Radio 4’s Today team, far from celebrating the 60th anniversary of Thought for the Day, have greeted it with criticism, seeing it as ‘deeply boring’. They resent having to ‘broadcast nearly three minutes of uninterrupted religion, given that rather more than half our population have no religion at all’ (Telegraph, October 31, 2017).
As ‘God slot’ contributor Tim Stanley observes, they can hardly complain about boring contributions since they themselves shape the input; now Today editor Sarah Sands would like to include humanists, because ‘religion was ‘robust enough to have challengers’.
Humanists have coveted the ‘God slot’ for years, and attack any Christian involvement in public life, but since the 2010 Equality Act enshrines ‘lack of belief’ as a protected characteristic alongside religious belief, in theory humanists could argue for the equal right to preach in churches. Thought for the Day would offer them a daily pulpit, but that might make humanism look inhuman, so perhaps the BBC hope to make the ‘God slot’ so boring that they can justify getting rid of it. A humanist on Thought for the Day would certainly do the trick, and no doubt they would not be deterred by yet another pyrrhic victory.