Group Concerned Over Media's Portrayal of Christians

The Christian Broadcasting Council has voiced concern over the media's portrayal of Christians and pro-life campaigners following recent coverage of their views on the Human Fertilization and Embryology Bill.

CBC Chairman Olave Snelling criticized the way the media had portrayed Christians and pro-life campaigners as people "who do not care about the cure of diseases, research and the plight of unwanted pregnancy" during debate on aspects of the bill.

"Yet Christians and non-Christians alike argue the measures being put forward offer no guarantee of cures to illnesses and there are proven alternatives which will not result in the drastic consequences to human life and the family which will result if this Bill becomes law," she added. "The majority of people, whether they follow any faith or not, place the highest value on human life and the family."

Britain's Parliament voted last week in favor of the creation of animal-human embryos for stem cell research and "savior siblings," who can act as donors to save their sick brothers and sisters. But the vote blocked attempts to lower the upper legal limit – 24 weeks – for abortion and to retain a reference to the need for a father when offering in-vitro fertilization.

Snelling said the group was "disappointed and saddened" by the votes because "the public and MPs were not adequately informed about the issues and the consequences of certain parts of the bill, despite the best efforts of many Christian and pro-life groups who worked tirelessly with MPs."

Snelling also said that the size of the vote indicated MPs were heavily whipped to vote along party lines, despite the Government promising a free vote on the issues of animal-human hybrids, savior siblings, the need for fathers and a reduction in the time limit for legal abortion at this stage of the bill.

The week before the votes, Lady O'Cathain hosted a meeting for the Christian Broadcasting Council joined by a number of speakers, including David Burrowes MP, the Christian Medical Fellowship's Dr. Peter Saunders, and Rebecca Bensted, a barrister with the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship. In the meeting, the speakers agreed that issues of concern over the preciousness of life and the protection of the unborn "had not been substantially raised in the public arena."

Again expressing concerns over the media's portrayal of Christians, Snelling also criticized a recent episode of "Dispatches" broadcast, "In God's Name," which followed the work of Christian lawyer Andrea Minichiello Williams and appeared to imply that Christians are "fundamentalist."

The program "was wrong to pour ridicule and scorn on those who hold to Christian values," she said. "It was a wrong use of investigative journalism, presented as facts to the general public."

Snelling said CBC would continue alongside the church "to uphold and fight for the values that are dear and implicit to the Christian faith."

"We will support the unborn and speak out for the intrinsic value of life itself. We ask our members to continue to pray."