NEW POLL: should Radio 4’s Thought for the Day be opened up to secularists and humanists?

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:

  • Yes, open it up
  • No, keep it for religion
  • Just scrap Thought for the Day
  • As ever, please us the comments thread to put forward the case for your vote…