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Channel Four, John Humphreys and the new thought police

Recent interviews with Tim Farron demonstrate how 'intolerant, authoritarian and anti-Christian' British society is becoming, says David Robertson

Did you hear that amazing interview that John Humphreys did on the Today programme? The one where he badgered Nick Clegg, the former Liberal Democrat leader, about the impact his atheism would have on his decision-making? 

No…you missed it?

Well, what about the extraordinary interview with the former Lib Dem leader on Channel 4 where he was challenged repeatedly about his personal moral views and the fact that he had boasted of having 'no more than 30 notches' on his bed?

You missed that one as well? 

Well so did all of us. Because they don’t exist. No reporter or news programme would ask questions based on such premises. Except when it comes to the crazy idea that a self-describing Evangelical Christian could actually become a leader of a mainstream political party. Then all the gloves are off.

Last week, Channel Four News presenter Cathy Newman asked the new Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, three times whether he thought gay sex was a sin.  John Humphreys on the Today programme also repeatedly badgered the leader on whether he asks God for advice when making big decisions.  

What’s wrong with these approaches? Aren't journalists just doing their job in asking the questions their audiences want answered? 

Lets begin with Mr Humphreys. He was asking, as he well knew, a loaded question. Media commentators, comedians and politicians are all too aware of George Bush’s alleged faux pas claiming that God told him to invade Iraq and Alastair Campbell’s terse response when asked if Tony Blair and George Bush prayed together - ‘we don’t do God’.

Asking Tim Farron whether he asked God for advice was a not so subtle way of mocking his faith. The question would have been more honestly phrased, 'are you a religious nutter who speaks to an invisible man in the sky, rather than rely on the common sense and knowledge that all really intelligent [ie non-religious] people have?’

The problem is that John Humphreys never asks other politicians about how their beliefs affect their decision-making.

Why should it be considered disturbing that a Christian prays for wisdom and guidance to God? Is it not more disturbing that an atheist politician thinks that all wisdom lies within themselves, so they do not need any outside guidance?

And what about asking about your views about sin? 

In the context of modern society it is of course the ultimate sin, the blasphemy against the Holy State, to even question whether any sexual activity, but especially homosexuality, can be considered sinful.

The question was not asked to elicit information. It was asked to accuse and mock. If you have doubts that this was the intention, just have a glance into the murky world of the new atheist/secularist websites where this particular interview has been posted repeatedly, together with the subsequent ignorant and arrogant mocking comments.

What these interviews demonstrate is how intolerant, authoritarian and anti-Christian our society is becoming – at least at its elite levels. 

The danger is that Christian politicians and leaders will be pressured into compromise, and that the mockery narrative will be the background against which many ordinary Christians live their lives.

We need the church to pray for those who are in authority, recognising them as the servants of God. We need Christian leaders who will be prophetic, proclaiming and living the Word of God in a culture that despises it. Only then will we see the world turned upside down!  

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Thoughts on the latest trends, topics, news and culture from a Christian perspective.

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