BBC ponders Thought for the Day: should secularists be allowed?

Thought for the Day may lose its sacred status as the BBC debates whether to allow non-religious contributors to the “God slot”.

The three-minute section of the Today programme on Radio 4, which has been derided by one former editor as a “reservoir of pointlessness and boredom”, would be opened up to humanists and secularists under plans being considered by the BBC Trust, the corporation’s governing body.

Mark Damazer, Controller of Radio 4, said yesterday that he regarded the allowing non-religious perspectives as a “finely balanced argument”. Speaking on Feedback, the station’s forum for listeners’ opinions, he said that the Trust was discussing the future of the slot. “They may well suggest . . . that we should take in a wider range of voices,” he said.

The trust will consider whether the benefits of including secular views outweigh the “distinctiveness that the slot gets from being faith-based”. It agreed to review the section after receiving representations from listeners and secular organisations, and will announce its decision in the autumn.

A Church of England spokesman said: “We would strongly resist moves to add non-religious voices to one of the few protected spots in the schedule where religious views on issues of the day can be expressed openly. Thought for the Day is highly valued by people of all faiths and none.”

Christina Rees, a former contributor and a member of the General Synod, said: “I would be open to people who believe in spirituality because they’re expressing a view that is about more than the material and the physical, but I would not want any speaker who would deny a spiritual dimension.”

Hanne Stinson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association, said: “If it’s right to have a slot within the programme for people to have an ethical perspective on issues, then it should be open to all kinds of people.”

Rabbi Lionel Blue, a long-serving contributor, said that he was undecided. “I think it’s there to give some spiritual help to people during the course of the day. How people interpret it is up to them.”

Another two articles on the same topic: Why the BBC should scrap Thought For The Day (and I’m a believer), Read more:


Here you can listen to ‘Thought for the day’ -

Why do you think they should scrap it?

I think it’s one of those things you have to experience before you can truly appreciate the banality of it all.

I’ve never experienced it, so I was a bit surprised when Damian Thompson, who writes about religion for the UK’s Telegraph came out in favor of simply canceling the feature:

Um, not sure how to break this to Radio 4, but have you heard it recently? I think most of your contributors are ahead of the curve, shall we say.

I’ve got a better idea. Cancel Thought for the Day. Speaking for my own religious tradition, I can assure the BBC that orthodox Catholics would bear the blow with equanimity. Indeed, even as we speak, round-the -clock Masses are being said so that the Lord may wisely guide the axe in Mr Damazer’s hand.

Well, they do have a sense of humor.
I went to their podcast site – apparently Thought for the Day isn’t included in the 'cast of the Today show.
But they did helpfully suggest, You May Also Like: Today in Parliament , Friday Night Comedy :smiley:

I have to admit that I’ve not listened to it for quite some time - it clashes with the very silly ‘Il Ruggito Del Coniglio’ (the roar of the [male] rabbit), Rai2’s travel to work show and, a few years ago, I decided that my years of listening to too much seriousness and people getting cross with one another early in the morning were over. People should save such things until one has digested breakfast.

I really doubt that many people have ‘heard’ ‘Thought For The Day’ - it’s one of those things that improves one’s skills in not listening. They announce that ‘it’s time for Thought For The Day’ and then you’re listening to something else entirely and you realize that 3 minutes have disappeared from your life.

I’ve listened to that a few times as a means of practicing Italian.
I also have enjoyed Damian Thompson’s essays. He seems to be a good observer of Catholic trends in Britain.

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