The BBC is set to broadcast a controversial programme tomorrow about Mary Magdalene which is expected to suggest that she was married to Jesus Christ.
"You can watch the programme on BBC1 at 12noon tomorrow (Good Friday) or on the BBC's iPlayer service shortly after. Please contact the BBC to voice your concerns and to ask that it broadcasts a follow-up programme based on more accurate scholarship.
Melvyn Bragg is presenting the programme. Based on his discussion of it in the Telegraph, we believe the BBC's decision to show it is offensive because:
- in a broadcast at the precise time Christians are remembering his death on the cross, this programme questions the purity of Jesus;
- the claims about Jesus are based on dubious scholarship;
- it makes indefensible claims about the nature of the Bible (e.g. the process by which the books of the Bible came to be recognised and collated);
- it feeds on Dan Brown's 'Da Vinci Code' hypothesis rather than taking account of sensible scholarship.
The programme is being billed as a major contribution to the BBC's Easter programming. The timing of it is highly inappropriate and inflammatory.
Please contact the BBC to ask for a further programme to set the record straight.
The BBC's response will depend on what level of feedback it receives - your comments will make a difference. So, please contact the BBC as soon as possible after 12noon.
It did seem a trifle odd to me that I should be encouraged to complain about a program before it had even been broadcast, but as I had not heard elsewhere about this program I decided I should watch it. As I was out on a "Walk of Witness" during the broadcast itself I recorded the show and watched it later yesterday.
My finding was that the scholarship was good, there was nothing in it to undermine the teaching of the Bible, and that the timing of the broadcast on Good Friday means that more people would watch the show, and engage with Christian Issues as a consequence. What did not come out so well was the Church. From around the second Century till today the Church struggles with finding a role for women, something that Jesus had no problem with even two thousand years ago when women were less than full people!
I am enormously encouraged by the actions of Pope Francis washing the feet of women prisoners on Thursday, I hope that this may be a sign of an increasing liberalisation in the Church, but as we all know sometimes these things can take a long time. I do think that if Christians (like me) want and expect to play a full part in influencing society we have to be seen to living to the values we espouse. Acting in love in all matters, serving all people equally, loving all regardless of race, gender, or actions.