I  wondered why it is that John Bell from “The Iona Community” is such a frequent contributor to the “Thought for the Day” programme. So I toodled over to their web site and read this….

“The Iona Community is a dispersed Christian ecumenical community working for peace and social justice, rebuilding of community and the renewal of worship.”

Mmm, and then…

Members’ involvement varies according to the area they live in and their individual circumstances, but it is clear that across the community there is an unwavering commitment to peace and justice, reflected in many types of activity, from quiet peacemaking in our neighbourhoods and families, to political lobbying and nonviolent opposition to weapons of mass destruction.

I can see the appeal for the entirely neutral BBC, can’t you?

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39 Responses to THE IONA COMMUNITY

  1. chrisH says:

    I recall Bell getting his Bible so far off beam during some TOTD pice a few months back, that I knew that Biblical scholarship would comprise no part of these Celtic knuts as they passed the hookah round after calligraphy for the EuroBeeb Charter of Loveliness had been done.
    “Imagine there`s no knowledge”…not so hard to do now is it Mr Lennon?


  2. Jez Clarke says:

    Sounds delightful, almost a parody. In the interests of balance, they should invite Hamish McQaradawi on to give us some love?

    “Ye gawkin at me maw’s paps, infidel? Allah achbar the noo, I’ll gie ye Zionist pig-monkey goons a skelp.”


  3. Cassandra King says:

    Yes according to this BBC approved nutter God hates Canada, or rather the current democratically elected government of Canada.

    As long as you hold reliable left wing prejudices and hatreds then the BBC will invite you on air again and again. Just another left wing fruitcake treated as the last word in wisdom.


    • johnnythefish says:

      I’ve heard this lot many times on TFTD and just thought of them as slightly leftie eccentric religious old hippies. However the links you’ve given us here are a revelation (no pun intended). In theory, our ‘impartial’ BBC shouldn’t be touching these people with a bargepole as they are peddling nothing less than lies to further one of their their causes. On second thoughts, why let the truth get in the way of a good story that fuels the anti-Israel hate machine? The Iona mission statement dovetails nicely with the BBC world view – and this morning they were on berating the government over the reduction of tax relief on charitable donations (seconds before the ‘off’ button got on the wrong end of a clunking fist). And I always thought TFTD was meant to be non-political.


    • Span Ows says:

      Those links are full of “BBC apologises” so, as johnnythefish says, the BBC – if it were non partisan…stop laughing at the back! – would steer well clear of Bell’s ilk


    • Sue says:

      Hello Bio,
      Verily I say unto thee it seems like only yesterday when I posted this. (June 23rd 2011)


  4. Rueful Red says:

    John Bell used to do the late night God-slot in Scotland when it still existed. He’s an identikit trendy cleric, right down to the beard and the wooden cross round his neck.

    One of the funniest places to visit in Scotland is the bookshop on Iona, full of achingly right-on hymn books. He’s written quite a few of them. Now where’s me guitar?


  5. BG says:

    I wondered why it is that David Vance from the TUV is such a frequent contributor to the “Hearts & Minds” programme. So I toodled over to his web site and read this….

    ‘BBC presenters are snuffing themselves at a fair old rate of knots these days. They need to get some more rewarding past-times rather than auto-asphyxiation and columbian marching powder.’

    I can see the appeal for the entirely neutral BBC, can’t you?

    How surprising though that a Christian should express a committment to peace and justice or nonviolent opposition to weapons of mass destruction.


    • Nibor says:

      Depends upon the selective “peace and justice ” they agitate against and who they want to not have weapons of mass destruction .


    • David Vance says:


      Great comment but just a few problems;

      1. I am not in the TUV.
      2. I do not contribute to Hearts and Minds.

      Well done.


    • chrisH says:

      I hesitate to use the phrase “devils advocate”, but I think you`ve got it wrong BG.
      No-one objects to peace ,justice and the like…but John Bells selective path will lead us all into a mulikulti mush of correct postures, just right for Islam, the EU/UN and the whole “One World” dreamings of the BBC and Guardian.
      In short, the peace of the graveyard for those who can see what is going on with Bell and the like…justice as a moveable feast that both condemns and condones Breivik and his “mental capacity”…and all this whilst Bell muses from Iona strumming Lennon songs…the BBCs dream cleric.
      That he is so fawned over and favoured by the BBC-whereas a Peter Mullen is not-tells me who is on the side of the angels-not the Hell variety either!


    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      Ah, but DV isn’t presented as an innocent, neutral contributor, is he? How surprising that you missed the difference.


  6. Abandon Ship! says:

    The problem with John Bell isn’t that he peddles liberation theology (which he does), but that his overexposure on the BBC bears no relation to the rather small and insignificant influence of this theology in mainstream British Christianity. Bell inhabits an edge of the Christian spectrum in Britain, where you are also likely to find the Quakers, who long ago passed from promoting Christian theology to promoting the aims of the Stop the War coalition. The BBC just don’t understand that Bell represents a small fringe of UK Christianity, or perhaps they know this but still promote it because it fits in with the wet liberal outlook of the BBC itself. Most Christians in the UK are actually socially conservative and economically slightly liberal, and are likely to vote for any of the main parties. You just don’t seem to hear that voice being articulated by the BBC.


    • John Anderson says:

      You have hit the nail on the head. Why the hell should this tendentious and boring creep get so much airtime, endless TFTD slots – EXCEPT that his loony views are a close match to BBC groupthink


      • Pah says:

        TFTD gives the BBC a free slot for the promotion of left-wing thought. If it were a political slot (like they, at one time, wanted) then they would have to give the Tories a slot every now and then. This way they can push left-wing ideas whilst excusing them as ‘religeous’ …


        • Jim Dandy says:

          Jonathan Sachs, Ann Atkins?


          • John Anderson says:

            Sachs is a figure of substance. But he usually talks morality – not politics.

            Bell is an insignificant loon – given about as many TFTD slots as Sachs.


  7. Abandon Ship! says:

    And whilst on religion, I want to register my concern about the Sunday programme on Radio 4, usually hosted by Ed Stourton. As far as I am aware it is meant to be a programme focussed on religious issues, which I would expect to mainly concern Christianity, but it is rapidly becoming a general talking shop about the politics of muslim countries and muslim communities. However, given that in Islam religion and politics are one, perhaps this is to be expected from the BBC.


  8. Jim Dandy says:

    As a fervent non-Christian I do have some sympathy with this view. If religion is to be shoved into ones ears each morning it should be the red in tooth and claw stuff, not this wishy washy we all worship the same god nonsense. the BBC’s desire is clearly to have non-offensive pap on tftd, but this whitewashes the true nature of religion.



    • Merlin says:

      For once I agree with you Jim.


    • alan says:

      Someone spiked your cocoa Jim?

      That’s almost quite aggressive from you.

      That’s what reading ‘right wing’ blogs will do.

      Turns your mind and the BBC’s stomach.


    • Louis Robinson says:

      Is there such a person as a non-fervent non-Christian? Most non-Christians I know who identify themselves as such as rabid anti-Christians.
      By the way, this chap Bell seems like a caricature of vicars called Dave. I bet he even plays a NYLON string guitar like Joan Baez. Kumbaya, my Lord, kumbaya. Where’s the bucket?


      • Demon says:

        Well I’m different then. I’m a non-Christian, aka Atheist, but I am happy for anybody to follow any religion they like as long as they don’t try to force it on me (or anyone else for that matter). And that includes Dawkins and his aggressive atheism. I strongly condemn anyone using their religion as an excuse to commit violence on other people, or to twist their religion’s message for extremist political views. That includes Bell and Rowan Williams, all those who plant bombs in the name of Allah, the extremist Jews who want to destroy the beautiful mosques on Temple Mount etc.

        I am aware that those mosques were built on Judaism’s Holiest site, so I sympathise with Jews who see them as an affront to their faith. However, the reality is that they are there and I think the Israeli government has got the balance about right at the moment. I would love to see the day when Jews will be allowed to also pray in those same buildings (pipe dreams I realise).


        • Louis Robinson says:

          Demon, I welcome your response. It’s not by your theology that you should be judged but by your values, your character and your actions. Though I am a Christian myself, I wince at the self-righteous people who begin each sentence with “Speaking as a Christian” – that goes for “speaking as a Marxist” too. (My favorite hate is “speaking as a journalist”)
          I’m reminded of a Sidney Carter song (Mr Carter was a committed Lefty whose politics I hated but was a fine singer/songwriter):
          “Your holy hearsay is not evidence
          Give me the good news in the present tense.
          What happened 1900 years ago
          May not have happened how am I to know?
          The living truth is what I long to see
          I cannot lean upon what used to be
          So pack your Bibles up and show me how
          The Christ you talk about is living now.”


    • eadwulf says:

      “the BBC’s desire is clearly to have non-offensive pap on tftd”

      Sorry, but I would suggest the opposite is the case. TFTD is mostly a political “thought” not a religious one. If it were religious the “thought” would probably be a quotation from the bible not a rant on the “injustices of Israel”
      This “rant” was shown to be false – yet the “radical cleric” is still invited back. For more of his “non-offensive pap “? I think not.


  9. BG says:

    I always thought there was some irony in Mr V appearing regularly in an unchallenged spot on a BBC Northern Irish politics programme to discuss whatever topic he wanted, while apparently same organisation opposes everything he stands for, and while he is a vocal critic of that same organisation, which he claims is biased.

    I’s not as if there is any evidence of significant support for his views in Northern Ireland, in fact his election results show quite the opposite. It’s not as if where the BBC to stop him inviting him to appear, there’d be many viewers who would notice, or that there’d be an outcry.

    And in all those appearances he’s never had any objection to his treatment, or evidence of bias while being in the belly of the beast. I just wonder how that can be explained.

    Perhaps he can tell us how much he’s been paid for his appearances from our licence fee.
    I think we have a right to know.


    • GotItAboutRight says:

      I’m assuming you also take the view that a black person who hasn’t pesonally been the victim of police racism is disqualified from accusing the police of institutional racism.

      And of course we’re not entitled to know what anyone on screen gets paid by the BBC – what planet are you on?


    • Span Ows says:

      Stop saying ‘us’ and ‘we’ like you are more than a single voice.

      I see no irony at all in what you write: I believe the BBC is institutionally biased but I use the BBC website regularly.

      Anyway, your reply is off topic and should be on the Open thread if anywhere.


    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      Unchallenged? Have you ever heard any of his BBC appearances?


  10. eadwulf says:

    Apparently – the number of complaints received about a BBC programme (or person) is secret.


    • Guest Who says:

      ‘“How many complaints the BBC received about John Bell’s ‘Thought for the Day’ broadcast on the
      Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme 18 January 2012”

      The information you have requested is excluded from the Act because it is held for the purposes
      of ‘journalism, art or literature.’

      So, basically, when it comes to ‘questions being asked’, only a select group get to ask them, and certainly do not have to answer any. I can see the danger to BBC journalists and editors should the public find out how many folk think what they get up to is utter pants.
      ‘The BBC has a long tradition of making information available and accessible. It seeks to be open and
      accountable and already provides the public with a great deal of information about its activities. ‘

      But remember, it’s all about aims…
      ‘The BBC’s aim is to enrich people’s lives with great programmes and services that inform, educate and
      entertain. ‘

      Thing is, aims are all very well, but if the guys paid, and paid well, by others to operate a range, provide the bows and arrows of truth, train and hire the archers… then refuse to share any information on the accuracy of their efforts, how is anyone expected to know… trust that they ever hit the mark.
      And if not, what are we being compelled to pay for… uniquely?


  11. Ian says:

    Bell’s Iona community has links with climate change and Palestine support groups – and with a slightly worrying Northern Ireland outfit. No surprise.