Category: Radio

Radio reviews and recommendations.

Radio 4 on Annie Besant

Annie BesantThis week’s ‘In Our Time’ with Melvyn Bragg is about campaigning 19th century secularist Annie Besant, who had a close relationship with Charles Bradlaugh, founder of the National Secular Society.

Well worth listening to for the history of secularism in the UK. Click here to listen on BBC iPlayer.

Click here to read about the history of the National Secular Society.




Image from Wikimedia Commons.

BBC poll gives misleading results

I was invited by BBC Radio Essex to comment on an opinion poll commissioned by the BBC on “the Monarchy’s role in faith today” (pdf), that appears to show that the Queen should retain “a faith role”. The other contributor to this item was the Bishop of Chelmsford, Stephen Cottrell.

The BBC’s press release says,

Almost three quarters of people in England think that the Queen and future monarchs should keep the title of Supreme Governor of the Church of England and ‘Defender of the Faith’.

Additionally four-fifths (79%) of those who took part in a survey by ComRes for BBC local radio agree the Queen still has an important faith role.

73 per cent also think she should still be Defender of the Faith – a title which was originally given to Henry VIII – and remain as the Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

Only a quarter (25%) agree that the Queen and future monarchs should not have any faith role or title at all.

The survey also found opinion divided on the suggestion by Prince Charles that he might change the religious role of the monarchy.

He has called for greater understanding between people of different faiths and says he would personally rather see his role as ‘Defender of Faith’ not ‘The Faith’.

Half of those surveyed (50%) say that they agree that if Prince Charles becomes king his title should be changed to Defender of Faith compared with 35 per cent who said they disagree with the proposed change to the title.

The survey found some regional variations in attitudes to the faith role of the monarch.

 A third of Londoners (32%) agree that the Queen and future monarchs should have no faith role or title at all compared with 19% in the South West.

The item was brief, so there was only time to point out that the poll focussed people’s attention on the current monarch, who is very popular, but what if one of her heirs is not religious? And what about disestablishment?

I think that the poll results are misleading because most people won’t know what “defender of the faith” means, and will not have considered the possibilities for the future of the monarchy.

What passed for a “discussion” on BBC Radio Suffolk

I was asked to contribute to a discussion on James Hazell’s Saturday Show on BBC Radio Suffolk. James introduced the slot on Facebook as follows:

The Warr Zone at 11 – Are we losing our religion? Rows over prayers at council meetings, falling church attendences and an MP who says Europe needs to ‘get comfortable’ with christianity. Do you need religion in your life?

The “Warr” in the title is Simon Warr. I’d never heard of him before but apparently he teaches at the Royal Hospital School, Holbrook (he isn’t the headteacher, as some have described him), and he writes a column for the East Anglian Daily Times as well as being on Radio Suffolk. If you listen to the broadcast, from about 2 hours and 10 minutes in, you’ll find that Mr Warr isn’t strong on listening skills and shouts a lot. Click here for his website, and see below for his appearance on The One Show, where he advocated beating children.

You have about a week to hear it on iPlayer – click here to listen. I don’t think that it will have enlightened many of those who are confused about the “militant secularism” claims.


Persecuted Christians? In Britain?

Christians are saying that they’re ‘Not Ashamed‘, apparently, and Eric Pickles has declared war on the war on Christmas. I didn’t know anything about the Not Ashamed campaign when I came out of the shower this morning and answered the phone from BBC Radio Suffolk. Due to some crossed wires, I was expected to comment on air. Had to ask what I was supposed to be commenting about. So if it makes no sense, that’s why.

Anyhow, for a few days you can listen again. I’m on about 40 minutes into James Hazell’s programme.

Why our welcomings aren’t free

Just did a radio interview about baby-naming or welcoming ceremonies. Didn’t get a chance to say a lot but was asked how much we charge. I said £130. One of the other contributors, a clergyman, said theirs are free. Of course they are – he’s paid a salary by his church. We’re self-employed. I asked the presenter, James Hazell, to point this out.

To hear the item, wait until the programme is available on Listen Again on the BBC website, and listen from about 11.45am.

To find out more, read about our ceremonies.

Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5

Kurt VonnegutSorry to have delayed posting this, but in case you missed it, last week’s Saturday Play on BBC Radio 4 was Slaughterhouse 5, a dramatisation of Kurt Vonnegut’s powerful anti-war novel. You have until 4.02pm this Saturday, 20th Februay, to listen on i-player.

Kurt Vonnegut was honorary president of the American Humanist Association. He thought religious doctrine was “so much arbitrary, clearly invented balderdash.”

Vonnegut said,

New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become.

BBC Trust says no to non-religious Thoughts for the Day

The BBC Trust today announced its findings on a number of appeals about the broadcast of Radio 4’s Thought for the Day and BBC editorial policy on non-religious content.

The Trust found that the editorial policy of only allowing religious contributors to participate on Thought for the Day does not breach either the BBC Editorial Guideline on impartiality or the BBC’s duty to reflect religious and other beliefs in its programming.