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Jesus would not be allowed near Radio 4's Thought For The Day, says contributor

by Cara Bentley

Lord Singh has said he will no longer fill the slot, which happens every day on the Today programme at 7:45am and features religious leaders and thinkers sharing a short, topical reflection with a philosophical or religious angle.

The slot has often been criticised by former Today presenter John Humphrys, who, in his most recent tirade, told ITV's Good Morning Britain that Thought For The Day was pointless and discriminated against people without a religion and called for it to be scrapped.

Attacking it from the other end of the spectrum, Lord Indarjit Singh of Wimbledon, a Sikh and interfaith activist, said he was nearly prevented from broadcasting his thoughts about an executed Skih guru who opposed the forced conversion of Hindus to Islam "because it might offend Muslims" and claimed he got the same response when he wanted to suggest that there was just one God.

The cross-bench peer told The Times: "It was like saying to a Christian that he or she should not talk about Easter for fear of giving offence to the Jews".

The 87 year old persuaded the BBC to let him say what he wanted and there were no complaints. However, he has now quit the slot because he feels he can't represent his faith fairly.

He said: "The need for sensitivity in talking about religious, political or social issues has now been taken to absurd proportions with telephone insistence on trivial textual changes right up to going into the studio, making it difficult to say anything worthwhile.

"The aim of Thought for the Day has changed from giving an ethical input to social and political issues to the recital of religious platitudes and the avoidance of controversy, with success measured by the absence of complaints. I believe Guru Nanak [the founder of Sikhism] and Jesus Christ, who boldly raised social concerns while stressing tolerance and respect, would not be allowed near Thought for the Day today."

He added the BBC had "a misplaced sense of political correctness that pushes contributors to bland and unworldly expressions of piety that no one can complain about".

A BBC spokesperson said: "Thought for the Day is a live, topical segment and it is not unusual for editorial changes to be made so that it reflects the biggest news stories of the day.

"We disagree with Lord Singh and don't recognise his characterisation of Thought for the Day."

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