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Radio: This ‘God spot’ has no right to think on our behalf

This article is over 12 years, 7 months old
‘On the radio’ with Mike Gonzalez
Issue 2183

Every morning of the week, in the middle of the Today news programme, Radio 4 offers its “Thought for the Day” – a reflection on ethical questions of the moment.

Yet the only people who are allowed to contribute are religious speakers. After years of complaints, the BBC has published a response – that “allowing only religious contributors to participate” does not breach the duty to be impartial.

This gives a whole new meaning to the word “impartial”, of course. But it also suggests that ethical and moral questions can only be answered by religious people.

What, I wonder, would be the religious response to the Iraq inquiry and the plethora of lies it is (reluctantly and partially) revealing every day?

God has very little to add on the matter – but anti-war activists, socialists, the families of dead soldiers and Afghans have plenty to say about the “morality” of a war fought for oil.


I recently heard the British consul in Basra on “Woman’s Hour” describing her job as encouraging British businesses to invest in Iraqi oil, now that we’ve done the groundwork!

All this on the instructions of a God-fearing practising Christian who lied in order to take the country to war.

Moral and ethical judgments are concerned with the relationships between human beings and how they can be resolved in a spirit of solidarity and mutual respect.

A long time ago, the philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach explained how the adoration of religious images encouraged people to see the power to change things as outside themselves.

Without God, we can identify our own power to shape the world collectively – and recognise history as the product of human actions.

The rabbi and the archbishop have no right to think on our behalf, claiming that they are speaking for a higher power.

After all, that’s what Tony Blair did (in his case it was a combination of God and George Bush).

That’s my thought for the day.

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