BBC allows Today programme to be used to promote Church’s evangelism campaign
Posted: Thu, 01 Jun 2017
The National Secular Society has criticised the BBC for allowing the first Thought for the Day slot of June to be used by the Church of England as a platform to promote its latest evangelism initiative.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby spoke on Radio 4 about the Church's 'Thy Kingdom Come' campaign, which invites "more people to come to know Jesus Christ".
NSS campaigns director Stephen Evans said, "It's bad enough that the BBC dedicates part of its flagship news programme to offer an unchallenged platform for religion, but allowing Thought for the Day to be used as free advertising slot for the Church of England really takes the biscuit. It further calls into question the appropriateness of this anachronistic and discriminatory slot."
In February, the BBC slapped down the new Today programme editor after she suggested Thought for the Day should be opened up to humanists.
Shortly after her appointment, the NSS wrote to Sarah Sands, urging her to use her influence as editor to rethink the slot.
Despite sitting within the Today programme, Thought for the Day is produced by the BBC's religious affairs department – and the BBC has repeatedly insulated Thought for the Day from any reform.
The slot's editorial policy explicitly discriminates against the non-religious as they are the only group barred from contributing.
In its letter to Ms Sands, the NSS suggested that Thought for the Day should be opened up to non-religious contributors, turning the daily segment into an "ethical current affairs reflection slot."
Otherwise, the discriminatory slot should be renamed 'Religious thought for the day' and moved away from Radio 4's flagship news programme and into a more suitable timeslot reflecting its niche status, the NSS said.
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