Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

McDowell's thought for the day is spurious

Lindy McDowell's argument against a secular Thought for the Day (Life, September 12) is entirely spurious.

At first, she appears to reject the traditionalist view of the BBC's head of religion that the slot was always intended to provide a religious perspective.

But she then proceeds to defend it on the grounds that, although an atheist herself, she is more tolerant than most of us non-believers in allowing the religious their few minutes-worth in the mornings.

But why should they have such a monopoly on a public service radio?

Would it be ok to have an exclusively capitalist (or communist) 'Thought' every day before the early morning news? Or even an exclusively Christian one?

Atheists have ethical opinions on crime, war, abortion, euthanasia, marriage, gay rights and a whole host of other contemporary issues.

Yet, at the moment, the BBC's Thought for the Day is essentially an advertisement for an exclusively religious world view, in which it is sold not only as the only true explanation of reality, but also as the sole arbiter of morality on matters of public concern.

This situation is not defensible in a modern pluralist democracy. It is, therefore, perverse to argue, as Lindy McDowell does, that to demand equality for the non-religious is an example of intolerance.

Quite the reverse. It is merely seeking to ensure that a publicly financed medium truly reflects the variety of major world views in the society at large.

BRIAN McCLINTON

Director, Humanist Association of NI

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