It being Easter, the BBC newsteams seem to think it is appropriate to litter their reports with random, mawkish and bizarre religious images. For example, on Friday there was a story vaguely disapproving that people continue to find Easter less relevant. They couldn't go as far as to say this was a bad thing (after all, that might have offended people of other religions - I doubt they cared about offending atheists). But they did have little old ladies bemoaning people not going to church enough and not knowing the 'true meaning' of Easter. To illustrate this, they had some young chap on who was vaguely aware Easter (as celebrated by Christians) was something to do with religion, but he knew no more than that. I am half cheered by this (I'm pleased that there's a generation being raised not subservient to an imaginary being and his predatory minions) but I also think there's some value in understanding religions for two reasons. First, Christianity is an important part of this country's past and its culture. It's hard to find ignorance of this a good thing. Second, I think understanding the silliness of religion can help innoculate us against it. It's how I cured myself of religion and I know lots of other people who can say the same.
Then today, there was an article about zebras being rounded up in Kenya to distribute among national parks, which are running out. This interesting article finished by describing the activity as 'the biggest translocation of animals since Noah's Ark'. The narrator didn't even have his tounge in his cheek.
Let's be clear, I'm not complaining particularly about religious talk on the news. It's not to my taste and I'd rather it wasn't there, but I don't care all that much. I care more about the fact that the BBC is funded by public money and secularism ought to be a priority in public bodies. It is a stark reminder that Britain isn't a secular state, even if much of the time we tend to pretend it is.
What bothers me more is the silliness and thoughtlessness of this kind of thing. The casual assumption that religion - and specifically Christianity in these cases - is necessarily part of our lives and that we should be vaguely ashamed of ourselves if it isn't. At least, at Easter. And Christmas. The rest of the time we don't need to worry ourselves about it, phew! It is exactly that vague guilt that religion plays on to continue to demand special treatment in a world where it's no longer relevant, if indeed it ever was. It's this that allows priests to rape children for decades; for their establishment to cover up not only past abuse, but continued abuse, which they enabled, knew about but did not care about; and for those responsible to remain beyond justice. It's the attitude that supports the religious discriminating against homosexuals and women, when we wouldn't tolerate it from any other organisation or on any other grounds than professed belief in an imaginary being. Shame on the BBC for perpetuating this attitude so thoughlessly and carelessly.