Rev Joel Edwards responds to Dispatches episode: 'In God's Name'

Dear Mr Duncan,

I watched this week's (May 19) Channel 4 Dispatches programme, In God's Name, with a strong sense of disappointment.

Dispatches has a reputation for being selective and sensationalist, so perhaps I shouldn't have been shocked. But as someone at the heart of the Christian community, I simply didn't recognise the claims it made - echoed in the Sunday Telegraph - about a growing band of Christian fundamentalists trying to impose their will on society.

Stephen Green, a key example given of this fundamentalist movement, is an extremist. The vast majority of Christians who watched last night would, like me, have recoiled in horror at some of the statements he made.

The kind of fundamentalism shown by Stephen is not growing in the UK. Unfortunately, the oxygen of publicity provided by the media has exaggerated his influence. What is increasing is a movement of evangelicals, which currently numbers around two million.

This group of people is hugely diverse, with a spectrum of political and theological leanings. Some, including Andrea Minichiello Williams, are active political citizens who lobby passionately on issues they believe are important for the public good. Christians are active on issues of poverty, debt, freedom of speech, the environment and more.

This is how a healthy democracy operates, and while Andrea may have been naïve and controversial in Dispatches, her actions were a legitimate and transparent part of the political process.

Dispatches is a hugely influential programme, so next time it tries to tackle modern Christianity, I would invite its producers to take an honest look at the full story rather than predicting a burgeoning trend on the actions of the eccentric fringe.

Rev Joel Edwards
General Director, Evangelical Alliance