Britain’s MPs to discuss religious literacy in the media

by - 4th May 2016

TONIGHT sees the launch of a new All Party Parliamentary Group on Religion and the Media.

Brainchild of Yasmin Qureshi, Pakistan-born MP for Bolton South East, and moderated by Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, it is part of a range of responses to the Living with Difference Report published earlier this year by the Woolf Institute’s Commission on Religion and Belief in Public Life in Britain.

The theme of tonight’s round table is ‘Is there a perceived lack of religious literacy in the media?’ – a question that will be addressed by Lapido Media’s founder Dr Jenny Taylor, who gave evidence to the Commission.

[Read her script here]

She will say:  ‘It was not until my own eyes as a journalist became religiously attuned that I realized the West had become a menace to the whole world because of its secularist blinkers.

‘The world is full of religion – and we meddle at our peril unless we understand that. 

‘Where the media do not ‘get religion’ they pose a serious threat to democracy and ultimately to the well-being of the country, through misinterpretation and bias which governments then feed off.

‘The media tell a nation’s stories. Where there are lacunae in Britain as vast as we have at present, whole communities remain ghostlike, their reality a chimera.’

She will press for greater advocacy by parliament with the News Media Association to give leadership over media training and the deployment of religious expertise in newsrooms. She will also call for the freeing up of funding streams to develop training and resources.

Other panellists are Lapido’s Patron Tom Holland, BBC Presenter Roger Bolton, the BBC’s Head of Religion Aaqil Ahmed, Dr Abby Day of the Religion Media Centre at Goldsmiths, University of London and Sir Alan Moses, Chairman of IPSO.

The CORAB report, to which Lapido contributed the six media recommendations, found there was a perceived lack of religion and belief literacy among media professionals. 

‘Improving such literacy among the public, and particularly among media outlets is essential to bring about a vision of a fairer and more cohesive society,’ say the organizers.