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BBC criticised over extensive coverage of Halloween

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The BBC has been criticised for devoting extensive coverage to a bizarre pagan festival to mark Halloween and accused of deliberate down-playing of Christianity.

The corporation’s 24-hour rolling news television network focussed on events in a riverside meadow where coven witches gathered to celebrate the pagan festival of Samhain.

A clip of the event also accompanied a lengthy posting on the website by Robert Pigott, BBC News religious affairs correspondent, calling Halloween “the country’s newest religion”.

The BBC’s decision to allocate so much air-time to the minority event in Weymouth, Dorset, was questioned at a time of a 16 per cent cut in the corporation’s budget.

When asked about the extent of coverage given to the pagan rituals, a BBC spokesperson said: “We don’t have anything to say on this.”

A few days before the pagan festival police officers were given official advice on how to handle witchcraft-related incidents in dealing with pagans and witches as part of a 300-page diversity handbook.

The instructions suggested that police officers avoid touching a witch's “Book of Shadows”, which contains their spells, and avoid handling their ceremonial dagger.

The online handbook also advised officers not to jump to conclusions if they encounter a situation where a blindfolded, naked person is tied by their hands – they could merely have stumbled upon a pagan ritual, where such activities are normal practice.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, director of Christian Concern and the Christian Legal Centre, said:

“It’s not always healthy to represent such beliefs as paganism as mainstream, particularly when our national faith is so often pushed to the edges.

“It’s vital that our national broadcaster remembers our great Christian heritage and all the precepts that come from it that are good for the nation.  I would like to see this more clearly recognised.”


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