Thought for the Day

The BBC Trust has been discussing Thought for the Day, the slot which appears in the middle of BBC Radio 4’s morning news programme Today. The point at hand is over whether atheists and humanists should have access to the slot.

The thing that has struck me about this debate is how old it all seems.

On the second occasion when I went to be selected for training for the priesthood, the very same topic came up, and that is years ago now. The selection system in those days used to end with an exercise called “10 Minute Topics”. Those being selected had to sit around in a circle and slips of paper would be put in front of the group, face down. When it was your turn, you had to pick up a piece of paper and read out the topic which was written on it. You then had to introduce the topic for 2 minutes, chair a discussion amongst the group members for 7 minutes and then sum up for 1 minute. It was a game I rather enjoyed. Oddly enough, it is one of the things that I most clearly remember from the experience.

Anyway, I turned over my piece of paper to find the topic was “Atheists should be allowed to do Thought for the Day”.

I can also remember the conclusion which the group came to which was quite clear. We agreed that we thought that there would be no great harm done to the Christianity or any other faith if an atheist was allowed to do Thought for the Day, but we thought that Choral Evensong should still be the preserve of believers.

I think that remains my view today.

No discussion of Thought for the Day is complete without directing people to Platitude of the Day:


  1. Steve says

    Diarmaid MacCulloch on Choral Evensong as the home of the hesitant: Cranmer ‘would have been appalled at the spirituality which may be represented in the love of evensong… this is the exploration of religion by those who have decided to remain on the fringe of the church, genuinely concerned to pursue their encounter with God, yet not prepared to demonastrate the degree of commitment demanded by the eucharist.’

  2. Said my piece on BBC Scotland about this this evening – trying hard not to seem to be against free speech. It wouldn’t bother me greatly if the BBC Trust had made the opposite decision.

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