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Thought for the Day controversy

Thought for the Day controversy to be aired in public debate

The Church and Media Network will host a public debate on BBC Radio 4’s controversial Thought for the Day next month. The motion for debate is that “This House Believes that Humanist speakers should be included in BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day.”

The two minute slot will come into sharp focus this Autumn when the BBC Trust will deliver a ruling on a formal complaint that humanist views are under-represented by the BBC, with Thought for the Day cited in evidence. 

Announcing the debate the Director of the Church and Media Network Andrew Graystone said, “Thought for the Day is a totemic issue for the humanist movement. But some fear that it is religious, not secular voices that are in danger of being under-represented. Because their ruling was generated by a complaint, the BBC Trust has not opened this issue for public consultation. We hope that by hosting this debate on a cornerstone of the BBC’s religious output we can give a proper airing to the arguments on all sides.” 

The motion will be proposed by Dr Andrew Copson, the Director of Education and Public Affairs at the British Humanist Association. He will be joined by comedienne Ariane Sherine, who masterminded the “atheist bus campaign” and delivered an experimental secular Thought for the Day on Radio 4’s PM programme. 

Opposing the motion will be Canon Giles Fraser, who is a regular Thought for the Day contributor and was recently appointed Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral.  He will be joined by Rt Rev Nick Baines, the Bishop of Croydon. The debate will be chaired by the distinguished broadcaster Edward Stourton, who as presenter of Today on Radio 4 has introduced many Thoughts for the Day. 

The debate will take place on Thursday 8th October at the LICC at St Peter’s, Vere Street (off Oxford Street) London. Refreshments will be served from 6.30pm and the debate will begin at 7pm. Members of the public are welcome, with tickets priced £7.50, available on the door. 

The Church and Media Network (formerly known as the Churches’ Media Council) exists to promote mutual understanding between the media and the Christian community.  ENDS

Members of the media wishing to attend should contact Andrew Graystone by email

Andrew Graystone 
PO Box 149, Manchester M19 2XA

Tony is a Superintendent Methodist Minister, broadcaster and author. He is a radio presenter with Premier Christian Radio and a regular contributor to BBC Radio 2's Pause for Thought (5.45 am). Tony is married with two children and four grandchildren.

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