BBC promises Songs of Praise will not become multi-faith

Songs of Praise will remain a Christian programme and will not become multi-faith, the BBC’s head of Religion and Ethics, Aaqil Ahmed, has said.

In September a Sikh executive at the Beeb suggested Songs of Praise may “explore” the inclusion of other faiths in the future.

But Mr Ahmed, speaking at the Church and Media Forum last month, gave his assurances that Songs of Praise, which is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary, would remain the BBC’s flagship Christian programme.


Mr Ahmed, a Muslim, was presented with a commemorative plaque for Songs of Praise on behalf of Britain’s churches.

At the same event, Gwyneth Williams, controller of BBC Radio 4, said she valued the Thought for the Day slot on the Today programme, as “a moment of spiritual reflection” in the hectic news agenda.

Thought for the Day has previously faced pressure from atheist groups to become secular, but the BBC has so far rejected their demands.


In September The Daily Telegraph reported that Tommy Nagra, an executive producer of Religion and Ethics at the BBC, said: “I think there’s no reason why we couldn’t explore other faiths” on Songs of Praise.

But a BBC spokesman said there were “absolutely no plans to change the format” of the programme.

Mr Nagra acknowledged that Songs of Praise is “a Christian show” and added that items featuring other faiths “would always be done through the Christian prism”.


He made the controversial suggestion in an interview to mark Songs of Praise’s 50th anniversary.

Responding to the comments a BBC spokesman countered: “Christianity is the cornerstone of our religion and ethics programming. Songs of Praise is and will remain our flagship Christian worship strand”.

Mr Nagra was appointed to his position at the BBC in 2008. Mr Ahmed was appointed as head of religious broadcasting at the Corporation in 2009 and has been criticised for having a pro-Islam bias.

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