Clare Balding, a non-religious lesbian, to host Radio 2′s Sunday religious programme

The BBC have appointed Clare Balding, a non religious lesbian, to replace the Christian Aled Jones as the host of its Radio 2 religious programme, Good Morning Sunday. Clare Balding is a vocal supporter of gay marriage, and has expressed her hopes of ‘marrying’ former BBC announcer, Alice Arnold.  The BBC made the announcement through the Radio Times:

‘Olympic and Paralympic presenter Clare Balding has been announced as the new host of Radio 2’s weekly faith programme Good Morning Sunday. The show – currently presented by Daybreak’s Aled Jones – is broadcast every Sunday morning and features guests, topical discussion of ethical and religious issues and spiritual music. 41-year-old Balding – who was recently hailed by critics and viewers for her consummate broadcasting during London 2012 – will take over from Jones when he departs in January.’

‘Controller of BBC Radio 2 and 6 Music, Bob Shennan, added: “Clare is a much-loved, top quality live broadcaster who thrives on engaging with people from all walks of life. I’m sure she will be a big hit on the show as we continue to embrace the rich mix of faith and spirituality that Good Morning Sunday listeners know and love.’

Even The Tablet seem surprised by this appointment:

‘Balding is an unlikely choice, given that she does not appear to have made much of her faith or religious background in the past. She is best known for her coverage of sport – particularly horse racing – and the swimming at last summer’s London Olympic Games. Jones, on the other hand, has spoken openly of his Christian faith.’

Clare Balding has given a preview to The Gaurdian  of the content she plans to introduce to radio 2′s Good Morning Sunday:

She’s about to start presenting Good Morning Sunday as well, a topical faith and religion programme on Radio 2, which she takes over from Aled Jones later this month. The established format sounds a bit staid until Balding starts discussing it. She declares an interest in “everything!”, and gives pagans as an example. Also cults, leylines, Mormons, Presbyterians, Baptists, Quakers, Muslims, Hindus. During a 10-minute discussion of the programme’s potential content, she moves from the Osmond family to ancient Greece, Germaine Greer’s views on Justin Bieber, a walk she once took with a druid, everyday saints, the startling nature of 3D cinema, a depressing country song about a mastectomy, a neuroscientist’s near-death experience, and shows me a picture of her dog, Archie, a Tibetan terrier.

She was confirmed in the Church of England while at school, but doesn’t really consider herself a part of any organised religion now. “I think I can be spiritual, and I can feel that I want to live well, I want to do things that I’m proud of, and I think that’s important. Now, do I need a church to tell me that? Actually, no, I don’t … It makes me sound really worthy,” – she adopts a muppety voice – “‘I want to be a really good person,’ but actually I want to think about the decisions I make, and make the right ones.”

We go back to religion, and she says she was surprised when the laity voted against allowing women bishops last year. “I don’t understand the fear. I don’t understand why women can’t be part of organised religion.” When I ask her about gay marriage and the church, she moves swiftly to the C of E decision that gay men in civil partnerships can become bishops – but only if they don’t have sex. The Reverend Richard Coles, who is in a celibate relationship, is due to appear on her show, “an openly gay man who is also a reverend, very publicly, who really believes in the job that he does and obviously has a very strong faith. Why should he be marginalised? It’s the same thing as it is for women. What’s the fear? Prejudice is based on fear and ignorance. What disappoints me is the focus on sex, because you never ask a straight couple what they do in bed. That is not the point. The point is a commitment to each other, a love for each other, a trust in each other, a supporting of each other.”

Balding has been in a relationship with Arnold , a broadcaster and journalist, for more than a decade, and they became civil partners in 2006. She thinks to be truly equal, marriage and civil partnership should be available to straight and gay couples. “Why not say, here’s your choice, you can either be civilly partnered, which is a bit of a mouthful – we can come up with something sexier, hopefully – or you can be married; which would you rather? Then it’s up to everybody. To me, that’s equality. The defenders of the institution of marriage who say [gay marriage] is the most dangerous thing that has ever happened to marriage … well, I think probably divorce was. And given that the Church of England started because the king wanted to get divorced, it’s an odd position to take. My point is that if you want to live in a world where people are kind and generous and look after each other, you want to encourage more people to commit to each other on a level basis.” She says it’s important to have a relationship recognised publicly, “and that is not about it being in the papers,” she qualifies quickly. “It’s about being able to say, this is my civil partner.”

Protect the Pope comment:  It isn’t a co-incidence that BBC have appointed a prominent lesbian proponent of gay marriage just as David Cameron’s government is about to publish its same sex marriage legislation.  Her interview in The Guardian with its rag bag of New Age fluff reveals how uninformed and unsuited she is to present one of the rare slots allocated by the BBC to religious broadcasting. It’s not hard to imagine that the BBC will next be announcing that Stephen Fry is to front Songs of Praise.



41 comments to Clare Balding, a non-religious lesbian, to host Radio 2′s Sunday religious programme

  • Even by BBC standards, this is taking the mickey!!

  • Rifleman819

    All ,
    What you don’t know is that Balders has linked up with Tina Beattie to present wimmin’s roadshows to female Muslim worshippers in Luton , Bradford and Oldham…..something on the lines of ” Arabian nights….(Stephen) Fry’s Turkish why wear the hijab or suffer female circumsion?”
    Also going out on all BBC World Service and local Asian networks and Wimmin’s Hour on R4.
    I somehow don’t think so , do you?

  • John Dare

    You need to lose the persecution complex boyz and girls.

    • Spesalvi23

      Well, it’s not like you have anything to worry about.
      You’re quite safe on the grey area.

    • Rifleman819

      John ,

      They said that sort of thing to Viennese rabbis in 1932.Not many of them left a few years later , were there?
      You’re a lovely lad but those rose-tints in your specs can lead to unforeseen conclusions and unforeseen consequences.
      The whole agenda will be to promulgate the gay marriage in church law in the UK -Then there will be a ECHR test case to extend it to all Christian denominations on the grounds of “discrimination”…exactly as per the Christian hoteliers.
      But our lobby friends probably haven’t got the b*lls to try it on with mosques.If they do ….I’m willing to bet they soon won’t have any b*lls left at all.

      • John Dare

        The thing is John, discrimination cases lead to fines. Not jackbooted bully boys kicking Jews in the street.

        • Rifleman819

          John ,
          Almost correct …but not quite.They started with fines….and ended with Dachau.
          Read Martin Niemoller’s (1892-1984)iconic poem “First they came ……”
          It says it better than I could ever do.

          • John Dare

            I know the poem, and it wouldn’t surprise me if foxhunters quoted it too. This is not a country that has lost a major war, suffered crippling penalties, revolution and loss of political nerve. Mosely tried walking through the east end and got a kicking.

  • Peter Newton

    In addition, Sunday Half Hour moves from 8:30 pm to 6:00 am (yes 6:00 am). How long before it is killed off as so few people listen to it? Sorry, forgot the good news, the programme will be half an hour longer, which makes it a ‘good thing’. I think?


    The only people taking the mickey are those who seem to thrive on bigotry and nastiness. God forgive you.

  • Karla

    I reccomend EWTN radio

    • Dr Mark Thorne

      I agree with Karla’s commendation here – I find EWTN is excellent, so why bother with the BBC? The BBC certainly isn’t my first port of call when I’m seeking informed religious commentary on a particular issue, because I know that they are unable to provide it. That said, I thought that Ms Balding did do a very competent and professional job for the BBC during the Olympic swimming events, and so would give her the benefit of the doubt initially, even though it must be said questions do legitimately need to be raised concerning her suitability for such a programme.

  • Joseph Matthew

    ” I think, I feel, I need…” Did others note the number of ” I, Me, Mine’s ” in her sentences ? Just goes to show that there is more than a whiff of narcicism going on here.
    Let’s ask an expert about it- Stephen Fry perhaps ?

  • Simon31019

    Some thoroughly nasty comments here.

  • James M

    BBC have jumped the shark

  • Gurn

    Well this is hardly surprising considering it’s the BBC.

    • John Dare

      There’s an old saying, ‘speak as you find’, so maybe giving the lass a fair crack would be the right thing. While I’m on, what the fourx has being a lesbian got to do with her suitability to be a radio presenter?

      • Rifleman819

        John ,
        Absolutely nothing …but despite a good 2.1 from Cambridge in English her background knowledge of religion (of all stripes) is as extensive as mine is of neuro-surgery or civil engineering.

        • John Dare

          I think Nick is maybe the one to answer the lesbian query Rif. As for use of degrees, Most of the theology students in the UK do not become vicars. A degree can be used in your career, or it can ( and mainly is) used to show that you have some brains.

          I don’t have one.

          • Deacon Nick Donnelly

            Clare Balding’s interview in The Guardian about her Radio 2 job mentions, in depth, her lesbianism, so obviously The Guardian think her lesbianism will play an important part in her presenting this religious programme, for example in the way she covers the issue of gay marriage. That is why. Deacon Nick

          • Rifleman819

            John ,
            Never raised ‘owt about the gel’s preferences, actually…just about her knowledge and expertise on religion.We could have the Gov of the Bank of England on Countryfile, Michael Portillo on offshore sailing , then Fiona Bruce on murder trials at the Old Bailey etc etc.
            But Deacon Nick is making the very obvious point that Clare Balding’s new post is not unconnected to her sexuality.
            It is certainly not pure coincidence.

          • John Dare

            Yup, as follows:

            ‘The Reverend Richard Coles, who is in a celibate relationship, is due to appear on her show, “an openly gay man who is also a reverend, very publicly, who really believes in the job that he does and obviously has a very strong faith. Why should he be marginalised? It’s the same thing as it is for women. What’s the fear? Prejudice is based on fear and ignorance. What disappoints me is the focus on sex, because you never ask a straight couple what they do in bed. That is not the point. The point is a commitment to each other, a love for each other, a trust in each other, a supporting of each other.’

            Thats her POV, but I’m still not to clear why it was important enough for you to make it a big part of your headline, which deals with her new job.

          • Sam Mace

            I’ve no idea why you think her lesbianism is important? There are plenty of lesbians with strong religious convictions and not all religions condemn lesbianism. Of course the non faith aspect is relatively valid, however as long as she presents fair arguments and discussion what is the problem? By the way Deacon Nick, this is why people think you have a problem with gay people, it isn’t for your ‘defence’ of marriage and your view of what marriage is but for the fact that in many stories which have nothing to do with someones sexuality like this one you make a point of it.

  • Karla

    It is common sense that it is not right to have a Muslim present a Christian show, a Christian present an atheist show etc and a non religious person to present a show about religion, it is not appropriate

      • Andrzej

        One of the reasons, John, is that we listen to such shows not just to get informed, but also to get inspired.

        As an analogy, imagine that you have just discovered a taste for Renaissance Italian art. You go to your local university’s continuing education centre and can choose from two professors who teach the intro courses in this subject. One is well known for his love and admiration of Renaissance Italian, the other is just as well known for despising and mocking it in his books and essays. Certainly, both can be expected to teach the course in a professional way – that’s what they are being paid for – but who would you rather listen to?

  • Rifleman819

    For John Dare,
    John ,
    Funny that you mentioned Martin Niemoller and foxhunters.Do you remember all the soft-soap stuff about cruelty to animals.When the bill became law its promoters admitted that the welfare of Monsieur Fox was a red herring (Foxes and fish , EH-Where’s this leading…!?)….all they wanted to do was make it a “class” thing.

  • John Dare

    Or, Alan Titchmarsh talks about Royals, but hes not Royal.

    I take your poimt, but hosting a show on the beeb isn’t quite the same.

  • Rifleman819

    John ,

    Don’t you ever take my point! It’s Mine! And I love it!

    Seriously…………..You remember that you defined yourself as a “cultural Christian”….and your post about the gay Reverend.That goes to the heart of things…..relativism.

    “X is relatively alright because we in this generation think it is ok.”,…but that sort of statement …at the core of today’s society and “rights” instantly starts up an unstable universe.
    We now have absolutely no consensus about anything in current civil society…..if we all do our own thing -look what happens.
    The Catholic church either repels or attracts precisely because it teaches absolutes-what is right and what is wrong.
    The current Catholic problem in the UK is that there are many who enjoy the tribal label -yet want to undermine it from within.
    And the vehemence of the gay lobby against the Church is a grim testament to this.They know they cannot win..St.Paul told them that 20 centuries ago.
    But-say 2% of the population is over-represented in all aspects of the media…is exceptionally skilled at lobbying and can be devious and manipulative and that in truth is exactly what is happening.
    This grouping thinks it has Christianity on the backfoot but is loathe to confront Islam .But it is coming soon, I believe,..that inevitable clash whereby Equality and Diversity meets Multiculturalism.
    And that clash will happen on the streets.

  • John Dare

    I’m old enough to remember when being gay was illegal and pretty dangerous in some situations. The world has moved on since then, for the worse in some ways, for the better in many others (in my opinion).

    I also remember when there were a lot of strict norms, again they’re going or being replaced. On balance a good thing. The days of ‘know your place’ should die a decent death.

    So, yes, overall I have no problems with relativism.

  • Robs

    Must admit I felt bit uncomfortable with this decision, even though she is a very good broadcaster. Just another dumbing down of Christianity in this country? However, I’ve often heard this prog discuss many other faiths when I have tuned in – then I switch off………………!

  • John Hughes

    See ‘Aled’s GMS RIP’

    and Please add your name if you disagree with Aled being replaced on Good morning Sunday

  • John Hughes

    My post has disappeared.

    Has it been moderated and if so why please?


  • John Hughes

    (It’s reappeared, thanks.)

    Another link you might like to click relating to Radio 2 and BBC’s decision to terminate Aled Jones’ time presenting Radio 2′s Good Morning Sunday:

  • P Alot

    I think Ms Balding sounds very sensible. What a pity there is so much persecution here, it makes me very sad.

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