Humanists have long been opposed to the religious monopoly on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio Scotland’s ‘Thought for the Day’ series. The BBC’s policy of only accepting religious contributions to these daily slots gives the false impression that only religious leaders are capable of ethical reflection and philosophical enquiry.

Thought for the World

The Humanist Society Scotland have occasionally podcasted their own humanist “Thoughts for the Day”, an initiative launched on Darwin Day 2007 (12 February). Podcasters in the first week included A C Grayling, Stewart Lee, Julian Baggini, and Nigel Warburton,Gillian Stewart, an HSS Registered Celebrant for the HSS, and Kate Hudson, chair of CND.

The series continued in 2008 with four weeks of new podcasts. We will me making these historic programmes available on the HSS site soon, in the meantime you can listen to a selection on the Guardian’s Comment is Free page.

Other examples of a Humanist ‘Thought for the Day’

At the height of the Atheist Bus Campaign in January 2009 Ariane Sherine was invited to give a “Thought For the Afternoon” on the BBC Radio 4 iPM programme.

Radio 4 had previously allowed Richard Dawkins one “alternative” Thought for the Day slot in August 2002, broadcast a considerable time after the normal Thought For the Day slot.

In 1996, Nicolas Walter of the Rationalist Press Association was invited to give five talks in the BBC World Service “Words of Faith” series – his contribution was entitled “Living Without Religion”. The talks were published in New Humanist.

In January 1955 psychologist, broadcaster and humanist Margaret Knight stunned post-war Britain by suggesting in two talks – “Morals Without Religion” – on the BBC’s Home Service (now Radio 4), that moral education should be uncoupled from religious education.

In July 2016 John Howieson becomes the first Humanist to lead Thought for the Day on Radio nan Gàidheal

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 led a short Humanist reflection each morning on the week of 11 July 2016 around 8.27am.

You can view the series 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.