Section 12: Religion
When a religion or denomination is the subject of religious output, the identity of the religion or denomination must be clear.
Religious output should not be used to recruit, for example by making direct appeals to audiences to join a particular religion. References to the positive effects of belonging to a particular religion will normally be acceptable.
We should treat any claims made in our religious output for the special powers or abilities of a living person or group with due objectivity. Such claims should not be made when significant numbers of children may be expected to be watching television or when children are particularly likely to be listening to the radio, or in online content likely to appeal to a high proportion of children.
Contributors to religious output should not be allowed to undermine or denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Religion and religious views may be criticised but we should ensure there is appropriate context and critical views are open to challenge.
Any content dealing with matters of religion and likely to cause offence to those with religious views and beliefs must be editorially justified as judged against generally accepted standards and must be referred to a senior editorial figure or, for independents, to the commissioning editor.
Drama, comedy and other genres may legitimately cover matters relating to religion, but we should always be aware of the potential for offence. Specialist advice is available from the Religion and Ethics department and from colleagues in the World Service as well as from Editorial Policy.
With user generated content on religion, care is necessary to strike the right balance between freedom of expression and avoiding unnecessary offence. We are more likely to achieve this balance if:
- the space is actively hosted
- we select a suitable form of moderation
- on occasion, we make a rapid intervention - unless, for example, the online community has already responded robustly and in an authoritative way to an offensive comment.
(See Guidance: Moderation, Hosting, Escalation and User Management)
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