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Where is Channel 4's 'Anne Atkins on gays' programme?

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I wrote recently about the BBC producing a short film for The One Show on paedophile priests. They chose as presenter the comic Sean Hughes. This struck me as gross, given that Hughes was (in theory if not in practice) a funny man, an avowed atheist and had no knowledge of the contemporary Catholic Church. The incident proved to me that anti-Catholic bias in broadcasting is alive and well.

But it is more than anti-Catholic, it is anti-faith. Channel 4 has just commissioned two programmes, on the Pope and on faith schools. Guess who they’ve got to present them? Peter Tatchell (on Benedict XVI) and Richard Dawkins (on faith schools). How appropriate, huh? Tatchell, the gay rights campaigner, getting his hooks into his favourite hate figure. Who cares that in doing so he will be offending the more than four million Catholics in this country? They’re the minority that dare not make a fuss (unlike their Muslim brethren), and so forfeit all right to being taken seriously.

On to Dawkins, who gets to “explore” the issue of faith in education. Richard Dawkins is responsible for peddling a lot of lies about faith, but that is his prerogative. Read as fiction, his writings have verve and polemical passion. When it came to faith schools, though, his misrepresentation of one school, in particular, made headlines and almost caused it to close down.

In 2002 Dawkins claimed publicly that the Emmanuel Community Technical College in Gateshead taught creationism in its biology classes. Ofsted inspected the school, and found no such thing. In 2006 the school’s head of science, Steven Layfield, was discovered to be a member of Truth in Science, a group that questions evolution. The school immediately issued a statement saying that it did not share Layfield’s views, and Layfield resigned from Truth in Science. When, as part of pamphlet for the for Policy Studies on faith schools, I went to visit the school (which, by the way, Dawkins never bothered to do) the first image to greet me was a portrait of Charles Darwin. Hardly the sign of a backward-looking establishment refuting the great man’s work.

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