Archive for December 7th, 2007


Is Christianity in retreat?


Welcome to new Daily Email recruits Jon in Portland, Angela in New York, Patrick in Georgia and Samson in London. I hope you settle in quickly. Ones to watch on the blog are Viktor, Mark, Carlos and ZK. Keep them happy and you’ll be doing better than me.

This is our last day in our temporary office before we move downstairs into the swanky new one they’ve been putting together. I’ll stick a photo up on the blog next week to see if you’re impressed. I know they are two computer screens per desk, so it’s difficult to think that you won’t be.

One subject for you today….


Guests so far include: Cristina Odone, former editor of the Catholic Herald in the UK, Professor David Domke, author of “God Willing? Political Fundamentalism in the White House”, Terry Waite, Anglican Bishop Cyril Okoracha in Nigeria.

Why are we asking? Here are four stories for you to consider from this week:


Mitt Romney wants to be next US President. He’s a Mormon. This is part of what he said yesterday: ‘(Some) seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgement of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America – the religion of secularism. They are wrong.’

We’re hoping to have a Romney supporter to explain why his faith is vital to his candidacy. That he’s calculated he can say this and win (when Tony Blair said he couldn’t fully express his faith for fear of being labelled a ‘nutter’), suggests Christianity retains huge sway in the States.


In the UK, a group of Christian evangelicals this week lost their bid to sue the head of the BBC over its broadcast of Jerry Springer the opera. In his judgement, the judge said broadcasters in the UK can’t face prosecution for blasphemy. Some says the ruling highlights the lack of influence that Christianity has. Certainly church attendances have plummeted over the past 50 years.


We’re going to hear the story of one Iraqi doctor in Kirkuk who tells us why thousands of Christians are fleeing his country, and how his faith affects his life every day.


This website is suggesting the surge in the popularity and influence of evangelical Christians has caused to government to amend legislation on gay rights this week.

Is this a religion whose popularity and influence is in decline around the world?


The 19th December is the big day for the BBC World Service. There are lots of programmes scheduled to mark this, and three of them are falling in WHYS’ time slot. So on Tuesday and Thursday next week, and then Tuesday the week after, rather than us you’ll hear three special debates from New York, Cairo and Delhi. They have already been recorded so you won’t be able to contribute live, but you’re more than welcome to respond to them on the blog.

There’s also going to be a special two hour edition of WHYS on 19th – but more of that next week.

A weekend on the M1 (one of the UK’s busiest and least interesting motorways) beckons for me. Hopefully yours won’t involve as much time staring at the back of the car in front.

Speak to you later.


Brown’s boycott

As Ros mentioned yesterday, we’ve been looking at asking if Christianity is a religion in retreat. That’s moving ahead but there are a few other things around today which might¬†spark your interest.¬†

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has arrived in Portugal for an EU-Africa summit, but British Prime Minister Gordon Brown won’t be there.

For his boycott, Mr Brown has been given a ticking off by the president of the European Commission. Jose Manuel Barroso says leaders sometimes have to meet people they disapprove of.

“If you are an international leader then you are going to have to be prepared to meet some people your mother would not like you to meet. That is what we have to do from time to time” – Jose Manuel Barroso

So who do you think is right? Should Mr Brown hold his nose and sttend the talks, or should the European Union refuse to hold talks with African countries if Mr Mugabe attends?

News out of the US: The CIA has destroyed at least two video tapes showing the interrogation of terror suspects. The agency says they no longer had any intelligence value and the identity of the agents had to be protected. How open should the questioning of terrorist suspects be?

And how authoritative is Wikipedia? Founder Jimmy Wales says students should use the site (but then he would), adding that students should be able to cite the online encyclopaedia in their work. Seems to me they should use the footnotes that are meant to source the facts in each entry to check themselves, but how reliable is information on the web?

Something else that caught my eye was Kiefer Sutherland going to jail for Christmas. I’m not sure what to say about it – at first glance it seems like he’s taking the rap for committing a crime like a stand-up citizen, but is he just getting his 48 days inside (which will include his 41st birthday and New Year’s Eve) out of the way while the Hollywood writers strike means there’s no filming going on?

And something sporting for the weekend: should former Chelsea and Porto manager Jose Mourinho be the next England coach? Apparently England want him, which is fair enough. And sacked coach Steve McClaren says the next manager will do better than he did. Steve, that will surprise no one.