Monday, 27 February 2012

Thought for the day

I just found this in Hugh McLeod's book The Religious Crisis of the 1960s (OUP, 2007). Thought it might be of interest in the light of today's debates about 'militant secularism'.

'In May 1965 the BBC announced that the early morning radio talk, Lift up your Hearts, would be replaced by a new kind of religious programme called Ten to Eight.* The format would be more varied and there would be a focus on "finding out what Christianity means to ordinary people". The Director of Religious Broadcasting explained: "Twenty-five years ago, when Lift up your Hearts was designed, it was possible to assume that most of the listeners would be at least nominally Christian. Designing a new programme in 1965 this cannot be assumed." There were many protests, with Mary Whitehouse, as often, being first off the mark. Two bishops followed soon after. The bishop of Leicester wrote that this was


part of a general withdrawal of the BBC from its position of a broadcasting system of a Christian country. They now want a policy of neutrality instead of a policy of acceptance of a Christian way of life. I regret the reasons given for the change—namely that there is a decline in the number of professed Christians. The real reason is that the non-Christian element has become more militant. Too much weight is allowed to its statements.'

*Lift Up Your Hearts was created by Melville Dinwiddie, the BBC's controller in Scotland who had been a Free Church of Scotland minister. This became Ten to Eight which became, in turn, 'Thought for the Day' on the Today programme, which is still broadcast at 7.50am each morning.

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