Airbrushing humanism out of the national conversation
What will change the BBC’s approach to ‘Religion & Ethics’? There IS something strange going on.
Humanists UK or BHA as it used to be, and the National Secular Society, and many important people inside and outside of the BBC have been putting all the rational arguments for decades as to why the BBC should talk about beliefs rather than religion, and view philosophy and ethics from a perspective that treats religious and non-religious worldviews equally.
On the question of Thought for the Day, those deputed to speak for the BBC over the years have never engaged with the rational arguments. They stick to the same formula: that religion is special; that there is ‘religion’ and then there is ‘secular’ or ‘non-religious’, and by implication humanism is the same as secular or non-religious; and that ‘everything else’ that is not religious is ‘non-religious’.
So, a 3-part trick or sleight of hand – watch it again: religion is special, everything else is non-religious, you asked for humanism and you’ve got it because it’s the same as everything else.
Here’s Mark Damazer, the then-Controller of Radio 4, on the subject in 2009: “Non-religious voices are also heard extensively across the general output in news, current affairs, documentaries, talks, science, history. These programmes approach the world from perspectives which are not religious. As, of course, do the other 2 hours 57 minutes of Today.”
It’s a disingenuous argument. He elides ‘non-religious’ with ‘a-religious’. How many times have Humanists UK and others pointed out that they are not the same.
The impact of the BBC’s argument has been to airbrush humanism out of the national conversation.
We hope to have better luck with the new Controller of Radio 4, Mohit Bakaya, once he has settled in.
Please join us at the September demo – it’s an afternoon one – 4pm to 6pm on Tuesday 10th September.