Thought For The Day: why don't we allow humanists to have their say?
IT'S the early-morning "Godslot" that clears clouded minds and opens bleary eyes.
For more than 35 years, BBC Scotland's Thought For The Day, has remained unperturbed as the platform for religious figures to deliver their views to a nation about to leave for work. But the three-minute radio broadcast has now become a battleground between the BBC and the Humanist Society, which wants equal access to the country's airwaves.
The society, which numbers actor Stephen Fry, Scottish author Iain Banks and agony aunt Claire Rayner among its supporters, wants Thought For The Day to be opened up to "secular thinkers" to reflect the decline in importance of organised religion.
Tomorrow, it will launch its own series of podcasts in which leading humanists will present an alternative viewpoint to that allowed at BBC Scotland.
A spokeswoman said the podcasts had been timed to coincide with the official day to mark the memory of Charles Darwin, the father of evolutionary thinking.
"The BBC does not allow secular thinkers on Thought For The Day and is committed to keeping the slot religious," she said. "Our aim is both to offer an alternative to religious morality to a wide audience, and to show the BBC and the public that humanists can be equally, if not more thought provoking when tackling moral and ethical issues as religious thinkers."
Banks, the bestselling author of books such as The Wasp Factory, added: "Religions make the most extraordinary claims, while offering no real proof whatsoever, and yet are allowed to go unchallenged. It is this unthinking acceptance of religion's absurd pampering that ideas like the Darwin day podcasts seek to challenge."
Organised religion in Scotland has been in decline for decades. According to the last official Scottish Church Census, conducted in 2002, only 11.2% of the population in Scotland attends church on Sundays.
Meanwhile, more than a quarter of Scots (28%) claim to follow no faith at all.
One of the podcasts has been made by Anthony Grayling, the professor of philosophy at Birkbeck College University in London. "It is wrong that the BBC's Thought For The Day refuses to have any but religious voices on it," Grayling said. "We have tried to persuade them to give non-religious groups a voice, but that has fallen on deaf ears."
Broadcast shortly before 7.30am, the programme has become an early morning staple of BBC Scotland since 1971, and is also aired on BBC Radio Four's flagship Today programme.
BBC Scotland defended its policy saying: "Thought For The Day allows for a faith perspective on the issues which impact on modern-day Scotland.
"Secular viewpoints, perspectives and comments effectively contribute to the vast bulk of our output."
Morag Mylne, convener of the Kirk's church and society council, said: "TFTD has traditionally provided an opportunity for faith-based points of view to be presented."
It should be maintained, she added.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 3 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: West