January 11, 2016

Complaint to the BBC

The BBC rather consistently uses the term “Anglican Church” when what is meant is the Anglican Communion. This has bothered me for a long time. Today, Anglican Ink published a transcript of a BBC Radio 4 interview with Justin Welby from this morning. The interviewer used the term “Anglican Church,” and I decided it was time to lodge a formal complaint. I submitted the note below on the BBC Web site. (It was a rather tedious process, by the way.) I have transcribed my complaint verbatim, except that I have substituted italics for all caps. (The BBC site apparently does not understand HTML tags.) I am awaiting a reply.

The BBC consistently uses the term “Anglican Church” to refer (presumably) to the Anglican Communion. I encountered this usage recently on “World News” and in the December 11 BBC Radio 4 interview of Justin Welby.

BBC logo
In fact, there is no “Anglican Church.” The Anglican Communion, on the other hand, is a Fellowship of autonomous churches of varying polity and using diverse liturgies. After this week, of course, it may not even be that.

In any case, use of the term “Anglican Church” when what is meant is “Anglican Communion” is incorrect, misleading, and prejudicial. There are Anglicans within the Communion who would like there to be a worldwide Anglican church espousing consistent, reactionary doctrine beyond the influence of modern society. I doubt that the BBC means to promote that view of the Communion. I would hope that the BBC would strive for greater precision and objectivity.

The term “Anglican Church” might be appropriate when referring to a particular national or regional church, such as the Church of England. Even in that context, however, the usage can be misleading.

I hope that the BBC will drop the use of “Anglican Church” and use “Anglican Communion” when the fellowship of national and regional Anglican churches is intended.

Update, 1/26/2016. I received a reply from the BBC. You can read it here.

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