Archbishop says dropping religion TV shows 'dangerous'

The Archbishop of Canterbury The Most Rev Justin Welby picked out two recent examples of religious programming for praise

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Dropping religion from TV schedules would have "dangerous" consequences, the Archbishop of Canterbury has warned.

The Most Reverend Justin Welby said that abandoning religious programming would "cultivate ignorance".

He told the Radio Times that religious formats were the real "reality shows".

He also praised ITV's Strictly Kosher and Channel 4's show Islam: The Untold Story as examples of good religious programming.

The archbishop said: "For adults over a certain age who received little in the way of religious education at school - especially of an inter-faith variety - religious broadcasting is likely to be their best guide to the different faiths, not just of the people they see on the news but of the people they meet at the school gates, or queue next to at the post office."

He also said that there were some who believe faith and religious life should be kept behind closed doors.

'Open minds needed'

"But if broadcasters were also to adopt the view that religion is something separate and private, rather than stitched into our public life, then we could set off down a dangerous road.

"We would be cultivating ignorance where what we need is insight, and prejudice where we most badly need open minds.

The archbishop, who was enthroned in March, went on to say that it was "essential that we support broadcasting that teaches us about those around us".

"The marvellous portrait of Manchester's Jewish community in ITV's Strictly Kosher is one example of how the media can help us to see the people around us as they really are.

"Likewise, Channel 4's Islam: the Untold Story gave viewers an opportunity to appreciate the rich and fascinating history of the Muslim faith.

"Telling stories about ourselves and others, in a way that celebrates the full scope of what it means to be human: that for me is what makes a reality show."

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