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Concerns About Today

As part of a collective complaint organised by Garvin Orland through Pledgebank I sent this to the BBC.

Sent: 17 January 2009 08:41
To: Today Programme
Subject: Thought for the Day

Dear Sir,

I am disturbed by your inclusion of religious only comment on Thought for the Day.
Humanist, non-religious contributors, seem to be completely excluded from the slot, which gives the impression the BBC believes morality is the exclusive remit of religious people, which is offensive, unrepresentative and untrue.
In a week when the hatred of a people because of their religion is evident in Gaza, surely it now must be clear that all those promoting religious belief (like TFTD) should reconsider whether it is still acceptable to fan the flames of hatred by supporting/promoting faith in the non existent.
Please review your policy to either include non religious contributors or remove the religious slot.
Crispy Sea

This letter and any response will be posted on my blog.

The response

RE: Thought for the Day‏
From: Today Programme (today@bbc.co.uk)
Sent: 25 January 2009 14:35:50
To: crispy sea

Thank you for your email.

I regard this as a genuinely difficult question. There may be a case for widening the pool of contributors on Thought for The Day by having someone with an avowedly non-religious perspective. However on balance the BBC's position is that it is reasonable to sustain the slot with believers. Let me now set out the reasoning.

Thought for the Day is a unique slot in which speakers from a wide range of religious faiths reflect on an issue of the day from their faith perspective. In the midst of the three hour Today programme devoted to overwhelmingly secular concerns - national and international news and features, searching interviews etc - the slot offers a brief, uninterrupted interlude of spiritual reflection. We believe that broadening the brief would detract from the distinctiveness of the slot.

Within Thought for the Day a careful balance is maintained of voices from different Christian denominations and other religions with significant membership in the UK. We are broadcasting to the general Radio 4 audience which regularly engages with the comments and ideas expressed by our contributors from the world's major faiths - whether they are believers or not.

Outside Thought for the Day the BBC's religious output contains both religious and non-religious voices in programmes such as Sunday, Beyond Belief, Moral Maze. In these programmes atheists, humanists and secularists are regularly heard, the religious world is scrutinised, its leaders and proponents are questioned, and the harm done in the name of religion is explored.

Non-religious voices are also heard extensively across the general output in news, current affairs, documentaries, talks, science, history. These programmes approach the world from perspectives which are not religious. As, of course, do the other 2 hours 57 minutes of Today.

Yours sincerely

Mark Damazer

Controller, Radio 4

Which is, I believe, long hand for F**ck You!

But always with eyes wide


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