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Friday, 17 October 2008

Appalled by ABC axing

ABC LogoGiven that Australia prides itself on being a multicultural and multifaith society, the axing of Radio National’s Religion Report is a very short sighted and extremely poor decision.


This program fulfils a task very few others do. It bridges social stigma and presents the latest news on religious affairs both here in Australia and across the world. With religious intolerance growing increasingly apparent in many parts of the world, never before has informed and considered analysis of religious affairs been more important. And never have there been so few dedicated religious affairs reporters.
It is interesting to note that one of the newly proposed programs for 2009 will focus on ‘…the shifting cultural, social, political and economic responses’. Where is the religious response? It is foolish to think that matters of faith do not affect politics, economics, culture and good government. For this reason alone, the Religion Report should be aired.
We have witnessed some ugly clashes, based on religious prejudice, on our shores in recent times – think of the Cronulla riots or the fiercely public opposition to an Islamic school in outer Sydney. Meanwhile, Australia’s churches and other faith groups have been working very hard together, towards mutual understanding and peaceful relations. Increasing understanding in our multifaith society is a vital factor if we are to continue to live in harmony in Australia.
According to its Charter, the ABC is committed to exploring both ‘cultural diversity’ and ‘national identity’ in its programming. We would affirm the importance of including religion in our collective understanding of both those terms.
Perhaps rather than worrying about revenue and ratings, ABC management should be considering the question: Who are Australians losing greater faith in: their religion or the ABC?
Rev Gregor Henderson
President, Uniting Church in Australia