary of the audience research on page 33 which shows some of the challenges the BBC needs to address in order to make content that will appeal to a broad audience.

This research shows that our audience sees the BBC’s religion and ethics output as important. As society becomes more fragmented and more complex with passionately held but conflicting views, our programmes and news coverage are seen as important in making sense of the world and the belief systems that underpin it.

The research also tells us that there is a professed interest by audiences to learn more in this area. People of all ages, and of all faiths and none, think it is important to learn about and understand what other people believe. This is not only about religion as it is traditionally defined but about all beliefs, including non-religious perspectives.

We note your concerns regarding our findings, but we believe that these plans will ensure that the BBC better reflects the UK, the world, and the role that religion plays in everyday life. They will also raise understanding of the impact religion has on decisions made at home and abroad.

Kind Regards

BBC Complaints Team

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