Christian Outcry Over Blair Ban on Religious Groups

Monday, April 30, 2001 | Tag Cloud Tags: ,

April 30, 2001

STOKE-ON-TRENT, UK (ANS) Tens of thousands of Christians are this week calling on the British Government to lift a ban on national religious broadcasting, in response to news that a Government forum on the future of religious broadcasting is set to exclude independent religious broadcasters.

The Government forum, to be held at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport on Thursday 3rd May 2001 (2.30pm-4.30pm), was originally proposed in connection with United Christian Broadcasters (UCB) Europe. However, UCB Europe have learned that the meeting now excludes independent religious broadcasters, and is misrepresentative of the 6,500 responses made in a White Paper consultation requesting the lifting of the ban.

The response of Christians forms part of a growing movement of strong concern, including 300,000 supporters of UCB Europe, (a Christian radio station that has been banned from applying for a national license in the UK for the past 10 years but broadcasts via satellite) about freedom of speech. The response also unites Christians from a wide range of denominations and organizations who are concerned that the ban is both unjust and undemocratic.

Gareth Littler, Director of UCB Europe, said, “I can only conclude sadly that this White Paper consultation is a white wash. If the ban is not lifted, Christians in the UK will never be able to listen to the national radio of their choice, even in the light of the digital explosion. At UCB we are speechless, both in disappointment and in the stark reality of being unable to broadcast Christian music to those who wish to hear it. We hope and pray that the Government will stop banning Christians and instead start listening to them”.

The ban on religious broadcasters has been in place since the 1990 Broadcasting Act, and the UK is one of only four countries to have such a ban, alongside Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Iran. Over a period of 10 years hundreds of MPs of all parties have supported lifting the ban and numerous petitions have been presented to the Government, numbering in excess of 276,000 signatures. However, the current position of the Government defies a vast groundswell of opinion, and the policy support of all the mainstream political parties except the Labour Party.

In place of the initial delegation proposed, the meeting at the DCMS will be held with the Central Religious Advisory Committee (CRAC). Reports from the time of the 1990 Broadcasting Act prove that CRAC was responsible for calling for the ban on independent religious broadcasters in the first place. A selection of multi faith leaders are also invited.

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