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Thursday, 8 October 2009

Thoughts on “Thought for the Day”

It’s the debate that’s exercised religionists, broadcasters and secularists for years: why can’t nonreligious folk have a bash at the BBC’s “Thought for the Day” slot?

For those living outside the UK “TFTD” is a slot in Radio 4’s Today programme. It lasts about two and a half minutes and goes out at around ten to eight each morning.

It’s mostly drivel, full of clichés and platitudes. Indeed, there’s a blog (linked to in our sidebar) called Platitude for the Day, which is well worth a visit.

The argument from secularists is: why are homilies and words of wisdom valid only when from the mouths of religionists? The religionists argue (well, some of them) that it’s a religious slot. So do the broadcasters. The BBC has steadfastly refused to budge on the issue.

Now there’s to be a debate, chaired by one of the Today programme’s more religious presenters, Edward Stourton. It takes place today at the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity, and the motion will be “This House Believes that Humanist speakers should be included in BBC Radio 4’s ‘Thought for the Day’ ”.

For the motion are Andrew Copson of the British Humanist Association and the comedian and writer Ariane Sherine, the brain behind the atheist bus campaign. Against the motion is one of the contributors to “TFTD”, Canon Giles Fraser, and the Rt Rev. Nick Baines, Bishop of Croydon.

Let battle commence.

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