Evidently my earlier hopes that change might be on the way were not justified as far as "Thought for the Day" is concerned. I have now had a reply from Tim Davie, Director of Audio & Music. This response represents the second stage in the BBC Complaints procedure and leaves the door open to an appeal to the BBC Trust.
In the following analysis, quotes from Mr Davie's letter are italicised:-
Mark Damazer was expressing the views of the BBC in his letter, and I stand by those views.
This is puzzling. I complain to the BBC about a specific aspect of its editorial policy and get replies from employees who merely state they support the policy. Could they be expected to do anything else? It poses the question of who creates the policy and why the complaint was not referred to them for consideration?
"contributors to Thought for the Day are chosen to balance voices from different Christian denominations and other religions with significant membership in the UK. "
Yes, we do know this. What relevance does this statement have to the essence of a complaint about the omission of the humanist viewpoint from TftD broadcasts.
"Speakers are expected to make brief references to their faith and its scriptures, but are not permitted to proselytise on behalf of their religion or disparage other religions."
Again this seems hardly relevant unless Mr Davie is suggesting that the inclusion of the humanist viewpoint would, by its very nature, be potent enough to amount to proselytisation and disparagement of other religions .
"While debates like these are often finely balanced, I don't believe that carrying Thought for the Day in the Today programme contravenes the BBC's editorial guidelines on bias and impatiality."
Like Mark Damazer, Mr Davie does not produce any detailed reasoning as to how the TftD programming meets the BBC's own guidelines on balance but merely asserts that it does so.
He then goes on list the BBC's other religious output in which "atheists, humanists and secularists are regularly heard, and religious leaders are questioned and challenged." Again this may be so but we are complaining about the privilege accorded the religious outlook in the Today programme.
"And of course non-religious voices are also heard extensively across the general output . .".
Well the situation could hardly be otherwise. This statement is almost fatuous.