RTE’s Head of Broadcast Compliance has written to Atheist Ireland in response our complaints about the Angelus.
We thank RTE for its comprehensive reply, and we welcome that RTE is to reconsider whether the title ‘The Angelus’ remains the best one for modern Ireland.
We believe that changing the title would be an important first step to creating a genuinely inclusive and religiously neutral moment of reflection.
The relevant quote from the letter from RTE to Atheist Ireland reads:
“We have given careful consideration to your argument about the term “Angelus” and will take further soundings to determine whether that title remains the best one for today’s Ireland.”
Changing the title should be the first of several changes to make the moment inclusive.
We remain concerned about other aspects of the Angelus, and of RTE’s response to our complaints.
Other aspects of the Angelus
In particular RTE now denies that what is being broadcast is the Angelus, but both RTE and the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland have previously said the opposite.
The relevant quotes from the Broadcasting Commission, in responding to a complaint in 2009, are:
“RTE has interpreted this section to mean that there is an obligation to make programmes which reflect the religious views of all the people of lreland… Whilst they recognise that the Angelus is a Catholic prayer, RTE believes that people of other faiths can use the minute as an opportunity for reflection or personal prayer…”
“In assessing a complaint, the Commission has regard to the content of the broadcast material, which on this occasion is the Angelus. The Angelus is broadcast twice daily by RTE and is one minute in duration. The Commission would acknowledge that the Angelus is synonymous with the Catholic religion.”
In that case, the commission ruled, based on different arguments than those being made by Atheist Ireland, that the broadcast of the Angelus as a Catholic prayer was defensible.
But Atheist Ireland is now arguing that RTE should not be asking atheists to reflect on life under a Catholic call to prayer, as it is disrespectful to our philosophical convictions.
The Broadcasting Commission (now the Broadcasting Authority) has never ruled on this particular argument, and we hope that we can resolve it with RTE without having to ask the BAI to judge on it.
Recent news coverage of Atheist Ireland’s complaint