Select Committee on BBC Charter Review Written Evidence

Letter from J Machling

  I write to express my wish to have much less religious broadcasting on the BBC. I was confirmed in the Church of England, and went to church regularly until I was a young adult and realised that religion meant nothing to me, and never had. My children, now grown up, went to a Church of England school, the only school in the village where we lived at the time, and they too remained untouched by teachings about the supernatural. It is not that I have had no involvement with religion, it is simply that I do not believe in it.

I wonder why it still has such a hold in what is at heart a secular society such as the UK. When I listen to what I consider to be baseless opinions being put out on such slots as Thought for the Day I wonder at the BBC for continuing to broadcast them. To me "faiths" seem at worst divisive and at best private ideas which should be kept that way. I don't see why religions should command air-time, except perhaps as a cultural interest, and though I try to listen to and understand the ideas of religious people, I often switch off when the topic is "faith" and ideas are broadcast as if they were facts.

Could not more air-time be given to those who, without religious faith of any type, still try to work out the best way to live without doing too much damage to their fellow inhabitants of this planet? I believe that less harm is done by non-religious morality (which can at least be argued over without screams of "blasphemy!") than by the faiths which use their followers to see the world through their particular theological lenses. Why promulgate divisive religious views, whose appeals to a numinous, indemonstrable deity, or deities, seem to sit oddly within a rational service such as the BBC?

However, having heard various clerics squabbling, sometimes spitefully, on air, about topics ranging from homosexuality to the language used in prayer books, perhaps we need more religious broadcasting, so that people can see how petty many "faith" divisions are! In all seriousness, I object strongly to the role religion plays in areas of public life which I believe it ought not to be allowed to influence. If people need faith, religion, or whatever they want to call it, fine, but I don't want these people to influence the BBC and I don't want Thoughts for the Day that involve the supernatural. I'd welcome more non-religious thoughts about morality and other serious topics, though!

Good luck in your deliberations (though I don't seriously believe in luck either).

11 October 2005

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