James Kelly. BBC Complaints 
Sunday, 29 November, 2015, 06:49 AM - TFTD
Reference CAS-3574495-S4B181

Thank you for contacting us about ‘Thought for the Day’ on Radio 4.

I understand you feel this programme is outdated and biased and ought to removed from the schedules.

First and foremost, ‘Thought for the Day’ is a unique slot on the BBC in which speakers from a wide range of religious faiths reflect on an issue of the day from their faith perspective.

In the midst of the three-hour 'Today' programme devoted to overwhelmingly secular concerns - national and international news and features, searching interviews and sometimes heated debate on issues of public policy - the BBC judges it appropriate to offer a brief, uninterrupted interlude of spiritual reflection, at a point in the morning when most of the audience are embarking on their day.

At its best the short talk plants a seed of thought, a spark of spiritual insight that stays with listeners during the day. At times of national event or crisis it also has the capacity to catch the mood of the nation and speak to it.

Although the number of UK church-goers has dwindled in recent decades, the policy remains in place because a significant majority of the UK population (around 70 per cent), including increasing numbers from non-Christian faiths, claim a belief in God or describe themselves as "spiritual." Also, the level of attendance in religious activities among the Radio 4 audience is higher than the national average.

Broadening the brief would detract from the distinctiveness of the slot.

‘Thought for the Day’ has been a regular feature on BBC Radio for nearly 40 years and therefore the programme's remit and approach is very well known by listeners and we therefore feel the programme's title is appropriate and should remain.

The BBC believes that all licence fee payers have the right to hear their reasonable views and beliefs reflected on its output. Within ‘Thought for the Day’ a careful balance is maintained of voices from different Christian denominations and other religions with significant membership in the UK. Speakers are expected to make brief references to their faith and its scriptures, but are not permitted to proselytise on behalf of their religion or to disparage other religions.

‘Thought for the Day’ speakers are not questioned or interrupted on air, but their choice of subject and the content of their scripts are subject to careful scrutiny and frequent re-drafting in collaboration with an experienced producer working to strict BBC guidelines on impartiality.

In addition, the mix of regular contributors to the slot represents a wide range of theological, social and political views to ensure further balance across a period of time.

Non-religious voices are also heard extensively across the general output. Occasional programmes give voice to atheist and humanist viewpoints. The vast swathe of general programmes makes little reference to religion, but approach the world from an overwhelmingly secular perspective: news, current affairs, documentaries, talks, science, history; which includes, of course, the other 2 hours 57 minutes of the Today programme.

Outside ‘Thought for the Day’, the BBC's Religion & Ethics output maintains a balance of religious and non-religious voices, through programmes such as ‘Sunday’, ‘Something Understood’, ‘Beyond Belief’ and ‘The Moral Maze’. In these programmes, atheists, humanists and secularists are regularly heard, the religious world is scrutinised, its leaders and proponents are questioned, and the harm done in the name of religion is explored.

We do not suggest that the only people with anything worthwhile to say about morals or ethics are religious people but that does not mean that the ‘Thought for the Day’ brief is not a legitimate one for listeners of all faiths and those of none. Some of the programme's strongest support and most positive feedback comes from people who begin, "I am not a religious person but I do enjoy ‘Thought for the Day’…

I hope my response helps to clarify our position on this programme however I appreciate you may continue to hold an alternative view.

All complaints are sent to senior management and programme makers every morning and we have included your points in this overnight report. These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the BBC and ensures that your complaint has been seen by the right people quickly.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact us.

Kind regards

James Kelly

BBC Complaints

10 comments ( 335 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 0 / 0 )

Rev Roy Jenkins, Baptist Minister in Cardiff  
Saturday, 28 November, 2015, 07:49 AM - Jenkins
What's the solution to the constant bombardment of charity appeals? How does our unique belief in an Invisible Magic Friend help us deal with funding fatigue?

I don't know. I really hope someone thinks of an answer.

And that is the Big News today from a Faith Perspective.

5 comments ( 367 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 2.5 / 4 )

Strikingly Revd Nicholas Baines, Bishop of Leeds, West Yorkshire, the Dales and any other bits that can't afford their own bishop any more Nick Baines 
Friday, 27 November, 2015, 07:50 AM - Materialism, Music
It's Black Friday. I'm not going to be a hypocrite like John Lennon. I'm not going to point out that Black Friday is a hedonistic, consumerist nightmare. I'm not one of those people who suggests that vulgar ownership of goods is something for the uneducated, unwashed masses.

Instead, I want to bring you a different message. Go buy Adele's latest album! It's really good and is exclusively available from all shops and online retailers that sell CDs.

23 comments ( 626 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 5 )

Rev Canon Angela Tilby, Christchurch Cathedral Oxford  
Thursday, 26 November, 2015, 07:57 AM - Tilby
There's nothing interesting in the news today, so I thought I'd mention that the monks of Glastonbury just made up all the stuff about Jesus visiting the place. I know what you're thinking, religious people making stuff up, how terrible. You only have to read the New Tasty mint, a reliable and not at all made up source, to realise that widespread international travel by the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend is a very silly idea.

The monks tales are not fraud however. This is faith spreading, being relevant and, by religious standards, counts as true.

11 comments ( 640 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 5 )

Great Uncle Dr Lord Indarjit Singh JP, CBE, Baron Wimbledon, Director of the Network of Sikh Organisations  
Wednesday, 25 November, 2015, 07:59 AM - Interfaith, Singh
If the Invisible Magic Friend had human emotions, like jealousy, anger, pride, hatred, love or regret, we'd have seen it in one of the Big Books of Magic Stuff.

And another thing, Guru Nanak thought there was too much fighting between religions, so he invented a new one. Yes, the solution to inter-religious slaughter is always more religion.

2 comments ( 523 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 5 )

Rev Dr. (hon. Kingston) Dr. (hon. St. Andrews) Joel Edwards 
Tuesday, 24 November, 2015, 07:50 AM - Edwards
2 comments ( 540 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 5 )

The Ex-Big Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, Baron Aldgate  
Monday, 23 November, 2015, 07:46 AM - Interfaith, Sacks
Happy day-after-Mitzvah day everyone! This is the day, started by Jews, where people of various faiths decide to do one good deed for people of the wrong faith. Then for the other 364 days we can get back to normal.

How do we reconcile the Invisible Magic Friend of this unbounded generosity with the Invisible Magic Friend who instructs his followers to ruthlessly gun down innocent people? It turns out that the will of the Invisible Magic Friend always seems to reflect the will of the believer. Who'd have thunk it?

10 comments ( 844 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3.3 / 6 )

Rev Roy Jenkins, Baptist Minister in Cardiff  
Saturday, 21 November, 2015, 07:47 AM - Health, Jenkins
Ebola keeps hanging on and antibiotic resistance is reaching crisis point.

The Bible.

My point, I think, is clear.

7 comments ( 1045 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 5 )

Unbelievably Revd Nicholas Baines, Bishop of Leeds, West Yorkshire, the Dales and any other bits that can't afford their own bishop any more  
Friday, 20 November, 2015, 07:49 AM - Baines
St Francis, Paris, god, god, god, pray, god, god, god, pray, pray, god, god, god. Repentance, Greek, Jesus... hope.

And that is the Big News today from a Faith Perspective.

9 comments ( 314 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 5 )

Mona Siddiqui, professor of Islamic studies, New College, University of Edinburgh 
Thursday, 19 November, 2015, 07:49 AM - Siddiqui
10 comments ( 868 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3.3 / 6 )

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