'God slot' may lose God

By staff writers
10 Jan 2006

'God slot' may lose God

-10/01/06

In a move that will be welcomed by some Christians as well as humanists and secularists, the BBC's director general has said that Thought for the Day, one of the bastions of religious broadcasting, could be open to secular contributors in the future.

Mark Thompson, himself a Christian, said he would not rule out the possibility of using non-religious contributors.

The three-minute slot, a religious reflection on topical events which regularly features Ekklesia associate Giles Fraser, has been a daily part of the BBC's Today programme on Radio 4 for 36 years.

Groups such as the National Secular Society have campaigned however to end the religious requirement of the slot, and has threatened the BBC with legal action.

They have been joined by Christians who believe that secularism and humanism are also based on 'faith'.

Some Christians also believe that religion should emerge from its 'safe' ghetto and enter more into mainstream broadcasting.

The secularists point out that as a quarter of Britons have no religious belief, Thought for the Day does not adequately reflect society.

In an interview with the Tablet Catholic newspaper, Mr Thompson, 47, promised to improve the creativity of religious broadcasting. But when asked about Thought for the Day, he said: "You can make a case for opening it up to people with other heartfelt belief systems. I would not close my mind to it."

Last year, in a shot across the bows of those who feel that religion is being marginalized in broadcasting, Thompson told the Churches Media Conference that Christians should stop trying to defend their privileged positions in narrow religious ëslotsí on radio and TV and enter more into mainstream broadcasting.

A BBC spokesman said there were no immediate plans to change the content.

However in an editorial in today's Daily Telegraph, the newspaper which has in the past frequently mounted arguments in defence of the privileges of Christianity, attacked the move.

Thought for the Day began in 1970 and had its first non-Christian contributor, a Muslim, in 1992. It now has regular contributors from all major faiths and has featured the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Chief Rabbi.

In a move that will be welcomed by some Christians as well as humanists and secularists, the BBC's director general has said that Thought for the Day, one of the bastions of religious broadcasting, could be open to secular contributors in the future.

Mark Thompson, himself a Christian, said he would not rule out the possibility of using non-religious contributors.

The three-minute slot, a religious reflection on topical events which regularly features Ekklesia associate Giles Fraser, has been a daily part of the BBC's Today programme on Radio 4 for 36 years.

Groups such as the National Secular Society have campaigned however to end the religious requirement of the slot, and has threatened the BBC with legal action.

They have been joined by Christians who believe that secularism and humanism are also based on 'faith'.

Some Christians also believe that religion should emerge from its 'safe' ghetto and enter more into mainstream broadcasting.

The secularists point out that as a quarter of Britons have no religious belief, Thought for the Day does not adequately reflect society.

In an interview with the Tablet Catholic newspaper, Mr Thompson, 47, promised to improve the creativity of religious broadcasting. But when asked about Thought for the Day, he said: "You can make a case for opening it up to people with other heartfelt belief systems. I would not close my mind to it."

Last year, in a shot across the bows of those who feel that religion is being marginalized in broadcasting, Thompson told the Churches Media Conference that Christians should stop trying to defend their privileged positions in narrow religious ëslots' on radio and TV and enter more into mainstream broadcasting.

A BBC spokesman said there were no immediate plans to change the content.

However in an editorial in today's Daily Telegraph, the newspaper which has in the past frequently mounted arguments in defence of the privileges of Christianity, attacked the move.

Thought for the Day began in 1970 and had its first non-Christian contributor, a Muslim, in 1992. It now has regular contributors from all major faiths and has featured the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Chief Rabbi.

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