Mark Thomas, Muriel Gray, AC Grayling, Claire Rayner, Jonathan Bartley and Polly Toynbee will all be contributing to an alternative Thought for the Day podcast starting this Monday, 9 February. Entitled Thought for the World it will be hosted by the Humanist Society of Scotland at http://www.thoughtfortheworld.org and will also feature daily on The Guardian’s Comment is Free web site, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree
Thought for the World was first created in 2007 when Humanist Society of Scotland celebrant, Juliet Wilson, decided to stop complaining about the BBC’s refusal to allow secular thinkers on their flagship Radio 4 news programme, Today, and set up the secular alternative in podcast form. The Humanist Society of Scotland (HSS) campaign enjoys the support of the British Humanist Association (BHA).
A new message will feature each day on Comment is Free until Friday 20 February
Juliet Wilson, Humanist Society of Scotland, said: “The BBC argues that TFTD should remain devoutly religious because the rest of the programme is profoundly secular. I think they’re missing a trick.
If the UN Special Rapporteur on Religion and Belief is to be believed, two thirds of the UK population has no religious belief. Why should they look to religious leaders for moral guidance? If the Daily Mail is to be believed, there’s a huge moral vacuum in our society. For once, I agree, but let’s fill it with philosophers, thinkers and comedians whose conclusions are reached by reason and compassion rather than divine revelation.”
The Humanist Society of Scotland hopes that Thought for the World will catch the public’s imagination in the same way as the Atheist Bus campaign of 2008. Listeners will be asked to make up their own minds, and if they like what they hear, they can sign a petition asking the BBC to open up Thought for the Day to secular thinkers or donate a small sum so Thought for the World can run all year round.
Matt Seaton, editor, Comment is Free, said: “Since its inception, Comment is free has aimed not only to offer a platform for informed comment and analysis on the big issues of the day, but also to provide an open-ended space for debate where users can comment and enter into dialogue with contributors and each other: free thinking and free speech are in our DNA. This is why we are hosting the Another Thought for the Day podcasts and we very much look forward to the discussion that will ensue.”
BHA Chief Executive Hanne Stinson said: “Reflective thoughts on the events of the day do not come only from “people of faith”, so the BBC, which has obligations to its many humanist listeners just as to its religious ones, is quite wrong to exclude non-religious contributors from ‘Thought for the Day’. We hope that these alternative Thought for the Day podcasts will help to convince the BBC that this unique slot would only be enhanced by the inclusion of perspectives from the rich tradition of humanist thought and reflection.”