January 24, 2016

BBC: We Admit We’re Wrong, but So Are Others, So It’s OK

Regular readers will recall that I complained to the BBC about the use of the term “Anglican Church” where “Anglican Communion” is meant. (See “Complaint to the BBC.”) Since I submitted my complaint, I received two messages acknowledging my comment and telling me to be patient—the BBC considers all complaints thoughtfully.

Today I received the ultimate reply to my January 11 note to the BBC, which I reproduce here verbatim:
Dear Mr Deimel

Reference CAS-3655633-CH5BS0

Thanks for getting in touch regarding the use of the term ‘Anglican Church’.

We understand you feel this is incorrect usage and the BBC should refer to the ‘Anglican Communion’ instead.

We appreciate that the Anglican Communion is made up of a group of churches with links with the Archbishop of Canterbury however the term ‘Anglican Church’ is sometimes used and understood with the same meaning.

We appreciate your feedback regarding the correct usage. All complaints are sent to senior management and our programme makers every morning and we included your points in this overnight report. These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the BBC and ensure your complaint is seen by the right people quickly. This helps inform their decisions about current and future reporting.

Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.

Kind regards

David Glenday

BBC Complaints


NB This is sent from an outgoing account only which is not monitored. You cannot reply to this email address but if necessary please contact us via our webform quoting any case number we provided.
So, the BBC admits, at the very least, that its use of “Anglican Church” is imprecise. Its defense is that others also use this formulation.

Indeed, it is true that others use “Anglican Church” to refer to the Anglican Communion. In fact, Archbishops of Canterbury—certainly the incumbent and his predecessor—have used it and, I suspect, actually know better.

Use of “Anglican Church” to mean “Anglican Communion” is not just a personal preference or dialectical variation. Instead, it represents deliberate political manipulation through misleading language intended to encourage uniformity of belief throughout the Communion.

Referring to the Anglican Communion as a church subtly suggests that the component national and regional churches, along with a few extra-provincial dioceses, should act as a unified whole, sharing common doctrine and dogma. This is the sort of mistaken thinking that motivated the primates recently to demand that The Episcopal Church be punished.

But the Anglican Communion is not a church. It has been a fellowship of churches, and, at least for the moment, is not a worldwide church.

The BBC excuses its behavior as being no different from that of others. No doubt, its “senior management” feels comfortable following the lead of Justin Welby. It’s too bad that the BBC uses this excuse to eschew objectivity in favor of spewing propaganda.

No doubt, the BBC, like many English leaders, just cannot let the Empire go.


  1. Hi Lionel,

    I know this has been a topic of concern for you for some time. Perhaps because we are all still simmering in the vocabulary of yesterday's reading in the Epistle from First Corinthians I wonder if a productive consequence of the recent Primates' Meeting might be an invitation for a deeper dive into the ecclesiological assumptions that shape our sense of identity and community. What exactly does it mean to be a "member" of a church, or of "the Church," and what does that membership then tell us about our needs and duties as we stand in relationship to one another? What are the Covenantal implications of our incorporation into an Israel renewed at the Cross? Without some careful exploration of this I not sure just how to make much theological sense of a discussion about what we mean when we talk about "the Anglican Church" or " the Anglican Churches."

    1. Bruce,

      I agree that such a discussion could be productive. It should have been something the primates did. They came with their assumptions, however, and seemed to have no interest in anything except punishing our church. I don’t get the impression that any of the primates came away with greater insight into what the Communion is or might be than they came with.

  2. Matthew Olver had a helpful word the other day--which perhaps in alignment with yesterday's Epistle inspired me to comment on your post.



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