did anybody watch this programme on channel 4 broadcast 19th may ?
In God's Name
As the Human Fertilisation and Embryo Bill continues its way through Parliament, David Modell follows some of the leading members of Christian pressure groups as they attempt to win converts and convince MPs to base laws on Biblical beliefs.
Hard-line Christian activists are now mobilising believers in an attempt to make an impact on society nationally. Followers believe abortion and homosexuality should be illegal, there should be no sex before marriage and that the law of blasphemy should be strictly enforced.
They say the Bible is the definitive word of God and is literally true and are intolerant of other faiths. The film follows well funded and politically active Christian groups and shows them emerging as a significant voice in British politics.
They think society should be built on their beliefs. They claim non-believers are damned. But these radical Christian groups are not in America – they are here and are aiming to change the laws of our land, discovers the Bafta-winning film-maker David Modell
It's Tuesday morning and the infants' classroom in Carmel School is filled with the sound of children's voices reciting a rhyme. "The Lord has not dealt with us according to our sins nor punished us according to our iniquities." These are not easy words to remember if you're six.
Melony, the teacher, goes on to explain: "Before Jesus came, people who disobeyed God got turned to a pillar of salt. So thank God for Jesus because we can say 'Jesus, I'm sorry' and we don't have to fear getting turned into a pillar of salt, which really happened in the Old Testament."
One little girl has to do a science test. A classroom assistant kneels next to her, takes her hand and says: "We pray, Father, that you'll help her check all her spellings. In Jesus's name, Amen."
The test is multiple choice. Question five is: "God made the world in [BLANK] days." The options are "five, six or seven". The six-year-old carefully writes "six". The right answer.
This scene would be surprising enough if the school were in America's Bible Belt, but the voices around me are English, and we're in Bristol.
Carmel Christian School is my latest stop on a journey through British Christian fundamentalism, for a Channel 4 Dispatches film. With the nation focused on the perceived threat from radical Islam, I am interested to know if a less apparent form of radical religious belief is gaining ground. It is.
The uncompromising creationist curriculum taught in Carmel has been imported from the US. It is called Accelerated Christian Education; the motto of the Florida-based company who produce it is: "Reaching the world for Christ, one child at a time."
With 50 small schools in the UK teaching this curriculum, a total of more than 2,000 children are being "reached for Christ". Yet these schools are not operating outside the education system. Carmel is a government-endorsed faith school, complete with an Ofsted report that describes the teaching as "satisfactory".
According to the head teacher, David Owens, it's all thanks to a Labour prime minister. "Tony Blair opened the door in the debate on faith schools," he explains. "So it's time for people like us to strike while the iron is hot."
The school is part of the Carmel Christian Centre, one of a growing number of locally based hard-line Christian organisations. The aim of these groups is to spread a fundamentalist form of Christianity. The followers believe that the Bible is literally true and not open to any degree of interpretation. They are the only "true" Christians because they have confessed their sins before Jesus and become "born again". Those who have not converted are damned.
While mainstream Christian worship has been in steady decline, evangelical Christianity has been increasing. Not all evangelical worshippers hold such hard-line beliefs, but the fundamentalists will almost certainly describe themselves as evangelical.
Accurate figures quantifying the size of this movement are hard to come by. Carmel says they are a Pentecostal Church, one of the most prominent and fundamentalist strands of evangelical Christianity. According to the Evangelical Alliance, more than two million people in the UK now claim to be Pentecostal worshippers.
The ambitions of Britain's hard-line Christians go far beyond the borders of their local communities. Like most fundamentalist movements, the ultimate aim is a society built on their rigid belief system.
I was invited to Carmel by someone I met on a demonstration against the Sexual Orientation Rights [gay rights] legislation outside Parliament at the beginning of last year. The protest had been organised by the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship (LCF) – or, more specifically, by Andrea Williams, its public policy director.
Ms Williams believes any law that goes against her strict biblical beliefs must be fought. Her latest target is the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Bill, which reaches a critical stage in its passage through Parliament next week. Ms Williams tells me why she is campaigning against it. "I believe there's a spiritual battle going on," she explains. "These laws reject God, and any rejection of God is the work of the enemy, Satan."
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