Sunday 21 July 2013

...and Sunday morning

Following Saturday night comes 'Sunday' morning and, thus, the latest results from my experiment to predict the type of stories Edward Stourton's Radio 4 programme would - and wouldn't - cover, based on my sense of the programme's many biases. 

Well, none of the stories I predicted wouldn't come up came up. So that's a clean sweep there!

My prediction that the Pope's visit to Brazil would be covered was also correct. It was the opening story. 

From the usual list of Sunday ingredients - "the usual diet of breaking news from the Arab world, Christian-related abuse stories, bad news about the Catholic Church, something about human rights, the usual airing of Muslim grievances, a call for something or other by a left-wing campaign group, an Anglican row over something" - we got the 'Christian-related abuse story'/'bad news about the Catholic Church' and 'an Anglican row over something'. 

Last week's edition plugged a Thought for the Day regular, David Wilkinson. This week's edition plugged another Thought for the Day regular, Bishop James Jones. The usual 'Anglican rows' theme came up in this section too. 

The other items reflected particular perspectives we might well associate with the BBC. The Traylon Martin-George Zimmerman story led, inevitably for Sunday [and the BBC more generally], to an interview with an African-American pastor/campaigner who denounced the acquittal of Mr Zimmerman by a jury and talked a lot about racism. Even the interesting story about the Lutheran church in London was given a little pro-immigration spin.

Here's an outline of this week's edition.

7.10 Intro

7.11 Pope Francis is going to Brazil for World Youth Day. We hear the views of some pilgrims from the UK. Edward Stourton talks to Paulo Cabral of the BBC. Ed asks no tough questions about Pope Francis, but asks about the standing of the Church in Brazil. [That's as expected]. Paulo says the youth in places like Sao Paulo are more secular, the countryside is more deeply Catholic. The number of Catholics has fallen from 95% to 70% in the past 20 years, partly down to the rise of evangelical Protestantism. The cost of the event is also discussed.

7.17 The acquittal of George Zimmerman over the killing of "Traylon" [as Edward calls him]. He speaks to Pastor Valerie Houston of Allen Chapel AME Church in Sanford, Florida, who took a key role in leading the campaign against Mr Zimmerman. She is very unhappy about the result. Ed asked her what the killing tells us about racism in the USA. 

7.21 St George's Lutheran Church is 250 years old this week. It was the first German church in England. Trevor Barnes reports. An "undeniably handsome church" Trevor calls it. He discusses immigration. German immigrants felt welcome here at the time, especially given the Hanoverian monarchy. The congregation dwindled before the First World War, as anti-German sentiment rose. We also hear about anti-Nazi theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer's connections to the church. The church no longer has a permanent congregation but isn't a museum piece. The closing vox pop says that the church's history provides a model of successful immigration for our age.

7.26 NI divisions. We hear from Norman Hamilton, a Presbyterian minister, and a Catholic priest, Father Martin McGill on how the churches can bring about healing in the province. 

7.32 The [Anglican] Church of St Stephen Walbrook in the City of London is trying to sell a painting by Benjamin West to the US. There's a row about it. Ed talks to Anne Sloman, chair of the Church Buildings Council, who's against the sale and tells him why. [She was also the BBC’s Chief Political Adviser from 1996 to 2004 and used to defend its reputation for impartiality]. 

7.36 'Catholic Whistle-Blowers', a new organisation campaigning against Catholic child abuse in the US. Matt Wells reports from New Jersey on the campaign to back whistle-blowers who speak out against clerical abuse. We hear from campaigners, a campaigning journalist and an approving New York Times reporter. Matt asks one if he's encouraged by the change of tone of the new pope. The Vatican is the key, they say.

7.42 James Jones is stepping down as Anglican Bishop of Liverpool. Edward interviews him about the Hillsborough inquiry and his softening views on gay marriage. He had, Edward says, been "quite hardline" on that in the past. [A telling chose of words]. The example of the "beloved disciple" in the Gospel of St. John has made him re-think same-sex intimacy. Edward then discussed other "divisive" issues in the Church (such as women bishops). Edward then asked him about the north-south divide in the Church and asked him about the "reluctance" in the Church to tackle the issue of fairness. Finally, he asked him in what state he leaves Liverpool in. A news series - 'The Bishop and the Bankers' - begins on Radio 4 tomorrow night.

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