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TV Journalist Martin Bashir is set to replace Caroline Wyatt as the religious affairs correspondent for the BBC. Katie Stock examines what role his Christian faith may play in his new role?
Bashir became a household name in 1995 when he interviewed a doe-eyed Diana, Princess of Wales and she famously referenced the fact there were "three of us" in her marriage to Prince Charles. His notoriety was then cemented by a documentary in which he interviewed eccentric pop singer Michael Jackson over the course of eight months.
In recent years Bashir has been based in the USA as TV journalist for ABC and MSNBC. In 2011 he interviewed author and church pastor Rob Bell about his book Love Wins which had caused controversy among evangelicals for its apparent support of universalism. Bell ended up being at the sharp end of Bashir’s pointed style of questioning which went viral in a YouTube video.
Bashir himself may have had a personal investment in the interview as he is generally regarded as holding an evangelical Christian faith. He has attended Tim Keller’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City while living there and in a 2011 interview with Paul Edwards, describes himself as a "committed Christian" What bearing then, if any, will his personal faith have as he commences in this new role?
For Bashir, journalism is his vocation with a search for the truth being at the very centre. For some this would conflict with their personal faith but he is of the view that "the church and Christians should be at the centre of that discussion [about truth]"
Journalism is his vocation with a search for the truth being at the very centre
At one level then Bashir seems to see it as his responsibility as a Christian to hold those around him to account. But, when was asked about his faith background Bashir answered,"it is irrelevant". He later expanded on his answer: "the essence of the journalistic process is to find and tell the truth. It doesn’t matter what one’s personal disposition is."
His search for truth has predominantly taken him outside of the church as for over two decades he has interviewed public figures both in the UK and USA. As he now turns his attention to religion in the UK, what kind of religious affairs correspondent will he be?
If his track record is anything to go by, he will be a formidable one who identifies the most pertinent questions and won’t let up until he gets an answer. At twelve years old Bashir decided that "any theological position which couldn’t be challenged is not worthy of following."
Forty one years on, his commitment to the search for truth and the accountability of religious leaders continues.
Unbelievable? presenter Justin Brierley blogs on all things theology, apologetics and ethics.