Not having a TV in our home, I don't see much the BBC puts out to the nation's screens (my main media dose comes when I catch a snatch of Radio 4 most days while travelling to work).
But recently, and unusually, I watched a DVD of some old episodes of Spooks,
the beeb’s TV drama about MI5.
Who knows if it bears the slightest resemblance to reality? The spies in the
series seem to have semi-divine powers of surveillance and observation (mainly via
whiz-bang ICT; topical, these days, given Farage, Snowden et al). The spooks
in the series pit their wits against traitors, crazies, fanatics and fundies of every stripe.
They save great old Great Britain week after week from the forces of terror.
Perhaps it was in the interest of fairness – some sort of PC gesture? – that an episode I watched dealt with a fundamentalist terrorist group not
of a dissident-political or Islamic flavour – but Christian. A “Christian”/“evangelical”
group decided to systematically attack and terrorize Muslims in the UK.
The portrayal was utterly unconvincing.
I know I’m biased. I’m Christian. Yet in all my years as a Christian – an evangelical
one at that – I have never met, or read anything by, or seen or heard any hint
of a single one who wants to betray the precepts of their Founder to the extent
of bombing their enemies. Even the utterly odious Westboro Baptist Church only
threaten hell; they don’t blow people up.
Before you say it, yes, I know: the Crusades. The Inquisition. George
Bush. Et cetera. I’m not saying the Christian Church has always eschewed
violence in its chequered and compromised history. But what bothered me about the portrayal in
Spooks was the assumption, which you find quite often in various media, that evangelical = fundamentalist = loony = dangerous.
Too many leaps. The result was a portrayal of Christianity that my inside
knowledge knew that I didn't know. If you know what I mean.
It made me wonder (having no inside knowledge) whether their portrayal
of Islamic fundamentalists was equally skewed (any Muslim friends care to
I despise Christian bigotry and am revolted by the silly sweeping statements
that can come from Christians. Those from my own branch of Christianity, the evangelical
fraternity, can outrage me most: when those most like me say things to which I
want to shout, “Not in my name!” But I do yearn for some real Christians to be on
the tele or the radio; Christians I can actually recognise. Humble,
hardworking, compassionate, troubled-by-bigotry, trying-to-work-it-out, able-to-laugh-at-themselves,
sacrificial, serving – in short, like the many, many I know – Christians.
Prejudice can go in many directions. Let’s oppose it in all its forms.
P.S. You can vote on how Christians are portrayed by the BBC on a poll here.