Saturday, 7 November 2009

Three cheers for Ekklesia

I think it only fair to highlight cases where religious writers run a worthwhile story, and Ekklesia (see sidebar) do that often.
Yesterday they ran a story (Texas man executed after court case Bible row) on the Texan case of a man whose fate was decided after jurors consulted the Bible for guidance.
In brief, they decided he should die, and now he has. This despite a 30 day reprieve being requested to allow officials to examine a rifle for DNA evidence that someone else handled the weapon during the attack that led to a brutal murder.
Texas’s governor showed a lack of humanity, legal knowledge or, indeed, any intelligence at all probably not seen since the days of his most famous predecessor, George ‘Dubya’ Bush. We can only hope he doesn’t follow further in Dubya’s footsteps or we’re all in deep doo-doos.
Ekklesia’s Lizzie Clifford has also produced a fascinating paper on the latest wrangles over Thought For The Day, i.e. if the Beeb should allow non-religious contributors. Interesting update here, as Ekklesia’s Jonathan Bartley, always an engaging and provocative Anglican voice, was barred from the TFTD line-up after suggesting just that on Radio 4’s Today programme, which hosts TFTD.
Time For Religious To Kick The Broadcasting Habit gives a potted history of the programme, which flatly contradicts the Beeb’s claims of a fair-minded, non-evangelical stance.
As outlined in their press release:
“The new paper traces how the origins of TFTD came in a context of BBC religious broadcasting which was originally viewed as 'evangelistic and missionary'.
TFTD began as Lift Up Your Hearts, an innovation of extending religious programmes beyond Sunday into the working week. The original contributors were overwhelmingly Christian and Anglican. The slot's rebranding in 1965 to the more nominally neutral Ten to Eight was designed to reflect the changing beliefs of the listenership. But it was opposed by some in the Anglican Church as part of a general withdrawal of the BBC from its position as a central broadcaster in a 'Christian country'.
The paper also highlights how a number of other BBC radio stations, in particular regional programmes, have output which is similar to TFTD. But these successfully include contributions from the non- religious, as well as 'minority' religions, raising further questions about why TFTD has not followed suit.”
The Ekklesia paper can be found at And on that comment about regional radio, I should of course point out that Manx Radio is amongst the regionals with an open door for the non-religious, and I've done Thought For The Day slots myself as both an Amnesty International speaker and an Isle of Man Freethinker.
In fact, Manx Radio's only obstacle is a lack of willing speakers, not religious objections, and I suspect this might be the case on many a regional station. If you have one in your area, give it a shot. They'll probably bite your hand off!

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