“The United Kingdom is a spiritual shadow of its former self,” writes Cal Thomas in The Washington Times. The steep downward trend of faith’s retreat from public life in Britain is no secret, but could the pendulum swing the other way? Thomas continues:

The BBC recently announced its intension to expand religion coverage on the theory that more information about faith might stem growing anti-Semitism and create understanding of various beliefs. Currently only one religion program, “Songs of Praise” is regularly shown on BBC.

The BBC’s announcement comes with curious timing, considering secularism’s increasing cultural dominance in the UK – a fact not left unnoticed by David Aaronovitch at the London Times: “Given that for the first time since the Black Death a majority of Britons are not actually religious, this new emphasis seems perverse.”

The Guardian had a similar (albeit less negative) take: “The increased focus on religion is set to raise eyebrows, given more than half the population say they have no religion whatsoever, according to recent figures from the British Social Attitudes survey.”

But the real story here is what led the BBC to their decision in the first place: an extensive review found that people of faith felt “often absent, poorly presented or satirised.” In a culture where religious literacy among journalists is hard to come by, it seems the network decided to fight that current and, more importantly, acknowledge that some faiths promote values that transform society for the better. Director general of the BBC, Tony Hall, explains: “[The plans] will ensure the BBC better reflects the UK, the world and the role that religion plays in everyday life. They will also raise understanding of the impact religion has on decisions made at home and abroad.”

So is the BBC rediscovering faith and its integral role in modern life? Will the network accurately distinguish between different religions’ effects on culture? Time will tell. At the very least, it’s a start. Cal Thomas, for his part, remains hopeful:

It turns out faith — at least faith that does not embrace violence to achieve its goals — promotes positive cultural values better than politicians do… If the BBC is rediscovering faith, that might possibly lead to a renewed interest in the subject among the public and who knows, another revival? God knows the UK (and America) could use one.