BBC excoriated by ex-staffer for being ‘ignorant’ about Christianity

BBC excoriated by ex-staffer for being ‘ignorant’ about Christianity April 17, 2019
Image via Facebook

A BLISTERING attack has been launched against BBC 1’s News at Ten by one its former employees, Catherine Utley, above, for the manner in which it covered the Notre Dame Cathedral fire.

Writing for The Article yesterday the Catholic journalist, who worked for the corporation for 30 years, said:

It really was a remarkable feat for BBC 1’s News at Ten last night to get through the entire programme, without a single mention of any of these words: Christian; Christianity; Catholic; worship; worshippers; sacred; Mass; Holy Week.

It was as if it hadn’t occurred to any of them that the awful fire which had been engulfing Notre Dame Cathedral for several hours by the time they came on air, was anything deeper or more meaningful – to billions, at least, of Christians worldwide (particularly Catholics) – than the tragic destruction of a particularly well visited tourist attraction.

She said that the the historic significance of the cathedral had been mentioned. But:

Where was the talk of its sacred spaces, made holy by the prayers of Catholic worshippers over hundreds of years? Where the footage of the great Masses celebrated there? Where the clips of the choir raising their voices in hymns of praise?  Or the shots of the crowds gathered outside as the fire blazed, singing hymns and praying that the Cathedral might be saved?

Why, in short, did the BBC’s flagship news programme, when it had time to prepare its coverage properly, fail to acknowledge Notre Dame’s importance as France’s most profound expression of the Christian civilisation on which an entire continent was founded?

Image via YouTube

She then expanded her criticism to write of the “rot” at the heart of the BBC in relation to the Christian faith. This, she believes:

Set in, I think, many years ago. It matters because it has now reached the stage where even the slaughter and persecution of Christians worldwide, from Nigeria to China, goes woefully under-reported. Domestic outlets are much worse offenders than the World Service, but even the latter cannot be wholly exonerated.

How has this come to be? Much of it stems from ignorance. As a Catholic, I was amazed, at Bush House, at how newsroom colleagues, brought up and educated in the UK, with a knowledge of the global geopolitical scene which far surpassed my own, could be so ignorant about Christianity.

I remember one Good Friday on the newsdesk discovering that only one of half a dozen bright, well educated BBC journalists I was working with that day, knew what event it commemorated. Even now, as I write, the seasoned BBC journalist, Hugh Schofield, is telling the World at One that the Notre Dame calamity happened in Easter week.

No, Hugh. We are not in EASTER week. We are in HOLY Week. We must go through the Last Supper, the betrayal of Christ and His crucifixion before we, at last, next week, come to the joy of the resurrection and the celebration of Easter.

She added:

But there’s more to it than ignorance. They do not wish to know. A world view which accepts without question the ‘enlightened’ liberal view on matters such as abortion and euthanasia long since, took hold at the BBC, to the extent where, even at the World Service – that last bastion of neutrality – the normal, scrupulous checks on whether we were ‘editorialising’ the story were cast aside when these matters were our subject. Abortion is a right. Fact. Forget those in parts of the world in which we broadcast where it is not regarded as such.

The unfolding of the vile scandal of sex abuse in the Catholic Church has merely served to confirm the BBC’s already well established prejudice against Catholicism. Sex abuse has become the only Catholic issue considered worth reporting.

Thousands turned out to protest against Pope Benedict’s visit to the UK in 2010. Image via YouTube

When Pope Benedict visited  London in 2010, an edict was issued from the morning editorial conference at Bush House, that the Pope’s remarks on child abuse, made on his journey here, were to remain at the top of the story ‘for a reasonable number of hours’, apparently regardless of anything that might subsequently happen, or that he might say on other topics on arrival.

It was an astonishing departure from our normal editorial practice of judging a story as it developed and on its merits. Shortly after the edict was issued, I was asked if I would mind moving from my position as lead writer for the day to the Africa desk, about which I knew nothing. I was replaced by someone who knew nothing of the Pope. Such a thing had never happened to me before and never happened again. I was told later, at second-hand, that it was felt that it might be better to have someone who wasn’t a Catholic write the Pope story.

The Notre Dame fire, happening at the start of Holy Week, is especially poignant to Christians because the sight of the flames devouring the Cathedral looks to them like a symbol of the destruction, fuelled by lack of understanding, of all they believe in. When the arduous re-construction begins, a huge amount of thought will need to be given to the purpose which the Cathedral is there to serve.

A great many people will be involved in this exercise. Perhaps, after the pain and suffering of this saddest of weeks Parisians will start to witness a new beginning on a level deeper than we can, as yet, imagine. Our Lady of France, pray for us!

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  • Tawreos

    Wow, that is a lot of delusional christian privilege to take in at one time.

  • Broga

    This petulant and near hysterical whine by Ms Utley might have mentioned that in the present week the BBC deluges its airwaves with Christianity. The reason for the ignorance, despite that tsunami of Christianity, must lie with the inadequacy of the vicars and priests who fail to convince despite their efforts. They insist on endless repetition of the seem incredible myths and assume that we must accept meekly and without question.

    They refuse to open the airwaves to debates with those with secular opinions when some real challenge and intellectual confrontation would provide information and interest. The last time this happened Stephen Fry demolished the smug, confident Anne Widdicombe to such an extent that any further similar opportunities were unlikely to be extended. (I can’t be sure the Widdicombe debacle was even shown on BBC.)

  • johnsoncatman

    Yeah. I quit reading it after the first paragraph, thinking “Fuck you”.

  • Götterdämmerung

    Good grief, these whining religious nuts seem to expect a sermon every time a religious building is mentioned. A building of historical significance caught fire, that is all that needs to be said. I expect others have noticed around the country, Christian zealots putting up bits of old telegraph pole in a cruciform shape, some on common land and hills – like a Dog marking its territory. Disgusting considering religious people are the minority.

  • Darrell L. Garlock

    Actually, we do understand Ms Utley. Jesus was a mythological human sacrifice because we are all so evil, etc. The entire scheme has collapsed, we’re waiting for you to catch up.

  • Michael Neville

    Shorter Utley: I has a sad because the BBC reported the news instead of providing religious propaganda.

  • Broga

    That, as you rightly say, is her complaint. She is complaining, in brief, because we do not all think as she as decided we must think, and behave as she has decided we must behave.

  • Broga

    I skimmed through it. The fare was too stodgy to need anything else.

  • Rann

    Had she googled “Easter Week”, she would have had her answer – for most* of the world, Easter Week is the exact same as Holy Week. There is no other use.

    *excluding ranting, delusional nut-jobs

  • persephone

    I’m just done with Catholics. Anybody that can continue to support a faith that has rotted to the core is a fool.

  • Freethinker

    Funny. All that verbal diarrhea and she failed to acknowledge her imaginary “omnipotent” sky friends were once again nowhere to be found to prevent the fire from getting started in the first place. But full points for looking the part of a religious quack nut though.

  • Freethinker

    “just” Catholics?

  • Matt G

    I didn’t realize it was the BBC’s job to promote Christianity. Her criticisms would hold more weight if she hadn’t prattled on about how important it is TO HER! In addition, she treats her beliefs as if they were facts.

  • Vanity Unfair

    “One of the world’s most beautiful and important buildings has caught fire. Instead of showing you pictures of the extent of the damage and the great efforts made by fire-fighters to contain the conflagration we would prefer to show you some recordings of a service held a few weeks ago.”
    No, Ms. Utley, that is not why people watch a news programme. They want to know what is happening now. Most people know, at least in general, what happens in a church on normal occasions: singing, men in frocks, the ritual of swinging a flaming handbag, some light refreshments. It is the burning building that warrants attention. Surely somebody explained the meaning of “news” while you were working for the BBC.

  • WallofSleep

    “It matters because it has now reached the stage where even the slaughter and persecution of Christians worldwide, from Nigeria to China, goes woefully under-reported.”

    Yeah, well, the centuries of child rape/murder committed by the RCC and the massive coverups it has engaged in has also gone woefully under-reported. So I guess what I’m saying is: have a cracker and a wine and STFU!

  • WallofSleep

    By her twisted logic, she would have the BBC spend inordinate amounts of time going over the contributions of the Wright Bros. and the history of aviation every time they report on a modern day plane crash. Utley, get over your damn self, and quit supporting an international ring of pedophiles.

  • Ann Kah

    The news was that the building burned. None of that other nonsense had any news value. The only people for whom the words catholic, Christian, sacred, Holy Week, etc. have any meaning at all are presumed to know all that stuff already, and are presumed to own a calendar.

  • Ann Kah

    Perhaps they are the reason that they are in the minority. The more sophisticated society becomes, the sillier all the minutiae and all the ritual become. People nowadays are more likely to ask “Why?”, and the more likely they are to see religion as some fad, something like an etch-a-sketch or a pet rock, and ask embarrassing questions like “But what does it DO? What is it FOR?”.

  • B.A.


  • TrickyDicky

    “But what does it DO? What is it FOR?”

    For the benefit of the clergy.

  • Michael Newsham

    Well, at least on CNN they reported that the Crown of Thorns that Jesus wore at the Crucifixion was saved, Also a piece of the True Cross that Notre Dame was fortunate enough to possess. I sympathize, as I was lucky enough to see the Tooth of the Buddha when it was brought to Taiwan. It is very rare- there are eight or ten others rescued from his funeral pyre and preserved for the next 2500 years, though the priests assured me that only this one was the actual Tooth.

  • Raging Bee

    Why, in short, did the BBC’s flagship news programme, when it had time to prepare its coverage properly, fail to acknowledge Notre Dame’s importance as France’s most profound expression of the Christian civilisation on which an entire continent was founded?

    What channel was she watching, and when? The BBC mentioned ALL of those things, in plain bloody English! I know this because I’ve been getting all my information about the fire from the Beeb since the minute I first heard about it. But hey, I guess she has TOTAL FAITH in her anti-secular prejudices, right?

  • Raging Bee

    Okay then.

  • She probably has faith that a lot of her audience either didn’t watch the broadcasts, or will convince themselves she’s right even if they did.

  • Littleblueheathen

    Hey, lady your purse is on fire!

  • Brian Curtis

    Religious crusader demands MORE attention for her personal crusade, MORE!

  • Brian Curtis

    Not to mention at least three of John the Baptist’s feet. And over thirty nails from Jesus’s cross. And all of Saint Peter’s heads, too!

  • Broga

    They saved “the crown of thorns” so we can relax on that one. There are enough pieces of the real cross around the work to supply a log burning business for the next ten years. Same magic as worked with the feeding of the 5,000, I suppose.

  • Raging Bee

    Nails? Please. Any demon-possessed teenager can puke up all the nails you’d need. You can sell them in the gift shop!

  • Raging Bee

    Don’t forget the brie!

  • David Cromie

    There are enough pieces from the ‘true’ cross to build a fleet of ships. Then there is the feather from the ‘holy host’.

  • David Cromie

    The educated world, and its dog knows, for the most part, that the designation ‘Notre Dame’ indicates an edifice dedicated to the Roman church and the spread of its vile delusions among the superstitious plebs.

  • disqus_rW3ymtwY0A

    Swinging of a flaming handbag

  • towercam

    I’m sorry Catherine Utley is so very religion deluded.
    Apparently, little Catherine never questioned the poop she was fed as a child, about a god.
    She’s just what a dictator would want, an unquestioning slave.

    Talk about your unquestioning minions!
    It’s a wonder Mz Utley is able to type. One might think her ‘god’ wouldn’t want her fooling with metallic devices – you remember the scriptural bilge about the iron chariots, right? Look it up.

    I’m sorry, Catherine, that you’ve wasted so very much of your life, believing in things that have ZERO PROOF, when you know, down deep, that the time to believe is when you have PROOF. YOU have none!

    Time to grow up now, Catherine Utley! If not now, WHEN? Sheesh!

  • persephone

    Not just Catholics, but most other religions I can give some people a pass on.

  • Jon Pierson

    Displaying a bewildering lack of knowledge (common amongst the religious), former BBC “journalist”, Catherine Utley, failed to recognise that Notre Dame de Paris, a building which was the subject of a cataclysmic fire 15 April, is, in fact, owned by the constitutionally secular French State and NOT the Roman Catholic Church…”

  • albatross

    And, during the 9/11 attacks, the news should have shown stock footage of the trading floors in the WTC. Perhaps, also, clips pf people walking through the halls of the Pentagon. Maybe some footage of cows wandering in a field in Western PA.

  • marbles

    Uhh… I thought the BBC never bothered to mention that Notre-Dame is a place of Christian worship etc. because it’s self-evident. The overwhelming majority of Europeans knows what churches are for. By Ms Utley’s logic, every time a car crash is reported, there should be an explanation about what cars are used for, how they work, accompanied by extensive footage of people driving.

  • Mike Curnutt

    Another idiot.

  • Carl Wiggins

    I can’t recall hearing any of the god fearing state that this fire was god punishing the Catholics for all their pedophile priests, you know like how he causes tornado’s and gun violence to punish the gays and stuff.

  • rubaxter

    Apparently, I say “Apparently”, now even fire has Free Will?

    Does this have anything to do with the fact that Jeebus and his contemporaries thought Fire was an Element?

    Deluded cow.

  • Judy Thompson

    oh, I have one of those too. If anyone needs it, I’d be willing to share a sliver of it…

  • rubaxter

    What an incredible position of Privilege people have who can get away with prancing about on the Public’s dime, flouncing their personal delusions with no useful end but buffing the cow pats of Christers’ egos.

    I’ve fallen asleep reading technical documents, in the past, but have gone back cuz they actually have somming useful in them, mostly. This is one spew I wish I hadn’t just sat down with a cup of coffee to go over.

  • rubaxter

    This was sorta a “Man Bites goD” moment, she’s just too inarticulate to appreciate the irony and pun, or the mundanity and inanity of her preferred response.

    C’mon, UK, up your game!

  • Freethinker

    He is a shitty a fire fighter as he is a copilot.

  • TheBookOfDavid

    Thanks for the offer, but I only needed enough pieces for a deck, not a boardwalk.

  • Jim Jones

    It’s a tourist trap, owned by the French state. Stop whining, bitch.

  • Graham

    Where were “the shots of the crowds gathered outside as the fire blazed, singing hymns and praying that the Cathedral might be saved?” Perhaps, out of respect for the worshippers, they were saving them the embarrassment of being seen praying when their god-creature was patently not answering their prayers?

    “I was told later, at second-hand, that it was felt that it might be better to have someone who wasn’t a Catholic write the Pope story.” Perhaps because he wasn’t there as a Catholic but as a Head of State? In order to enjoy the privileges of an official State Visit he had to fly under the banner of Head of the Vatican State, not that of head of the Catholic Church.

  • Connie Beane

    “It was as if it hadn’t occurred to any of them that the awful fire…was anything deeper or more meaningful…than the tragic destruction of a particularly well visited tourist attraction.”

    Well…. As I understand it, Notre Dame is currently owned by the government of France–not the Catholic Church–and brings in billions of euros a year from tourists–many of whom are not Catholics and some of whom are not even Christians–I would say that cultural aspects far outweighed the religious aspect for most of BBC’s viewers.

  • rogero

    …She added:
    “But there’s more to it than ignorance….”

    Oh, the irony !

  • Vanity Unfair

    The whole tooth and nothing but the tooth?

  • Judy Thompson

    it’s a very tiny sliver…

    I was bemused by the mention of the crown of thorns, which amazingly has survived 2000 years…And yet small mention of the artwork saved, or the other ‘less valuable’ antiquities…

    I’m correct in assuming that the C.of T. was signed by jesus himself, to guarantee authenticity?

  • Cage KY

    “…crowds gathered outside as the fire blazed, singing hymns and praying that the Cathedral might be saved…”

    How did THAT work out for them?

  • kenthefitter

    So help me, me.

  • kenthefitter

    Well, I want to know why the discussion did not include the starving of the peasantry and the other atrocities heaped on them to extort the monies necessary to build the cathedral to begin with.

  • Raging Bee

    That’s France-24’s job!

  • Raging Bee

    The altar-cross remained intact! CHECKMATE, ATHEISTS!!!

  • Mark Berry

    “Or the shots of the crowds gathered outside as the fire blazed, singing hymns and praying that the Cathedral might be saved?”

    I’d be comfortable with the BBC including that in their reports IF they noted that the prayers we were witnessing had zero discernible effect on the outcome, demonstrably never do, and never could because God already has his plan, apparently.

  • phatkhat

    So Ms Utley is a FORMER employee of BBC? Good riddance.

  • Phil

    “rot” at the heart of the BBC. Really? The amount of coverage religions get is totally disproportional. And what about “Thought for the day” (B*ll*cks for the day as I affectionately refer to it) which is not open any non-religious contributors. They are probably afraid that a piece by Humanists would actually make sense instead of “Liverpool’s football win is a bit like Jesus’s struggle in the desert” and other such crap.