The BBC has provoked a backlash by asking whether it was “appropriate” for an MP to wear her ashes at a House of Commons select committee hearing.

A post on the BBC Politics Facebook page asked: “Was it appropriate for this MP to go to work with a cross on her head?”

The Rt Reverend Pete Broadbent, the acting Anglican Bishop of London, tweeted:

“Is it appropriate for people working for @bbcpolitics to be so ignorant about the Christian faith that has shaped this country?”

Ann Widdecombe told the Mail on Sunday that the post reflected a “dismissive” attitude towards Christianity.

Carol Monaghan, a convert to Catholicism and MP for Glasgow North West, told the BBC:“When I came into committee, one of the members asked me about it. I said ‘It’s Ash Wednesday,’ and they said ‘But this is going to be broadcast.’

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