Is Britain Christian? ITV Tonight review 24th July 2014


The heat has driven me into being a precious whinger again.

Last night’s ITV Tonight programme on the state of modern-day Christianity in Britain was interesting but could have been made ten years ago.

The programme discussed David Cameron’s much debated claim that what remains of Britain is still a Christian country and his call for people of faith to share that faith (just so long as you don’t work in the NHS… or a whole range of other occupations).

And maybe reporters will just look at the next census figures and rehash a similar report in ten years time. The established churches perpetually waning and some of the charismatic and evangelical churches perpetually growing. Food banks and secular alternatives to faith made a brief mention, but that is all that they were.

The conclusions were the same as were expressed in 2004 and this is partly because the British media now have very few journalists who have either the skill, expertise or inclination to understand the state of Christianity in the UK today.

Despite a tradition of journalists covering both the ebb and the flow of faith in this country it seems that mainstream editors do not, on the whole, think that faith is newsworthy. It is a constant complaint that the only faith news that Christianity gets is negative. We can’t all be being precious whingers.

So, with the last specialist faith reporter in the established media losing her job a matter of months ago is it any wonder that the resulting reports are largely rehashed and superficial? Or is it simply a mirroring of a tide which is still going out?

The conclusion of the Tonight programme was this: Christianity is on the wane. And this is an ebb which is predicted to continue. One expert even forecasted that this trend would continue into the future. It was almost a prophesy. And they can be misleading.

Actually, the program wasn’t entirely unfair. At least there were none of the outrageous generalisations which have characterized too much output relating to Christianity. But again, these generalisations and inaccuracies are partly due to a dearth of specialist faith reporters. Again I whinge.

The conclusion of ‘Tonight’ was the same as ten years ago. Remember, this is a report on the state of faith in the nation now and according to this report Christianity is largely on the wane.

But it is so much more complicated than this.

Perhaps anyone with any sense would have spent the evening watching the tide from a beach.

Think happy thoughts.

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