by Stephen Tall on July 14, 2009
Okay, so there are more important issues of the day to discuss, even in the quietest and slowest of July days – but, somehow, the totemic importance of the three-minute slot at 7.50 am on BBC Radio 4’s The Today Programme never fails to spark a heated debate.
For those of you who don’t tune in, this is the slot dedicated to religious messages: it’s mainly Christian speakers, but representatives from all faiths get their chance.
Radio 4’s controller Mark Damazar has set the cat among the pigeons by speculating there “may well be quite a strong argument for including secularists and humanists”. He said the matter was being actively considered by the BBC Trust.
Almost seven years ago – yes, this debate has been knocking around a long time – Professor Richard Dawkins was given a one-off slot to argue that science gives a better explanation of life than religion. This followed a protest letter to the BBC, drawn up by the British Humanist Association, the National Secular Society and the Rationalist Press Association, and signed by 102 public figures, which stated:
By resolutely retaining the ban, the BBC is discriminating against the non-religious, and thus giving the impression of promoting religion as the one source of ethics.”
In contrast, The Guardian’s Michael White today makes a plea for retaining the exclusively religious Thought for the Day:
Live and let live, I say. Secularists dominate the airwaves for the other 23 hours and 57 minutes of the day, so why not keep three minutes for the faiths? … religion is pretty marginalised in modern Europe.
Over to you, LDV’s readers, to have your say. Here’s the question: do you think Radio 4’s Thought for the Day should be opened up to secularists and humanists?
And here are your options:
As ever, please us the comments thread to put forward the case for your vote…