The Bible could be jettisoned by the BBC’s popular radio show, Desert Island Discs, according to a source within the broadcaster.
The show asks guests which records they would take with them if exiled on an island, and they have been given the Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare as well by default.
But, according to a report in The Independent, a BBC source says there have been discussions about whether to end the presumption about the Bible after more than 70 years on the show.
The BBC has denied that there are any plans or discussions to remove the Bible from the programme.
The alleged discussions have come months after the death of the show’s creator’s widow, who previously owned the rights to the programme.
The National Secular Society has called for the Bible to be dropped from the show.
But atheists including author Philip Pullman have responded positively to the inclusion of the Bible.
Former presenter Sue Lawley asked Mr Pullman what book he would take, and added, “I suppose you don’t want the Bible.” But he replied: “Oh yes, there are lots of good stories in the Bible.”
Scottish author Allan Massie, writing in the Daily Telegraph, said, “the Bible is at the heart of our national culture, just as Shakespeare is, perhaps even more so. For centuries it was found in any home where someone could read.
“The family Bible might be the only book there; often it might sit next to John Bunyan’s allegorical Christian novel, The Pilgrim’s Progress.
“This makes one thing clear: our historical culture, which has formed the country we have inherited, is a Christian one.”
He added: “If it were to decide that its castaways should no longer be provided with the Bible, this would say something about the BBC’s understanding of the country it exists to serve.
“It would be tantamount to a rejection of our inherited culture, a rejection of our history, and an acceptance that the National Secular Society is more representative of Britain today than the Churches.”
Last month the BBC’s latest annual report revealed that the broadcaster’s religious output had fallen by 20 per cent in one year.