Catherine Bennett asked whether it is “time to silence BBC preachers who keep women down” on Thought for the Day, in her Observer comment piece at the weekend. She called the reflective slot ‘a pulpit for illiberal views’, pointing out that patriarchal and sexist opinions from contributors such as Giles Fraser, Tim Stanley and bishop of Norwich Graham James “have become ever more irreconcilable – when they are not transparently discriminatory – with evolving secular thinking, in a country where more than half have no faith”.
She says: “Faith professionals enjoy an exemption, under the Equality Act, allowing them to discriminate for spiritual purposes. But what is the BBC’s excuse?”
While doing away with TFTD altogether would be one response to this, it wouldn’t change the way the BBC privileges religion across its broadcasting; TFTD is just the tip of an iceberg. Widening the slot to include a range of non-religious thinkers is a better solution.
Our latest letter-writer from the TFTD campaign’s youngest supporter, Sebastian Lewis, put it this way: “As a young person, and a media student, it is important to me that British people in their diversity are represented in the media, whatever their gender, skin colour, sexual identity, ability, class or philosophy.
“Humanism is a great worldview yet it is hidden from view – in the same way women and black people were written out of history until recently, or homosexuality was a taboo subject… We will continue to campaign to represent those who wish to define themselves as non-religious and those as humanists be it freethinker, agnostic or secularist.” Sebastian handed over his letter to the BBC at the February demonstration.
Our next demo is an afternoon one – on Tuesday 12 March from 4pm to 6pm. Please join us.