Why can't we mention the G-word?

Why can't we mention the G-word?


norman lebrecht

August 21, 2009

Several colleagues in British media have expressed surprise at Manuela Hoelterhoff’s direct questions about God in the Holocaust and my equally direct answers in our conversation on Bloomberg Muse.

We were talking about my new novel, The Game of Opposites, and Manuela wanted to know if I agreed with an opinion voiced by one of the characters. So we set about the issue in a few concise lines.

‘Couldn’t happen here,’ said a senior newspaper editor. ‘God only gets dealt with in the God slots’ – the statutory Saturday space for clergymen – ‘or from a Richard Dawkins perspective.’

‘So true,’ said a BBC boss. ‘God is off the agenda here, except for atheists and politicians.’

But why is that? Why can media discuss every human organ and intimacy in clinical detail, but not the issues of faith and doubt that trouble intelligent and sensitive readers? Why does the BBC appoint self-proclaimed agnostics to be head of religion? Why is serious talk about the sorrow and the pity blanked out on British media?



  • Damen Rae says:

    Not discussing God in the media is an unspoken rule that protects a religion from too much scrutiny by people outside that religion.
    “Serious talk” about God doesn’t happen in the media because facts are serious but faith is silly. It’s funny when people argue over details of their unprovable religious fantasies. Not so funny when they kill each other over them.

  • Dennis says:

    Mr. Rae stated: “Not discussing God in the media is an unspoken rule that protects a religion from too much scrutiny by people outside that religion.” – Only if that religion happens to be anything other than Christianity! The media treat Christianity with a level of hostility they would never allow for Islam. The European and British media in particular treat Islam with kid gloves, not allowing critics of Islam anywhere near as large a forum as they give to anti-Christian polemicists like Dawkins, et al. (Indeed, in many cases they provide no such forum at all, with critics of Islam being accused of “racism” and “hate” throughout Europe through the imposition of politically correct speech codes by multiculturalist ideologues).
    Furthermore to claim that “serious talk” about God and religion doesn’t occur because faith is inherently “silly,” is itself a profoundly silly and intellectually impoverished argument. There is a lack of “serious talk” in the mainstream media about God and religion because of the largely left-wing and secularist biases of the people who are in control of the major media organs, particularly in Europe, where the major cultural and political institutions seem to go out of their way to denigrate and turn their backs on the religious and cultural heritage that built and sustains Western Culture.
    There is also simply the fact that members of the media are often not especially brilliant or well-educated (particularly the most visible figures on TV and radio, where looks and personality count for more than intelligence and depth) and are unable to engage in truly “serious talk” of any depth about a great many subjects, including religion and God.

  • Mike says:

    Maybe when senior officials in various religions can talk like “intelligent and sensitive” people. There are too many British bishops, archbishops, imams and others running around releasing press releases about “London gays cause floods in Carlisle” to be taken at all seriously.
    As for God being off the agenda, then that is patently wrong when all the major newspapers have godbothering columnists making1 medieval pronouncements from their print pulpits.
    Finally, when did discussion of “sorrow and pity” become the exclusive domain of the religious. They may deserve pity for all the sorrow they’ve caused in the name of religion, but really ….