Christian Persecution

BBC 'Kill the Christians' – at last, thank God, but please don't leave it there


As regular readers of His Grace’s blog will be fully aware, the plight of Christians around the world is a subject that is discussed frequently on these pages. I sometimes wonder if such repetition will turn people away in a ‘read that; been there before’ approach, but as long as such intense suffering continues, given the nature of this site’s religio-political focus, there is an overwhelming duty to speak up and attempt to lay the facts bare.

The Bible is very clear that Christianity is not a private faith. When anyone makes the decision to follow Jesus, they become part of the biggest family on earth. During the Church of England’s baptism liturgy, the congregation welcomes in the newly-baptised with these words:

  There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism. one Spirit we are all baptised into one body.
All: We welcome you into the fellowship of faith;
we are children of the same heavenly Father;
we welcome you.

My Christian family is not just my local church, but the global one. My attitude towards Christians in Pakistan or China should be no different from those I know in my local congregation. Anyone who has had even a smattering of religious education should know that Jesus calls us to love our neighbours, and the story of the Good Samaritan plainly clarifies that we should make no distinctions as to who we consider our neighbour to be. However, the New Testament writers also exhort Christians to be especially vigilant regarding the welfare of their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. In Jesus’ parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Mt 25: 31-46), it is not difficult to argue that when the king declares, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me,’ he is referring specifically to God’s people, i.e., Christians, and not to humanity as a whole.

This is why the reports that have poured in over the last year, telling of the brutal and horrific treatment of Christian communities in the Middle East, have been so disturbing. In actual fact, the drawn-out eradication of Christians from the region has been going on for a good deal longer, but with ISIS’s inhuman treatment of anyone they choose to hate, this has been brought sharply into focus. Through the work of Christian charities such as Open Doors and Christian Solidarity Worldwide and, in particular, Canon Andrew White, the ‘Vicar of Baghdad’, this persecution has not gone unnoticed well beyond our Sunday church congregations. The secular media has increasingly taken up the cause of Christians suffering most frequently at the hands of intolerant Islam. A growing number of parliamentarians are also voicing their concerns.

One of the exceptions, though, has been the BBC. In its coverage of world affairs and the Middle East, the persecution of Christians, while not entirely ignored, proportionally receives little attention. When ISIS drove the Yazidis out of their homes and into the mountains of Iraq last year, it made the BBC’s headlines. It rightly deserved attention, but the Christians who were experiencing exactly the same treatment (and were also much larger in number) were mentioned far less. If this is still a Christian country, as David Cameron often likes to remind us, then it becomes even more irksome that the BBC, for whatever reason, devotes such little attention to (for example) the fact that the Christian population in Iraq alone has collapsed to a tiny percentage of the millions who lived there prior to the fall of Saddam Hussein. This is one of the biggest stories to have come out of the troubles in the Middle East, and yet the BBC has barely mentioned it in all of its coverage of the multiple conflicts.

So, when Jane Corbin’s Kill the Christians aired on BBC2 this week, it was a welcome surprise. Such a programme covering the situation for Christians in the Middle East is long overdue, but at least the BBC has finally begun to catch up with the rest of us. It was never going to be a perfect programme: squeezing a whistle-stop tour of Christian communities in Syria, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon and Palestine into an hour could scarcely give all situations the level of attention each deserves. When the wait has been so long, expectations inevitably increase. And, on the whole, Jane Corbin did a thorough job of telling the story of a few individuals and the dislocation of their communities as they have fled the deadly violence of the ISIS.

Ed West has written a sound review of the programme for the Catholic Herald, but I want to highlight a number of factors that stood out as I watched it. The first was the complete contrast between the Christians interviewed and the actions of their aggressors. Footage of both Muslims and Christians, just moments before their execution at the hands of black-clad ISIS soldiers, was flashed up at regular intervals. This was greatly disturbing, but still failed to convey the scale of their sickening disregard for the lives of others. It was perhaps best summed up by 13-year-old Nardine. She had escaped the invasion of her village in northern Iraq, but was fully aware that if they had caught her she would now be either dead or imprisoned as a sex slave. The look on her face as she considered the Yazidi girls who had suffered that fate was haunting.

Whilst ISIS were depicted sowing fear and terror, Christians were seen feeding, sheltering and caring for the suffering and displaced irrespective of their beliefs – for Muslims as much as their fellow Christians. Even with the little that they had, they were doing their utmost for others. One Muslim bluntly stated that without the survival of Christianity in the Middle East, moderate Islam is also doomed. In countries with diverse and complex religions and histories, Christianity has provided a level of stability and cohesion. As this fades away, so does the chance of long-term peace between the different strands of Islam.

And little hope remains. Where Christians have fled persecution in their droves in the face of the utterly intolerant Saudi-Salafist strain of Islam and the increased sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shias, it is impossible to see them returning in any great number, if at all. If they are able to find better homes elsewhere, what would bring them back? The only place in the Middle East where the Christian population is secure and growing is Israel, and yet, for some strange reason, Jane Corbin told us the complete opposite. Strangely, too, she blamed Israel for the exodus of Christians from Bethlehem and the Palestinian territories. What the programme failed to mention is that since Hamas came to power, there has been a marked increase in incitement and violence by Muslims against Christians throughout Palestine. This subtle anti-Israeli rhetoric was uncalled for, and an unnecessary blot on an otherwise well-researched documentary. It would seem to be that this Twitter comment from journalist Nelson Jones has some weight:

Nelson Jones Twitter comment

Maybe it was? If so, thank you, Jane Corbin and the BBC, for at long last sharing the stories of just a handful of Christians in the Middle East. It was better than might have been expected, despite one grating flaw. But there is so much more to say. You could, for example, devote a whole programme to the experiences of Andrew White in Baghdad. Archbishop Justin Welby has visited Iraq and has plenty of informed opinion which could also be reported. Please don’t leave it here, thinking you’ve fulfilled your Christian-persecution quota. You have only just begun to scratch the surface, and the world needs to hear much more. Politically-correct sensibilities and the fear of causing offence should never be allowed to hide the truth of this genocidal ‘cleansing’.

As a final thought, it was quite remarkable to observe that none of the Christians who were interviewed had questioned their faith: their resilience was stoic, and at no time did they express doubt in God. We live in a country where Christianity is often derided and discarded; where God is disparagingly referred to as a magical fairy or ‘sky pixie’. But, for these Christians who have so much to lose simply by staying true to their faith, they find in God not empty indifference, but strength and unending hope. The wisdom of Nardine, despite her young age, was profound:

The Christian religion is about love and peace. I feel very sad because the Devil has taken over the Islamic State. I will pray to God to enlighten their minds. Whatever happens, we will not give up our religion. We will not abandon Christianity, never.

This World – Kill the Christians is available to watch on BBC iPlayer until 13 May.

  • CliveM

    Thank you for telling us about this. I missed it, I will have to catch up on I Player.

  • Politically__Incorrect

    Thank you Gillan for bringing this programme to our attention. I admit I didn’t see it. I have ceased to watch the BBC long ago because it’s clear politico-social agenda and bias has generally depressed the quality of it’s reporting.

    I shall be making another donation to OpenDoors as my miniscule effort to try and help a few of these people.

    Raising awareness of these issues is a slow process, but hopefully the issue will be picked up by others who may have influence. In the meantime, I regret that many are going to suffer grievous injustice and die in the ME. This is appalling, and I pray for as much protection as possible for these inncoent victims. The region has become like hell itself, thanks to a vile Islamic doctrine, indirectly nurtured through Western foreign policy. These are h”vulnerable minorites” that the West thought would bring liberal democracy to the region. Instead, theyare going around murdering, raping, enslaving, and spreading their hate. Politicians like Cameron and Hague have been their useful fools. That’s something worth remembering during an election campaign.

  • Inspector General

    One area we can definitely do without media coverage is the removal of ISIS by the military. However, don’t be surprised if some bleeding heart BBC journalist, Islamic of course, gets in among these killers and sends us a documentary of their ‘innocent’ women and children being blown to pieces by the aircraft. Should think it’s only a matter of time…

    • CliveM

      But didn’t you know, it’s all the Security Services and MI5’s fault.

      These poor massacring, raping, mass murderering torturers can’t help themselves.

      • Politically__Incorrect

        Indeed. Its all because we weren’t nice enough to them

    • Politically__Incorrect

      It is quite possible Inspector. The “girls” that absconded from British schools to go to Syria and take part in the jihadi breeding programme have been treated by the media as “missing persons”, dearly missed by their loving definitely-don’t-support-ISIS parents who want them back more than anything (unless it’s allah’s will for them to serve the blood-stained executioners in their beds). The desire of the media to pander to allah is mind-boggling. As you say, it’s just a matter of time.

      • Inspector General

        They’re lost to us, P_I. And so are the children they will have. To be brought up on evil and the cult of death – the next generation of ISIS in the making. All must perish in the field of action, we cannot afford to miss any. God understands what we must do…

  • Dreadnaught

    I thought I’d never see the day when the BBC would actually get to grips with the genocide that is the essential foundation of Islam.
    Full bloody marks for this programme. I hope its repeated as much the usual viewing fare that seems to predominate the schdules.

    We found out about the HOLOCAUST after the war – this time, its taking place BEORE the war, yet no one in power anywhere seems to give a rats arse about it. Today’s Turkey still peddles the lie that the Armenian Genocide of Christians even happened yet the West and the Rest stays mute and the press unmoved. History is repeating itself and the press focuses on Millibland’s cartoon visage struggling to master the skills of feeding himself!

    Where are the rent-a-mob moderate muslims blocking the streets of the Capital with their NOT IN MY NAME placards and screaming megaphones. Where the throngs of Christians doing the same. Bet your boots the only ones likely to turn out will be the reviled English Defense League.

  • Dominic Stockford

    I got back late that evening, and, tired, gave up after 10 minutes in the middle that just went on about buildings. I am glad that the direction of the whole programme wasn’t apparently so obsessed by the creations of men, and looked at men, the creations of God.

  • Pubcrawler

    If anyone’s interested in the extent to which Corbin misrepresents the situation in Israel and Bethlehem, BBC Watch has the numbers

    • The Explorer

      Thanks for the link.

  • David

    This is an excellent article by Gillian Scott, so thank you. It is so uplifting for a writer to look beyond the denominational divisions and point to the deeper things that bind all true followers of Christ through their baptism and faith.

    I have long ago given up watching the BBC as I expect nothing but an anti-British, anti-Christian, leftist world view with no attempt at balance or journalistic objectivity.

    Therefore this program is a refreshing surprise, despite its anti-Israel slur. When I was there the Christians I met, from a variety of denominations, seemed to be fine, except in Palestinian controlled Bethlehem which was a very different and sad picture indeed.

    It is becoming so difficult to cut past the hugely biased media, the vast majority of which has bought into the standard left-liberal anti-faith, anti-Christianity rhetoric , in order to display or research anything approaching truth.

    This website continues to do an excellent job in defending free speech.

  • The Explorer

    I do believe that after 9/11, the Madrid bombings, the shoe bomber, the would-be liquid-explosives bombers, the would-be condom bomber, the London bombing, the 2007 attack on Glasgow airport, Bali, Mumbai, the Nairobi Arcade killings, the Beslan school killings, the Nigerian abductions, Drummer Rigby , Ilan Halimi and other anti-Jewish atrocities in France, the ISIS beheadings, Jihadi John, Charlie Hebdo etc sections of Western opinion are coming to the reluctant conclusion that there are violent elements within the devotees of the Religion of Peace that cannot wholly be accounted for by the existence of Israel.

    • Inspector General

      Thinking as a BBC staff journalist, if it was suggested that this man be sent by them to cover the Middle East on the ground, he too would come out with similar, and PDQ at that…

    • Royinsouthwest

      You missed out the shootings in Copenhagen, not long after those in Paris. I admit, however, that you would probably be using your keyboard all night if you tried to make the list comprehensive.

      • The Explorer

        I did say ‘etc’ to cover such contingencies. Add your own favourites. I remember reading a staggering statistic of 17 000 acts of Islamic violence between two given dates. Unfortunately, I can’t now recall where I read it, or what the two dates were. The horrible thing is that, globally, it’s not implausible.

        • Pubcrawler

          A number of sites keep a ‘ramadan death toll’ tally, maybe it was one of those.

  • Shadrach Fire

    I watched the programme and was both appalled by the content and amazed that it was being broadcast by the BBC. This was clearly not seen by enough people as there seemed little media coverage. (or maybe they were anxious not to provoke the UK Muslims)

    Very well written by Gillan. I thought it was His grace at first.

    I have also been watching the series by Diarmaid MacCulloch on Sex in the Church.

    The BBC has devoted three 1 hour episodes to this. The first episode seemed intent on destroying the Churches view on Sex. The second was rather boring by comparison and dealt with the swings of fashion between Chastity in the priesthood and the liberal marriage arrangements from the Protestants. It also dealt with the cover ups that occurred in the Middle Ages in Rome with boys schools an then the appalling mess with the Anabaptist’s and their licentious marriage arrangements.

    I look forward to the third in the series to see which way Diarmaid swings his conclusion.

    • IrishNeanderthal

      So far I’ve only seen the first one, but MacC seems to be so concerned to follow his own personal agenda, that he is talking about “the Christian god” like the freethinkers etc that often present programmes. He counts himself an Anglican, but in places he is going on more like one of the Monty Python lot, in the sneery-poo way he refers to even a hint of a controlled attitude towards sex.

      He may be on the way to becoming the BBC’s favourite historian of Christianity, but he is so concerned about the matter of sexual orientation that he is acting like the SNP, prepared to wreck everything as long as he gets his own way.

    • The Explorer

      Just the chap to do a series on ‘Sex in Islam’, especially focusing on Islam’s attitude to homosexuality.

  • Merchantman

    I often watch BBC World Service which in short is rarely in my name these days. It invites its audience to be ‘the world’ or something of that nature. All very well but its a very left of centre- Islamo oriented world. Apart from our Lords injunction- ‘to be in the world but not of it’; the world service is becoming increasingly hostile/irrelevant to the needs of the indigenous British. Come the cutting of the foreign aid hand outs I vote for the pruning of the World Service as a priority.

    • The Explorer

      I can see the point of a BBC World Service when Britain ran a third of the world. Now it doesn’t; although it left its language behind. I would have thought that those audiences to which Britain gave independence might have preferred their own broadcasting services, but maybe they want the unbiased reporting for which the BBC has always had such an enviable reputation. (Abroad, indeed, it still has it.)

      • Old Nick

        I regularly hear the World Service as relayed to the Middle West of the United States. It has deteriorated dramatically over the past 5 years or so. The decay began with the introduction of tiresome jazzy music to break up news bulletins (Lillibulero and Imperial Echoes survived well into the present century. As one might have predicted this has been followed by the news being punctuated by facetious chatty observations from the people who are meant to be reading it – often expressing their approval or disapproval of events, from the Guardianista point of view which you might expect. They seriously need to return to some appearance of sobriety and balance, and stop aping the ghastly ‘Today’ programme.

      • B flat

        And the World Service was assimilated (in every sense) to the domestic BBC by the “conservative”(hah!) Cameron, who thereby destroyed a very valuable and rich display of real “British values.” Until that merger, it really did seem to me to preserve the role of the BBC before the world that the original charter, interpreted and realised by Lord Reith gave us.

  • len

    IS intends to destroy western civilisation and to replace it with what can only be described as hell on earth with amputations, beheading, ‘honour’ killing,hanging and suchlike barbaric behaviour.

    Western Judeo / Christian foundations which underpinned our society have been so undermined that IS and other Islamic terrorist groups has sensed that this is their time to overrun what they perceive as weak corrupt Governments with no moral backbone.
    Christians living within Muslim countries are now paying the price with their lives for the lack of any moral authority of western secular governments and the apathy and indecision of western governments to make any move to protect these Christians and others under the oppressive rule of this IS death cult .

    • Merchantman

      I wholeheartedly agree with your comments about the lack of backbone of western leadership. Worth remembering however that Gladstone hung Gordon out to dry in Khartoum in similar but less dangerous circumstances ( for Gladstone).
      Pity the Christians who died with Gordon and one wonders what became of their womenfolk.

      • Old Nick

        In that particular instance the GOM (Grand Old Man) became known as the MOG (Murderer of Gordon)

  • Royinsouthwest

    More examples of persecution of Christians by Muslims could be found quite easily. For example the case of those Christians thrown overboard my Muslims on a boat taking illegal immigrants to Italy. This atrocity has been played down by the media although we can be certain that it would have attracted much more attention and condemnation if it had been self-styled Christians who threw Muslims overboard.

    One news bulletin that I saw on the BBC (unfortunately I don’t remember which one) said that there had been a dispute between Christians and Muslims on the boat, the implication that it was six of one and half-a-dozen of the other. The Guardian in its headline includes the word “alleged.” Would that word be in the headline if it had been Gays that were thrown overboard, I wonder?

    Italian police arrest migrants alleged to have thrown Christians overboard

    Of course, the present persecution in the Middle East is not new. It is 100 years since the start of the Armenian genocide and still the Turks will not admit their guilt.

    Genocide of the Christians

    “The blood-soaked depravity exceeded even today’s atrocities by Islamic State – now, 100 years on Turkey faces global disgust at its refusal to admit butchering over a MILLION Armenians”

    Of course nobody alive in Turkey today is responsible for what happened to the Armenians but the present-day leaders of Turkey, far from admitting the responsibility of the Ottoman Empire for the atrocities, are acting as if the Turks are the victims. The Turkish prime minister has accused the European Parliament of racism for passing a resolution calling on the Turkish government to acknowledge the slaughter of the Armenians as genocide.

    Furthermore there have been suggestions that the Hagia Sophia, the greatest cathedral of the Byzantine Empire, that became a mosque after the fall of Constantinople, could be converted into a mosque again in retaliation for the Pope’s remarks on the Armenian genocide. It has been a museum since Ataturk created the secular Turkish republic.


    Do we really want Turkey in the European Union?

    • CliveM


  • bmudmai

    I would complain to the BBC about the anti-israel slur but I have no trust in their complaint service anymore. I previously complained about a program called Generation Sex: the secrets of South America and it was hosted by some awful liberal woman, the kind who thinks abortion is a normal everyday thing and that foetuses are a disposable product. Anyway, she spent the program blaming the Catholic Church for all the problems in South America even when it wasn’t relevant. So I decided to write in a complaint and the reply I got back from the other end was: ‘I don’t agree with you’. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t matter if they personally agree with me or not. They would probably say they don’t see a problem with the anti-israel slur as they don’t agree with you.

  • Martin


    The BBC has long had an anti-Christian stance, it was why there was a campaign for a Christian broadcaster years ago, the now sadly muted & distracted Premier Radio. Indeed, if you compare the treatment of what I will call ‘traditional’ Christians, as opposed to biblical Christians, you will see that they have been treated much better.

    I think the probable reason for the BBC’s attitude is that it original pushed the ‘Arab Spring’ and can’t really bear to give it up. OK, so they don’t like the idea of journalists or aid workers being beheaded, but after all journalists are special people, to be protected at all cost.

    Of course, there have been a great many Muslims killed as well, but you won’t see that recorded on the BBC, since it goes against their stance of blaming all the woes of the Middle East on Israel.

    • IanCad

      So right Martin! Good post!

  • IanCad

    Thank you so much for your post and the link Gillan.
    A bad internet connection added frustration to the despair of watching this cleansing.
    Our idiot politicians are directly to blame for this.
    If you could have salted your post with a small dose of Homosexism the number of comments would have increased apace.

  • Athanasius

    The treatment of Christians at the hands of Islam is shameful, but is it entirely necessary to see it merely as an opportunity to support your favourite charity? The behaviour of Israelis towards their Christian subjects only looks good next to ISIS; seen on isolation, it would be recognized for the race hate it is. It is unfortunate that the worldview of Protestantism, even in its “mainstream” varieties, is still so badly infected, however unconsciously or unwittingly, with dispensationalism. There is nothing special about the state of Israel.

    • Chris Cooke

      Utter nonsense. Bethlehem had a 80% Christian population under Israeli rule. Under the rule of the Palestinian Authority, in just twenty years (1995-2015), this population has dwindled to 7%. That decline is entirely down to the relative lack of safety felt there under PA rule. I assume from your comments you have neither visited Bethlehem nor Israel.

  • The blood of the martyrs is never in vain. God is preparing a people for himself in the Middle East.
    This chap is by no means unique.

  • Mike Stallard

    Licence Fee?
    With the BBC go the end of monarchy, the end of religion (of all kinds, including Islam – did you watch the way that the little fellow who went to live in Indonesia on a fisherman’s hut in the sea spoke the word?) and a general assumption that what matters is Equality – for us – and what the Islington Set say.
    I am actually getting quite resigned to the awfulness of the current BBC.