"Do you think Radio 4’s Thought for the Day should be opened up to
secularists and humanists?"
- Yes, open it up
- No, keep it for religion
- Just scrap Thought for the Day
Not a bit of it. Yesterday Liberal Democrat Voice published the results of the poll. The results were:
- Yes 384
- No 122
- Scrap it 134.
My own religious position is settled. While I love Church of England architecture and music, that does not mean that its doctrine true. And to adopt an intellectualised form of Christianity so that I could enjoy them - saying that when we talk about life after death we are really saying something profound about this life - would be dishonest.
Besides, though I find Evensong in a cathedral moving, on the rate occasions I have been obliged to go to other services I have found the sermon worthless and the music a dirge. And I seriously hate the Evangelical, Christian Union style of belief. I have seen it do great harm in my own family.
The trouble is that organised secularists resemble no one so much as these happy-clappy Christians. They are just as tedious and in much the same way. Hence the recent atheist summer camp for children, for example.
There was a time when I was attracted to the secularist movement, but I found them closed minded. They took it for granted that if you agreed that there was no God or god then you would share a their views on a raft of subjects like abortion and euthanasia. For me, that simply didn't follow.
And have these people ever heard Thought for the Day? It is dull beyond endurance. Its short length and the demand for blandness kill any interesting ideas stone dead, and I don't see that atheist would cope with it any better. The best you could hope for would be to mirror the rebarbative certainty of Anne Atkins.
What is most objectionable about Thought for the Day is the attempt to insinuate religion into the very worldly Today programme like an aspirin in a teaspoon of jam. It would be better by far to give Christians and other believers - and non-believers - their own programmes.
I still regret that Radio 4 no longer broadcasts the service of Compline late on Sunday evenings:
Brethren, be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist, steadfast in the faith.