Here we go, now the churches want to tell BBC Radio 1 what it should broadcast, and no they're not calling for more garage punk or dancehall on the nation's most popular music station. The Independent reports that catholic and anglican bishops want Radio 1 to broadcast more...drum roll...religious output...there's a surprise.
What made me laugh, aside from the bare faced cheek of it all, was the claim that religion played a "major part" in the life of our youth and that they had a "thirst for spiritual input".
Let's do some fact checking on this claim. First let's see what kind of thirst for religious broadcasting exists amongst the nation's youth. How about TV viewing data? Ofcom's annual review of UK broadcasting tells us on page 94 that people aged 16-24 watched on average 1.1 hours of religious programmes on TV. Is that 1.1 hours a week? A month? Every three months? No that would be 1.1 hours during the whole of the year. Wow, an insatiable thirst there don't you think!
Ok what about the claim that religion played a "major part" in the lives of young people? let's be generous why not refer to the findings of the church's own inquiry into the "spirituality" of youth called Making Sense of Generation Y. In the report John Sentamu - the Archbishop of York no less - said:
“The research suggests young people are happy with life as it is, that they have felt no need for a transcendent something else and regard the Church as boring and irrelevant.”
The report also found:
“...the data indicated that they found meaning and significance in the reality of everyday life, which the popular arts helped them to understand and imbibe.”
So there you go, young people don't choose to watch religious broadcasting and the church's own research says they find the church "boring and irrelevant". But hey, who expects religious leaders to keep to the facts when they are involved in a bit of blatant lobbying for ever more special privileges and subsidies?
As naturalyoghurt puts it: "I know the church has problems recruiting believers to their fantasy beliefs but if they want to get media bandwidth they should have to pay for it like any other single issue group."