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Desert Island Discs to do away with Bible?

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A source at the BBC has said that the Bible could be discarded as one of the standard items given to guests to take with them on the long running Radio 4 programme Desert Island Discs, reports The Independent.

Since the programme’s inception over 70 years ago, the Bible – along with the complete works of Shakespeare – has been given to ‘castaways’. They are then asked to choose their eight favourite records and a luxury item to take to the fictional island.


But according to a source at the BBC this long running format of the much loved show could be scrapped.

A handful of guests on the show have voiced objections to taking the Bible, including human rights lawyer Michael Mansfield who said he would like to take the Bible of Vegetarian Cooking instead.

In response, presenter Kirsty Young told him that it would not be possible to leave the Bible otherwise “there would be letters”.

The National Secular Society wrote to complain but the show’s then editor Alice Feinstein replied: “Castaways... are not forced to take a religious text – many choose not to take any religious book at all. Others do take one, but make the point that they would read it simply as a piece of literature.”

Not all atheists object to taking the Bible. Best-selling author Philip Pullman said he would take it, stating: “Oh yes, there are lots of good stories in the Bible.”


Scottish writer Allan Massie has commented that scrapping the Bible would be “tantamount to a rejection of our inherited culture”.

In a piece for The Telegraph, he wrote: “For this surely is the point: the Bible is at the heart of our national culture, just as Shakespeare is, perhaps even more so...

“This makes one thing clear: our historical culture, which has formed the country we have inherited, is a Christian one.”

Massie continued: “Our ideas of what is right and what is wrong remain essentially Christian, and have been inculcated by the reading of the Bible over generations.

“We may have come to disregard many of its prohibitions, but whatever is admirable and generous in our morality derives from it, and especially from what Jesus taught, notably in the Sermon on the Mount...

“If [Desert Island Discs] were to decide that its castaways should no longer be provided with the Bible, this would say something about the BBC’s understanding of the country it exists to serve.

“It would be tantamount to a rejection of our inherited culture, a rejection of our history, and an acceptance that the National Secular Society is more representative of Britain today than the Churches.

“Lord Reith, the BBC’s first Director-General who established the ethos of the corporation, would surely be whirling in his grave.”

A BBC spokesman denied that there were any plans to remove the Bible from the format of the programme.


The Independent

The Telegraph