Complaints After BBC’s Christian Programme Broadcasts Gay Church Wedding

ROME, ITALY - OCTOBER 21: A Rainbow Cake displayed during the inauguration of the Gay Wedding Fair, the first exhibition in Italy dedicated to civil unions on October 21, 2016 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Simona Granati/Corbis via Getty Images)
Simona Granati/Corbis via Getty Images

The BBC has received over 1,000 complaints after airing an episode of their flagship Christian programme Songs of Praise that contained a gay church wedding.

Songs of Praise has been broadcasting Christian hymns sung in churches across the country on Sundays since 1961. On the August 18th episode dedicated to faith and marriage, it showed a wedding of two men at Rutherglen United Reformed Church near Glasgow, Scotland.

The United Reformed Church is one of a few Christian denominations to allow same-sex weddings, whereas, for example, the Church of England does not. This was not only the first gay wedding to be performed at Rutherglen United Reformed Church, but the first to be broadcast by Songs of Praise.

During the BBC One programme, host Kate Bottley described the Church’s decision to reject Biblical teachings and redefine marriage as “momentous”.

According to The Timesreporting on Saturday, the BBC received 1,238 complaints. A BBC spokesman said in a statement: “Songs of Praise tells the stories of Christians across all denominations in the UK and in so doing, aims to reflect the balance of opinions on different issues.

“We featured the wedding of James and Ian to find out what it meant to them as Christians to be able to take their vows in church.”

Songs of Praise‘s executive producer Cat Lewis also defended the decision, saying that as the “United Reformed Church is the sixth biggest in the country and as Britain’s only Christian TV series, it is very important we reflect all aspects of the faith”.

The Christian Institute’s Deputy Director for Communications Ciarán Kelly said: “That’s a huge number of complaints. Whether the BBC have enough humility to take them on board remains to be seen.

“When the decision was taken to make this episode, producers must have known that the Christian faith teaches that marriage is between one man and one woman.

“With just ten minutes’ research they would have discovered that 99.5 per cent of places of worship in England and Wales don’t conduct same-sex weddings.

“The programme only featured three stories, and yet the BBC still chose one of them to promote same-sex marriage.”

This is not the first time that the BBC has sought to diversify its religious programming, with the broadcaster concluding in 2016 that Christianity features too heavily in its religious output and pledging to increase its coverage of other religions, including Islam.

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