Last month the South East London Humanist Group (SELHuG) held the first of a planned series of demos outside the BBC in a bid to get the corporation to open up Radio 4’s Thought for the Day to secular voices. A second demonstration took place yesterday, July 17.
Thought for the Day, says the National Secular Society:
Is a daily slot within BBC Radio 4’s flagship news programme which explicitly and without pretence excludes non-religious contributors – the only demographic group to be singled out for exclusion.
Putting such a prominent discussion slot within Radio 4’s flagship news programme, but outside of that programme’s editorial control means that there is no right to reply when the slot is used for political or religious proselytizing.
Reforming Thought for the Day to make it an ethical/philosophical discussion slot for current issues would improve overall quality, make it relevant to Today’s audience and remove the unjustifiable discrimination. Contributors should be picked without reference to their religious or non-religious identity.
SELHuG reported on its website last month that its campaign to get humanists on Thought for the Day:
Got off to a good start … Our banners looked fantastic, could be seen clearly by passing bus passengers and pedestrians, and hundreds if not thousands of BBC staff walking into work got an eyeful.
One of our members, Sebastian, was interviewed by Radio Cornwall presenter Donna Birrell who played it on her Sunday Breakfast programme the following weekend and invited listeners to say whether they think humanists should be represented on programmes like Thought for the Day.
She also said she would invite a Cornwall Humanists member on soon, so we have managed to get humanism talked about in the West Country if not Broadcasting House – yet!
We managed to thrust a flyer into the hands of Today presenter John Humphrys who turned and said “I started this you know”, and Front Row’s Samira Ahmed, a frontrunner to replace David Dimbleby on Question Time, stopped for a chat as well as people coming in to be interviewed on various programmes, and members of the public.
Our local newspaper, the Mercury, wrote a decent article about the campaign: in true tabloid style it was called “We’re only humanists after all” after the Rag’n’ bone Man song.
We have agreed to demonstrate every month on the second Tuesday between 8am and 10am, except July when it will be the third Tuesday, 17th.
So the next three dates are 17 July, 14 August and 11 September.
Please sign the statement and consider writing to the BBC (there’s one ready to copy and paste into an email) if you haven’t already: go to the ‘BBC Campaign’ tab in the menu bar for full details.
We will be slowly building support over coming months: watch this space.