Now your lifestyle will never be understood because it will never be seen
Jane Sancho's Beyond Entertainment? report was published quietly in November 2001 without any apparent consultation with the New Age community - and it shows. Only now are it's deleterious effects on freedom of belief being felt. The report is a complete travesty of the human rights of New Agers. It breaches the British Human Rights Act on virtually every page. It was originated by the creeping lobby of fundies in religious broadcasting (involved on both ITV and BBC) who have been creating space for their world view for the past decade , as represented by The Central Religious Advisory Committee, a group of non-mandated agents from the mainstream religions who have set themselves up as keepers of the nation's religious morality. The report has been pursued and brought into reality by Xists who have no understanding of their responsibilities to other beliefs. Pompously subtitled 'Research into the acceptability of alternative beliefs, psychic and occult phenomena on television ' it is in fact a completely unnecessary head-on attack on all New Age and alternative spiritualities. The research is flawed and prejudiced yet has apparently been accepted by the Broadcasting Standards Commission and the Independent Television Commission, as proof of the need to further censor and restrict the portrayal of alternative beliefs on TV because they are 'harmful'. It is a charter for fundamentalist agitation: but the report is thoroughly distorted and completely unacceptable to a pluralist society.
The fact that TV has historically portrayed people who believe in unorthodox religions as 'dotty', 'bizarre', or 'evil' in the minds of viewers does not make these misperceptions any the more true, neither is that kind of prejudice acceptable as legitimate research evidence, yet this anecdotal prejudice is exactly what Beyond Entertainment? uses for its statistics! It is a breach of the British Human Rights Act (BHRA) to deny or generally disparage the genuineness of another person's religion. The people who compiled this research , which is from the outset antagonistic towards the New Age, would not DARE to approach the orthodoxies in the same way, yet even whilst Sancho's report was ongoing there was extreme first-hand evidence of the harmfulness of fundamentalist Islam in the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York. Nobody in the research team appears to have seen the hypocrisy in accusing believers in New Age spiritualities of harming others (when there is little if any real evidence to support that), whilst completely ignoring the self-evident harm that extremists of the orthodox religions can cause.
The point we are making is this: SAFF statistics show a far higher incidence of harm from orthodox religions than from New Age beliefs and this has recently been scientifically confirmed by extensive independent research.. The premise of Sancho's research was based on prejudice right from the off. Either NO religions/beliefs should have been singled out for criticism in this report, or ALL religions should have been included within its parameters. It is testimony to the indelicate nature of the way this research was approached that four out of every six people chosen for their test groups were from 'mainstream' religions and the rest were atheists or/and others. So out of every group of six at least five would probably be intolerant to new age activities! Ignoring for a minute the outright cheek manifested by someone who chooses people from one religion to value and rate the beliefs of competing religions, we ask why Sancho did not include at least one New Ager to balance out the opinions of each of the groups?
The distorted nature of the statistics in this report and its blatant prejudice is easily seen by the percentage results of the questionnaire on the appropriateness of adverts in various media where 20% of the sample group preferred to ban advertisements for psychics in magazines devoted to psychism! This clearly shows that not only are one fifth of the sample intolerant to any form of alternative spirituality but that they also wish to deny others the ability to access it! Pure bigotry. This major slice of intolerance is repeated throughout the results. It shows that the compilers of the report have made little if any efforts to ensure a fair and proper profile of their sample group. Any sample which was being asked to opine on other people's beliefs should have been screened for sectarian bias in relation to the percentages of minority beliefs within the population. The fact that it wasn't speaks volumes about the distorted results this research has obtained.
The researchers appear to have confused the issue of whether 'psychic practices' cause harm, with the debate over whether they cause offence. After Beyond Entertainment? the BSC and ITC now maintain that 'psychic practices' are perceived as causing harm and should be censored to suit the sensitivities of a certain section of viewers, but this is not informed research, it is superstitious ignorance, as can be seen from the constant references in Sancho's report to Ouija Boards. The research team's questionnaire elevates Ouija Boards (just one of many hundreds of psychic practices which could have been chosen) to the rank of a belief, when in fact it is simply a device. This is because the frame of reference for the report was, unbelievably, made up from word association tests given to group participants! Sample groups were asked to name 'occult' things and then the total was aggregated and those at the top of the list were included in the questionnaire. All this proves is that just about everyone has heard about Ouija Boards, it's prevalence in the report has no actual relevance at all.
After first trying to establish that the research is a rational investigation about the viewer's 'perception' of harm rather than an attempt to establish whether harm actually occurs, the authors then set out to persuade the reader to accept the reverse; that the opinions of sample groups about harm through New Age involvement are a REAL instead of hypothetical measure of viewer's tolerance. The report states:
' Occult practices, namely Satanism, Black Magic, Ouija and Voodoo were .... viewed as fringe,and as having negative intent. Regardless of whether people believed in such phenomena or not, the intention behind occult practices was felt to be about exerting influence, rather than fostering personal development or enlightenment. They were considered risky and therefore dangerous. '
So, at a time when a genuine belief in alternative spiritual things has never been greater in the population, when individuals are turning to alternative religions and philosophies by their thousands, The Broadcasting Standards Commission and the ITC have responded to this by bringing in censorship to outlaw the representation of psychic beliefs and activities in the British Media! Hundreds of thousands of Britons, with genuine alternative beliefs are being morally ostracised by a cartel of Xists who are in control of the British media and who are ruling in their abject ignorance, that anything which is not orthodox is somehow harmful to adults and children - even though hundreds of thousands of adults and children follow New Age beliefs, as is their right, without harm.
Beyond Entertainment? is nothing more than another classic example of the percolation throughout society of the Satanic Ritual Abuse Myth whose scaremongering effects have continued to influence the subconscious minds of fossilized thinkers like them over the past decade. It should go in the bin where it belongs.
Then please click here to go to our Feedback Forum - You can leave a message anonymously or just read what others have to say.
Click here to return to the SAFF front page