Secularists in the UK are up in arms over a BBC plan to elbow regular programmes off the schedules on a day in January to make way for a day of Bible readings.
Next year sees the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, and on January 9 readings on BBC Radio 4 – the corporation’s main radio speech channel – will be spread throughout the day, running from early morning till midnight. Each 15-minute reading will feature a well-known voice, including actors Samuel West, Hugh Bonneville and Emilia Fox, historian Simon Schama and writer Will Self. Only the network’s most popular shows – such as The Archers and Gardeners’ Question Time – will still have their normal scheduling. The move has angered Terry Sanderson, president of the UK’s National Secular Society. The Daily Telegraph quotes Sanderson as saying: “It is fair enough to have a programme devoted to it, but the coverage is so excessive it beggars belief. “The BBC is supposed to be for everybody, not just Christians, so to devote a whole day to a minority, which is what Christians now are, is unfair to other listeners who may want something different.” A BBC spokesman is quoted as saying: “The King James Bible is generally accepted to have had a significant impact on our language, the arts and music. “A 400th anniversary is a rather special landmark, and we feel it is appropriate that the BBC sets aside part of one day’s scheduling to mark such an event.