First humanist leads thought for the day on Radio nan Gàidheal

July 11, 2016

HSS Registered Celebrant John Howieson has become the first Humanist to deliver a ‘Smuain na Maidne’ (Thought for the Day) on the BBC’s Gaelic radio station Rèidio nan Gàidheal.

As part of the ‘Aithris na Maidne’ (Morning Report) programme, John will lead a short Humanist reflection each morning around 8.27am. You can view the series as they go live here.

This is a ground-breaking step forward in the BBC’s policy, which has always excluded Humanists and other non-religious groups from participating. So much so that in 2007/08 the Humanist Society Scotland launched their own series called ‘Thought for the World‘.

John Howieson, who lives in Harrapool on the Isle of Skye, is a retired head teacher who began learning Gaelic after his retirement. He was awarded the Gaelic Learner of the Year award at the Royal National Mod in 2014.

John is also known locally for his Gaelic singing, as part of the Strath Gaelic Choir.

John Howieson commented:

“It is a great honour to be asked to give a Humanist contribution for Rèidio nan Gàidheal, especially given the BBC’s longstanding policy of excluding non-religious people.

“It is a very important part of building a tolerant, open society that we acknowledge the variety of beliefs people have. In Scotland the majority of people, according to recent polls, are not religious; so it’s more important than ever that our voices are reflected in society.”

HSS Chief Executive, Gordon MacRae, also commented:

“The Humanist Society are delighted to see Rèidio nan Gàidheal extend this invitation to John. It shows an openness and desire for progress that seems lacking across the BBC’s English-speaking platforms.

John is a key ambassador for Humanism in Scotland, serving not only as a popular celebrant on Skye, but he was also responsible for setting-up our volunteer school visiting programme which helps schools teach about non-religious philosophy.”

“Hopefully John’s warm and welcoming contributions will convince the controllers of the BBC that there is a place for non-religious ethical reflection along-side its regular religious programming.”

Notes: For further information or comment please contact Gary McLelland on or 07813060713.

About HSS:
Humanist Society Scotland seeks to represent the views of people in Scotland who wish to lead ethical and fulfilling lives guided by reason, empathy and compassion. We provide a range of non-religious ceremonies and campaign for a secular state. HSS has over 14,000 members across Scotland.

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