In God’s Name: Channel 4 Dispatches

Being that I am in a particularly good mood these days, I found it hard to be angry at the program I’ve just endured on Channel 4, about the rise of Christian fundamentalism in the UK – and it’s increasing influence on British government policy (which I will record the re-play of on Wednesday 20th May on More4, attempt to upload to Google video and embed here – but I can’t promise the copyright police won’t get upset, cry for their mummy and reject it – so you might want to search for it instead).

The lack of my usual anger towards the people and views expressed in the program is not entirely down to the fact that I’m on cloud nine in love with Miss Lucy – although it helps. In this case, it was simply that those of us who’ve been watching the rise of Christian fundamentalism in the US, have been waiting for someone to notice that it is just as bad here in the UK – and this program should certainly have raised the hackles of anyone previously oblivious to this unfortunate fact.

Dispatches, for those who don’t know, is one of the few documentary series left on British television which prides itself on high standards of real journalism into serious subjects. The filmmaker in this case was no exception – giving all the people shown in the program more than enough space to back peddle away from some of the things they said on camera, which could have been perhaps said without knowing their microphone was still live. Unfortunately none of them backed down even when given the opportunity.

Day-to-day Christians who you might work with or socialise amongst are harmless enough; accidentally mislead, but ultimately set their ways on the strangest of subjects, yet nice enough people in every other regard. The screaming lunatics in ‘In God’s Name’ were the other kind of Christian; the shout at the world kind who end every sentence with impressive sounding religious in-speak, about the coming of the lord and hallelujah in His name, et cetera.

Everything they do is done “in Jesus’ name”. Their presumption to know the mind of the same God who also made their enemy is particularly alarming. Their enemy, by the way, is you – yes you. You and your shameless effrontery to actually listen to the views of people like me. You’re going to burn in someone else’s imaginary hell, you bastard!

Of course this mind numbing ignorance is easily justified in their minds as yet another example of His mysterious way, although quite where the magisterial ways in hating someone because they happen to be sexually compatible with someone of their same sex lies, is – you might notice, never fully explored. There is just as little interest; no such caveat in their non-logic to explain the statistical matter of fact that same sex marriages are rarely broken up by nought but death and that they are more often than not entered into by people who have been monogamous to each other most of their adult life.

The hatred towards other religious people in the program runs much deeper than I would have thought legal to broadcast in this day and age – but I am somewhat resigned and – dare I say it – almost cold to the sad fact, that because some of the things which were said about Muslims were uttered by white, Christian and therefore “natural to these lands” folk of “good character”, they’ll get away without any of it being investigated by the same police who’s human conscience is so low as to allow themselves to beat up and even murder rationally minded people, just because they’re deluded into believing they live in a free country; where such anarchistic behaviour as singing “give peace a chance” outside an American weapons factory is punishable by imprisonment. But, that’s the pigs for you.

Suffice to say, that if the views being expressed on other religions were uttered from the lips of poor Muslim people, from the housing estates of Bradford, they’d be in Guantanamo Bay before you could say ‘The BNP have won seats in every local council election for the past 5 years’ – but I digress.

My ability to remain calm was broken only by the main thrust of the last third of the film. The gist of which being that, apparently, we’re all going to burn in hell because some scientists have seen a light at the end of the tunnel, in curing some of the most devastating of illnesses – like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Our certain* doom is not simply assured because it is God’s will that children should be allowed to die of hereditary ailments, but because their unborn brother or sister, who would most certainly also have the same sickness, has to be born into a short life of pain and suffering too. Being male and therefore utterly incapable of truly understanding the bond between a woman and her foetus, I’m usually agnostic on the subject of abortion – but I am increasingly alarmed at the lack of understanding being shown on all sides of the debate, in the vast difference between Russian athletes who deliberately become pregnant so as to glean a legal hormone training performance advantage and the victims of violent and repeated rape.

The very fact that God’s chosen ones can no more differentiate between the two than see it in the sacred heart of Jesus to leave politics out of the relationship between a doctor and patient is, to my mind, the only reason normal Christians** should need to completely detach themselves from any involvement in an organisation which actively campaigns on other people’s suffering and has the shit-eating balls to call it the work of gentle Jesus meek and mild.

*Not actually certain at all
**Oxymoron alert!

Edit: Since writing the above, the program has been shown again and I have captured it and uploaded it to Google.

Watch in full screen.


6 comments on “In God’s Name: Channel 4 Dispatches

  1. Yeah, having a partner helps diffuse the anger.
    This fundamentalism stuff really rattles me. I don’t think the ‘normal’ Christians at my old church are really aware of it, and if they are, they are perfectly content to let the wackos do what they’re doing. When I saw ‘christians’ with such hatred as to protest at funeral sites, or anything that came out of Jerry Falwell’s mouth with a national spotlight, I was just sick. So sick I couldn’t stand the thought of aligning myself. And, AND! The more I researched my religion, the more I found out we actually agreed with those assholes! !!! We would just never have the bad enough taste to do it publicly and disruptively. Great, so now I’m a member of a lazy, apathetic asshole congregation? Get me some fucking Buddhism or something.

    Or nothing at all, as the case turns out. :)

  2. I think that’s an important point. Most people who go to church out of habit simply don’t realise what they’re putting their name and collection plate money towards.

    There’s what’s known as a free vote in the house of commons today, to reconsider the medical advice on the abortion limit cut-off. A free vote means that, unlike in the case of a policy which the government wants to force through (by instructing MP’s to vote in line with the will of the party leadership) members are instead free to vote on a matter of conscience.

    Great, right? Err, actually no.

    Many MP’s are spared the wrath of the UK parliament’s equivalent of the US’s super-delegate (literally called the party whip), only to be thrown over to whichever lobbyist from a private religiously funded organisation gets to them first; thrusting ‘evidence’ in their face, drawn up by Christian lawyers.

    The British Medical Council, on the other hand, who widely approve of the existing 24 weeks maximum term abortion rate (because no baby has ever survived outside of the womb when delivered before 24 weeks), are left out in the cold – not knowing what advice they’re going to be asked to give to women who come to them for help seconds after the speaker of the house declares the vote count.

    The follow-on to your comment, is that – when you actually look at the hard statistics – drawn up over a large sample group by numerous reputable pollsters over a long period of time, on average, 60% of people who describe themselves as ‘devout catholics’, support the woman’s right to choose up to 24 weeks – yet a tiny minority of catholic hard-liners insist on ignoring the medical advice.

    Their campaign’s claim thousands of pounds in Church donations, which the vast majority of the congregation who gave so generously, are being lead to believe goes towards helping the people who need it the most – the destitute, often drug dependant and vulnerable young women who’s life of misery is being made only 10 times worse by the very people who claim to be helping her; taking away the last tiny piece of control they have left over their own bodies.

    The horror stories people in my own family, who work in social services have told me, would be enough to make these self-righteous people immediately stop their meddling in other people’s misery, if only they weren’t so blinkered by the infallibility of anything they choose to say, so long as it’s punctuated by “in Jesus’ name” and the occasional “praise him, hallelujah” and so on.

  3. There’s a woman’s health services that’s in our neighborhood that a lady protests all the time. She doesn’t have signs or anything, she just walks around with a huge cross. She isn’t interested in helping vulnerable young women — she wants to feel good about herself. Look at her, sacrificing her free time to stand up for innocent babies. Pfft. She’s selfish and ignorant and has nothing better to do than make other people miserable.

  4. One afternoon it was raining, so, heaven forbid she get wet… so she sat in her car in the Woman’s Health Services parking lot… but she put her windows down… and blasted the tape deck. We were walking by and couldn’t figure out at first what noise was coming out of there … until we realized she was blasting a looped sound effect of babies crying. Babies. Crying. Outside an abortion clinic. Oh yes, I’m sure she really wants to help these women during their most difficult hour.

    What. the FUCK.

  5. Perhaps inevitably, Dispatches: In God’s Name provoked a huge response amongst Channel 4 viewers… Last week, in reaction to that response, C4’s viewers’ editor Paula Carter met with Kevin Sutcliffe, the channel’s deputy head of news and current affairs, to discuss the programme. Find out what he had to say by reading Paula’s latest blog on The TV Show website – and if you have any further comments, we’d love to hear them.


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