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This has been an ongoing issue for years. Radio 4’s flagship news programme in the morning, Today, has long had a Thought for the Day segment where religious figures come on and present their thought for the day – some kind of moral tract or piece relevant to religious philosophy or thinking. There have been calls for years to include a humanist view in the mix, but this has been resisted by successive editors. This may change.

From the British Humanist Association:

Take action! You can use our handy tool write to the Chair of the BBC Trust to call for inclusion of non-religious perspectives in Thought for the Day. It only takes two minutes to do so.

Sarah Sands, the next editor of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, has called for humanist contributions to be permitted on Thought for the Day. Thought for the Day is a three-minute slot that appears in the middle of the programme that offers ‘reflections from a faith perspective on issues and people in the news’. It has always excluded non-religious perspectives, something that the British Humanist Association (BHA) has long campaigned on as being unjustified and inexplicable, given its unique slot as a moment of reflection on the day’s events.

In an article in Saturday’s Financial Times, Sands writes:

Given there are some who say I must change nothing, I was amused to chat to an old Today hand, Robert Fox, who pointed out how much the programme had developed over the years. In his day it was much more informal and had an engaging air of jeopardy about it. So I will try not to be overwhelmed by the institution. And if we are to start in deep waters, what about Thought for the Day? This slot, it seems to me, is about the meaning of life, so the title hardly does it justice. It is much, much more than platitudes about Jesus and Brexit, balanced now and then with a view from another faith. And if this is about profound faith, surely we should also include humanists? I admire religion and believe it is robust enough to have challengers. I wonder what the listeners think of this…’

BHA Campaigns Manager Richy Thompson commented, ‘Sarah is right that all the logical justifications for the Thought for the Day slot – its opportunity to offer a moment of deeper reflection on the day’s news, to offer people the chance to hear different perspectives on questions of morality and ethics, and to build mutual understanding between those of different religions and beliefs – point to the need to include non-religious voices alongside religious ones. Humanists are no less moral than religious people and many prominent voices in society today are non-religious. And yet we are still excluded from the slot.

‘It is long past time this injustice is brought to an end, and we will continue to put pressure on the BBC Trust until it is.’

Take action! You can use our handy tool write to the Chair of the BBC Trust to call for inclusion of non-religious perspectives in Thought for the Day. It only takes two minutes to do so.


For further comment or information, please contact BHA Director of Public Affairs and Policy Pavan Dhaliwal on or 07738 435059.

Read Sarah Sands’ comments in the Financial Times

Read more about our campaigns work on broadcasting:

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.

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Jonathan MS Pearce

A TIPPLING PHILOSOPHER Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, author, columnist, and public speaker with an interest in writing about almost anything, from skepticism to science, politics, and morality,...