TV — Is It Time for a Religious ‘Big Brother’?

The other day, the Archbishop of Canterbury “cautioned” the BBC against scaling back religious programming, saying that religious shows are a bulwark against “ignorance.”

According to the Guardian, Archbishop Justin Welby also described religious formats as “the real reality shows.”

It’s safe to assume that there are thousands of juicy tidbits about religion that the bishop would not like to see broadcast too widely, starting with the fact that the Anglican Church was created for the express purpose of allowing King Henry VIII to divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and marry Anne Boleyn. (Henry liked the result so much that he took four more wives after that.) Or the fact that Sir Thomas More, that great English saint, personally prosecuted and imprisoned Christians who dared read the Bible in English rather than Latin, and then targeted the uppity Lutherans for torture and death.

Justin Welby

If that’s among the knowledge Mr. Welby would like the BBC to impart, I’m all for it.

Instead, the good bishop favors the kumbaya approach to religion on the Beeb: soft-hearted programs like ‘Strictly Kosher’ (about Manchester’s Jewish community) and the upbeat ‘Islam: The Untold Story,’ in which asking critical questions would be like breaking wind in church.

He is also quite taken, no doubt, with the long-running BBC sermons ‘Thought for the Day‘ and ‘Songs of Praise,’ and that’s certainly understandable. Who wouldn’t like a bit of free national advertising?

But I’m concerned about relevance and popularity here. If the Church wants some edge-of-your-seat religious fireworks to broaden its appeal, Mr. Welby should consider the TV-show idea offered by Guardian commenter PaulMan, based on ‘Big Brother’:

Proposal for a new reality show: The Big Brethren House. You put in representatives of all the faiths in the UK and let them argue the case for why theirs is the best. Every week, you chuck the weakest one out. The most tolerant are guaranteed to go first, the last left will be the most fanatical.

Yeah, I’d watch that.

[photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA, via the Guardian]