THE first of seven Sunday night programmes explaining and interpreting the major non-Christian religions of the world will be screened by Associated Television on August 21 at 6.55 p.m. The final programme will compare their origins, beliefs and developments with those of Christianity.
A large part of the series, East of Canterbury, was filmed on location in Britain, in the places of worship and homes of local adherents. The first, "From Small Beginnings" will examine the basic questions: "How did religion start?", "What do we mean by religion?" and "Are the religions that we know today a sophisticated development Of the superstitions of primitive man?"
Appearing in this programme, under the chairmanship of John Pett, are Prof. D. J. Wiseman, Professor of Assyriology, School of Oriental and African Studies, London University, and Dr. Geoffrey Parrinder, Reader in Comparative Study of Religion, King's College, London University.
The second, "The Way" deals with moral thought and teaching in China in the first millennium BC and will be an anthology of excerpts from the Book of TAO and the stories of Confucius, read against a changing background of Chinese paintings. This programme, also linked by John Pett, will feature Dr. Katherine Whitaker of the School of Oriental and A f r i c a n Studies, who, being Chinese, will show why these teachings had such appeal for the people of her country.
The following four will deal with Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Islam. Each programme will present a member of the equivalent of the priesthood and one or more lay people who will explain their beliefs and how their religions guide their everyday lives. The various forms of worship— often against very English backgrounds—will be seen.
The series, which will be fully networked, is produced for ATV by Michael Jeans who says: "One is struck, despite major basic differences, by the fact that man seems to be searching for the same thing, and that the teachings of whichever religion he may follow on this path appears to have marked similarities."