British audiences are so hostile to Christianity that television producers reportedly purged references to God and religion from hit TV show Downton Abbey. Erasing Christianity from the historic drama reveals just how far Britain has strayed from its religious heritage.
Implicitly denying the formative role of Christianity in English society and government – a trend mirrored in America – bodes ill for the nation’s future. Indeed, stripping any society or government of its grounding in religious truth is a thing to be feared.
The wildly popular BBC series Downton Abbey kicks off its sixth and final season here in the United States on January 3. Millions of American fans are likely to tune in, but many may miss the show’s subtle censorship of religion.
The Daily Mail (UK) reported November 16 “that television executives were worried that any mention of religion might alienate the largely atheist viewing public and so banned any mention of God.” These revelations came following comments by Downton Abbey historical advisor Alastair Bruce who told The Telegraph (UK) on November 15 that the show’s executives ordered producers to “leave religion out of it.”
“I can remember discussions that almost seem comical now,” Bruce recalled.
Bruce described how producers went to extreme lengths to squelch all religious references. This required intentional effort, since religious expression pervaded English culture in 1910s and 1920s.
Perhaps most absurdly, “Abbey” was almost axed from the show’s title because of its monastic connection. But that wasn’t all. The producers also avoided portraying the Crowley family – the central characters of Downton Abbey – in the process of sitting down to meals.
“In essence you hardly ever see a table that isn’t already sat at. We never see the beginning of a luncheon or a dinner, because no one was ever allowed to see a grace being said,” Bruce told The Telegraph.
The dictate from executives even influenced minutia as small as how napkins were fold. Bruce said producers kept him from folding napkins in the shape of a bishop’s miter as tradition dictated. He instead had to employ a simple triangle fold.
Bruce decried the extreme sensitivity to religion in the British TV industry. “Everyone panics when you try to do anything religious on the telly,” he said.
However, it isn’t just British TV that has trouble with portraying religion. Hollywood has its problems, too. When Hollywood does portray religion, it often aggressively casts it in a negative light.
IRD President Mark Tooley wrote in August about Hollywood’s bias against God after watching Night Train to Lisbon with Jeremy Irons. “Why is Hollywood so determined to portray Christianity as a foe of political freedom when actually it is the originator and guarantor of it,” Tooley asked.
Sadly, with the rise of militant secularism in America, overt attacks against Christianity in popular culture have increased. So too have subtle efforts to whitewash Christianity from our history.