Select Committee on BBC Charter Review Written Evidence

Appendix A


  BBC's own staff oppose discrimination against atheists exclusion from TftD in their own house magazine, Ariel:


28/1/03, P11—Second Thought

  Within the BBC values framework, it states that we, as an organisation, should "make sure our output tests all points of view, and gives voice to a wide range of opinions".

  How does this sit with Radio 4's Thought For The Day? The programme continues to disallow atheists from expressing their beliefs. Will the programme makers be changing their policy in light of the newly published values?

Gavin Lennon, Hutchison 3G project

4/2/03, P10—Why we must keep faith with format

  I do not think the BBC is failing atheists by excluding them from Thought for the Day (January 28). This item is of a religious nature and atheism is an anti-religious viewpoint. I do not recall seeing members of the Flat Earth Society on The Sky at Night, pro-hunting positions on wildlife programmes, or those who wish to ban boxing on the BBC's sports output, so why should those who are opposed to God expect space in programmes expressing spiritual values?

  If this argument seems less than compelling to atheists, they can console themselves in the knowledge that the rest of the BBC's message is generally anti-Christian, atheists getting the last word, the best questions, and the most heroic positions. God is usually left with only the halt, the lame, the mentally confused and the inadequate to speak for him.

  As a parting note, I'm left wondering exactly what kind of thought for the day atheism has to offer. I can't see despair or defeatism or self-pity going down too well at that hour in the morning.

John Davis, senior archives researcher

P10 Thought-Provoking

  John Davis' sour and mean-minded attack on atheists is another great argument for our inclusion in Thought for the Day (4 February). Not that we needed one.

  TftD is not a religious item. In practice it is a daily piece about ethics and morality. Restricting it to the religious maintains the fiction that one must have religion to have morality.

  Where's the `despair' in knowing you have just one life and living it to the full? Where's the defeatism in working to improve your world for those around you and those who follow you? Where's the self-pity in realising that, without someone to wipe your slate clean, you alone can take responsibility for your actions?

  Recently there was much talk about making TftD less trite'. May I humbly suggest that this could be achieved by inviting contributors who have to think hard about their morals, rather than those who have them dictated by a very old book.

Colin Hazelden, BBC North Yorkshire

  May I reassure John Davis that I suffer no anguish whatever in finding no need for a supernatural explanation of the world? Nature is just as astonishing, beautiful and fascinating whether we believe that it's part of an unfathomable plan, or that it just blunders along on its own. Tragedy and suffering are neither explained nor lessened by the proposition that they serve a greater being's hidden purpose.

Martin Young, studio and location group

  Atheism is an empowering philosophy which values reason over ignorance, enquiry over acceptance That's why theists have always striven to devalue and censor it. How sad that people like John Davis and the producers of Thought for the Day are still fighting the battles of the Middle Ages.

Richard Crompton, BBC Four news

  John Davis asks why those opposed to God should expect space in programmes expressing spiritual values? This is the Today programme you're talking about, right? And since when are atheists opposed to God, I thought that was Satanists.

  As an incredible parting shot he says he can't see `despair, defeatism or self-pity going down too well' in the slot. There's a guy who stands at Oxford Circus every day with a megaphone who says pretty much the same thing, judging people he knows nothing about.

Andrew Badley, Henry Wood House

  John Davis says that he doesn't understand why those `opposed to God' should expect airtime in a `spiritual programme'. As I understand it, atheism does not exclude spirituality—individual spirituality is truly an indefinable quantity and not the preserve of organised religions.

Greg Boraman, Digital radio development

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