BBC resists humanist call for secular Thought for the Day

The BBC has rejected demands from humanists that they should be allowed to appear on Radio 4’s three-minute religious slot, Thought for the Day.

The segment, aired as part of the broadcaster’s flagship Today Programme, offers “reflections from a faith perspective on issues and people in the news”.

The British Humanist Association had called for its views to be heard on Thought for the Day, but the corporation says there are “no plans” to change the format for the segment.


The demand came after the incoming editor of the Today programme proposed a more secular version of Thought for the Day.

Sarah Sands wrote in the Financial Times that if it really was a segment on faith, “surely we should also include humanists”.

The publicly-funded broadcaster responded by stating that Sands would have no say over its content as Thought for the Day was part of the BBC’s religious programming.

A senior BBC source said Sands was not “recommending editorial changes”, but merely “discussing her personal experience and a more general open minded approach to taking on the editorship of Today”.

Christian heritage

In response, The Christian Institute’s Head of Communications, Ciarán Kelly commented that: “So much of the BBC’s output already conveys a secular humanist worldview.

“Thought for the Day itself has precious little left of the Christian heritage that once set it apart, but what little distinctiveness remains is worth preserving.”

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