John Humphrys’ derision of BBC Radio 4’s Thought For The Day is part of the Corporation’s “sniggering contempt towards religion”, a Church of England minister and Guardian columnist has said.
Giles Fraser spoke out after Humphrys – a presenter on the Today programme – said the less than three-minute daily segment was “inappropriate” and too frequently featured Christians.
But Fraser said a “culture of sniggering contempt towards religion is endemic within the BBC”, where faith is seen to be for “the little people, for the stupid and the gullible”.
Writing in The Guardian, Fraser pointed out that the “vast majority of the people on this planet believe in some sort of God”.
“Quite simply, you cannot understand the world unless you understand something about the way that faith functions in the lives of its adherents.”
But he said “the scoffers over at the BBC” seem to have “taken sides against us in a culture war”.
for some reason, the very presence of religion… is perceived as some sort of insult to the precious, godless secularity of the news
Describing his experience of speaking on Thought For The Day, Fraser said the presenters can “barely conceal their condescension” about what he believes.
Faith seen as an insult
He continued that to the “panjandrums of the BBC, religion is for the little people, for the stupid and the gullible.
“And it’s easy to play this for laughs to a gallery of those who have read a few chapters of the Selfish Gene, and think this has turned them into philosophical giants.”
Fraser, who serves as a Church of England minister in London, added that “for some reason, the very presence of religion, even at the homeopathic levels at which it is entertained by the BBC, is perceived as some sort of insult to the precious, godless secularity of the news”.
John Humphrys made the remarks in a Radio Times interview with all five of the Today presenters.
Asked what he thought of Thought For The Day he said: “It seems to me inappropriate that Today should broadcast nearly three minutes of uninterrupted religion, given that rather more than half our population have no religion at all.”
He continued, “we have Hindus of course, and we have the occasional Muslim, the occasional Jew, but by and large it’s Christian. Why?”
‘Out of touch’
The BBC has faced regular criticism for its attitude to religion. Earlier this year, presenter Roger Bolton said the Corporation’s “liberal and secular” staff are “dangerously out of touch”.
And former BBC Political Editor Andrew Marr has described the broadcaster as a “publicly-funded, urban organisation with an abnormally large number of young people, ethnic minorities and gay people”, adding that it is “not impartial or neutral”.