BBC shows winners of photography contest for osculating faith

UPDATE AND CORRECTION: The contest wasn’t held by the BBC, but by a pro-religion organization called Faith Through A Lens.  I erroneously assumed the BBC held the contest as I missed the link at the very bottom of the post. Rather than hosting the competition, the BBC simply presented the results as heartening news.  I’ve changed the title of this post and a bit of the wording to reflect that. Apologies for the error. Nevertheless, I object to the continuing claim that “faith” (i.e., belief in the absence of convincing evidence) is a virtue, and doubt that the BBC would show pictures like the two at the bottom if there was a “Religion is Dangerous” contest.
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Oy gewalt—we have yet another instance of British media banging on about how wonderful religion is.  The BBC presented results of a contest called “Faith Through a Lens,” which has been running for five years.  Here’s its purpose, given in the latest selection of winning photos:

[T]he competition aims to show the positive role faith plays in everyday life through the medium of photography.

I’m not inspired to show a selection of pictures, though I’ve put the winner below. Granted, religious faith has motivated some good acts, but it’s also motivated many bad ones. (On balance, my view is that religion has been harmful for the world, and is useless in the modern world). However, as reader Oliver noted when sending me this link:

In the interests of balance, I hope they also run a competition to show the negative role it plays…

And indeed, where’s the journalistic balance? This “contest” has an avowedly political purpose, which the BBC bought into.

So here’s the winner of the “We love religion” contest:

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Photo by Merryn Fawsett. BBC caption: Fawssett has chosen to donate her charity prize to The Feast, a charity group based in Birmingham which works to promote community cohesion between Christian and Muslim young people.

And here’s my entry for the counter-contest. Believe me, I could have shown much worse:

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Oliver contributed his own entry, showing malicious and hateful behavior of Christians against Muslims in the Central African Republic:

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You can add your own photo LINKS below, but please, don’t show anything grisly, as it makes some people ill.

 

39 Comments

  1. GBJames
    Posted November 19, 2014 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    I’d offer this. Mug shot of Monsignor William Lynn. Any number of other Catholic priest photos would do equally well.

    http://media.bsmphilly.com/assets/image/2013/12/26/mug-william_lynn_r644x821.jpg?b27df3f4d747f4a0ef941b14429fc3cd4449f478

  2. Diana MacPherson
    Posted November 19, 2014 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    I would’ve shown a picture of a graveyard and say all the deaths because of diseases like aids etc help keep the population down.

    I bet they wouldn’t get it & just would think I was promoting death & was a nihilist. 🙂

  3. Heather Hastie
    Posted November 19, 2014 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Yesterday BBC Hardtalk interviewed Sir Nicholas Winton, now 105, who rescued hundreds of mostly Jewish children from Hitler’s regime up until war broke out in 1939. He’s an atheist. He was asked by Stephen Sackur, “If faith isn’t your motive, what is?”, in a voice that made it clear he couldn’t imagine any other motive.

    • Posted November 19, 2014 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

      I’ve listened to many “Hardtalk” interviews by Stephen Sackur and others. Everybody knows they play the devil’s advocate, and will ask such questions just to elicit answers (they really want to hear). This is the essence of the program. In fact, by asking those difficult and confronting questions, he often gets the best out of the people he interviews.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted November 19, 2014 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

        I agree, and I love the way he asks those hard questions. His attitude when he asked that question seemed to me to be different to the way he usually play’s Devil’s advocate and the other tactics he uses.

  4. Posted November 19, 2014 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    All the photos contributed to this contest make me ill; they celebrate the surrender of perfectly useful and intelligent minds to dogma and faith. I should start a photo contest and call it Psychopathology Though a Lens. I’d ask the contestants to submit images that capture people committing a range of actions from benignly talking to themselves to violent homicidal atrocities requested by the voices in their head. I wonder how the name of my contest would be received, despite the potential results of such proposition being very similar to the one this article describes.

  5. Graham
    Posted November 19, 2014 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    The link is to a BBC NEWS site. The competition is run by an organisation whose link is shown at the bottom of the page. Some kind of ‘interfaith’ outfit, but nothing to do with the BBC. You could question why they consider this ‘news’ but as far as I can see it’s unfair to say it’s a BBC initiative.

    • Posted November 19, 2014 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      That’s fair enough; I didn’t see the little blurb at the bottom. I’ve changed the title and given a link to the site to make this clear. But my point stands; it’s still considered “news”.

  6. Posted November 19, 2014 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    “Fawssett has chosen to donate her charity prize to The Feast, a charity group based in Birmingham which works to promote community cohesion between Christian and Muslim young people.”
    _

    If religion is such a force for good why does a special effort need to be made to bring together believers of different faiths? That need alone underscores the essential problem of faith–its divisiveness. This project is more alchemical than ecumenical. Good luck with transforming the leaden stupidity of faith to the golden tolerance of secular society.

    Also note that The Feast is getting her prize. Hmmmm. I guess they don’t hand out the donation plate during their community-uniting sessions. Just get the kids hooked on the feeling of being special, loved, and needed, and they will willingly give you the cash without being asked.

    I am researching The Feast, and it seems the idiot Tony Blair is somewhat involved, not surprisingly as he is a pusher of this kind of malarkey.

    • Posted November 19, 2014 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      “If religion is such a force for good why does a special effort need to be made to bring together believers of different faiths? That need alone underscores the essential problem of faith–its divisiveness. This project is more alchemical than ecumenical. Good luck with transforming the leaden stupidity of faith to the golden tolerance of secular society.”

      That is an excellent question followed by excellent commentary.

    • Diane G.
      Posted November 19, 2014 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

      Excellent post, Michelle!

  7. Posted November 19, 2014 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Sub

  8. steve oberski
    Posted November 19, 2014 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    So let’s see if I understand this correctly, the winning “faith” photograph is about a group that works to ameliorate the damage done by religious sectarianism.

    While we are at it, what say we have another category where we glorify the pain and suffering that disease has wreaked on humanity because of the concomitant advances in medicine that this has engendered.

    • gluonspring
      Posted November 19, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      +1

  9. Randy Schenck
    Posted November 19, 2014 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    It should be worth noting that any real journalism into the realities of what goes on with religion are far and few between. I do not mean snap shots and a couple of talking heads on the tube. Two recent ones done on the Catholic church have been done — one by Frontline on PBS which you might be able to watch on line. The other by AJ America.

    Both are first rate documentaries you rarely see any more.

    • Posted November 19, 2014 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

      My college roommate was a reporter for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner and was sent to cover a miraculous apparition of the Virgin that folks were lining up to adore, in a bathroom window that particular time.

      A man who lived in the house was returning home, held up a case of beer to the throng and shouted “Budweiser is $4.50-a-case at 7-11! Another miracle in Pacoima!”

      My roommate’s editor nixed that part of his story, because “you can’t make fun of people’s religion, man.”

      One tangential example, but I’ll never forget it: the media praises faith and withholds criticism of it – presumably because non-believers are a minority and we are used to hearing religious messages; believers are the majority and extremely averse to perceived sleights.

      • Diane G.
        Posted November 19, 2014 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

        “…because “you can’t make fun of people’s religion, man.””

        Yeah, those beer drinkers can get pretty nasty.

      • Filippo
        Posted November 19, 2014 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

        ‘My roommate’s editor nixed that part of his story, because “you can’t make fun of people’s religion, man.” ‘
        v
        As opposed to their “views on and opinions about religion,” eh?

  10. Posted November 19, 2014 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    So in short:

    Young women doing lovely things contra their faith traditions = true religion.

    Young men doing horrible things firmly based on their faith traditions = not true religion.

    This word “true” they keep using, I think it does not mean what they think it means …

    • Anna
      Posted November 20, 2014 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

      My thought exactly…

  11. drakodoc
    Posted November 19, 2014 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Googling “westboro baptist church funeral protests” will yield numerous contenders….

  12. Sastra
    Posted November 19, 2014 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    I looked at the photos in the link and they’re a mixed bunch. Some of them don’t seem to have any direct connection to religious faith at all — such as the ring casting a heart in the Bible (symbolizing marriage and grief), the cathedral (symbolizing architecture), and the little girl giving to the beggar (symbolizing charity.) The danger of course is that the religious backdrop is supposed to be interpreted as the source or reason for love/beauty/compassion.

    Seems to me that a couple of the photos could have come from an atheist site arguing against religion. The weirdo on the beach doesn’t really promote a positive image of faith, and that last one — where the unveiled woman is reading to a woman who is heavily veiled — seems to tell a story which isn’t pro-religion. And as Michelle points out at #6, we could even add in the winning photo … with a new caption.

    • Posted November 19, 2014 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      I too was unsure of how some of these photos related to faith.
      I was annoyed with the one of the “50 year old Phil, an old style rocker.”
      His wife had a stroke and was rushed to the hospital where surgeons performed an emergency operation that saved her life.
      I should no longer be struck by the arrogance, but I am. Trained physicians and medical science saved Phil’s wife. How about giving them the credit they deserve???

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted November 19, 2014 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

        This is a subject that annoys me a lot too. All the hard work and training of medical professionals is ignored and answered prayers and some deity are given all the credit.

        • Filippo
          Posted November 19, 2014 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

          As reflected by the comments of at least one Ebola survivor treated in the U.S.

          • Diane G.
            Posted November 19, 2014 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

            Yeah.

            “Sorry all you dead guys–guess you just weren’t as favored as I was.”

  13. wejuli
    Posted November 20, 2014 at 2:16 am | Permalink

    Around Easter time I came across a picture of a crucified cat on tw*tter. I will not post a link to such blasphemy, but what could possibly be worse than that?

  14. Jim Vaughan
    Posted November 20, 2014 at 5:01 am | Permalink

    Just to correct you for the sake of balance:

    The OED (online) definition of “faith” is “belief based on spiritual conviction rather than proof”.

    This is not the same as “belief in the absence of convincing evidence”.

    We all believe many things in the absence of proof, though hopefully not in the absence of evidence.

    • Posted November 20, 2014 at 5:14 am | Permalink

      Just to correct you for the sake of understanding. The religious notion of faith (clearly the notion to which I was referring) given by the OED is this:

      5. Belief in and acceptance of the doctrines of a religion, typically involving belief in a god or gods and in the authenticity of divine revelation. Also (Theol.): the capacity to spiritually apprehend divine truths, or realities beyond the limits of perception or of logical proof, viewed either as a faculty of the human soul, or as the result of divine illumination.

      There are of course many other uses of faith, as in “truth”, but the religious one, which is clearly the one I was using above, is the one given by the OED, and that is faith BEYOND THE LIMITS OR PERCEPTION OR OF LOGICAL PROOF. That means “without evidence”.

      Of course many people use faith in other senses, and I wrote a piece for Slate on the misconception that scientists have a sort of religious like faith, which you can find here.

      • Jim Vaughan
        Posted December 2, 2014 at 10:36 am | Permalink

        “Beyond the limits of perception or logical proof” is NOT the same as “without evidence”!

        There is no logical PROOF of the “Big Bang”, and it is certainly beyond the limits of perception.

        Presumably you don’t believe that means it is “without evidence”??!

        Faith applies to lots of beliefs for which we have evidence, but not proof.

        Distortions of language like conflating “no proof” with “no evidence” may help the cause, but only by distorting clear reasoning.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted November 20, 2014 at 5:42 am | Permalink

      Isn’t proof a synonym for evidence?

  15. Steven Carr
    Posted November 20, 2014 at 5:37 am | Permalink

    I had a look at the pictures the BBC chose to promote how positive faith is.

    In almost every picture, I couldn’t see anything positive.

    I suppose it’s a bit like Where’s Wally – you have to look for ages before you can see it.

    Couldn’t they have helped us out, by putting a little arrow in the picture, pointing to the wonderful thing religion has done?

  16. Posted November 20, 2014 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    A positive side to all this:

    The story just hit my Facebook feed (by the BBC). The comments are 20:1 for slamming religion and the BBC by extension, for promoting the piece in the first place.

    Some of my faves: “So good to see license payers money being spent on promoting fading ideologies of growing irrelevance at the expense of rational thinking and common sense .. sorry, rare sense.”

    “The cathedral would be nice if it wasn’t built upon the bones of non believers by tyrants who used lies and inquisition to force the uneducated masses into their place. But nice picture I guess.”

    “Such grand buildings cannot hide the reality of how much was extracted from ordinary people to blow the trumpets of christianity”

    “Yet again the BBC is promoting religion!”

    “Next competition ‘ Humanism through the Lens’ !!!”

    “I’m starting to wonder if religion has any part to play in modern society. Time to move on and stop ghost hunting I think.”

    “Faith Kills, blind faith kills blindly. Outdated and unsubstantiated mumbo jumbo.”

    “We will always need monuments to man’s stupidity.”

    I really like me some Brits.

    • Diane G.
      Posted November 20, 2014 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

      Those are delicious. 😉

  17. Posted November 22, 2014 at 12:01 am | Permalink

    🐜

  18. Posted December 2, 2014 at 4:01 am | Permalink

    I’m catching up on my reading having been away with poor Internet access. I’ve registered a complaint with the BBC about pro-religious bias in a news web site. They promise a reply within 2 weeks.


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