This morning's Sunday talked about Catholic social attitudes, gay marriage, Nigeria, "Islamophobia", the living wage and then gay marriage again.
First up, Catholic matters. (It wouldn't be Sunday if it didn't discuss Catholic matters!). The topic today were the early results of a Vatican survey into Catholic views on social matters. Ed Stourton talked to liberal Catholic commentator Fr Brian D'arcy about it. Ed said "people expect and hope there will be...change" as a result of it, and Fr Brian said "I hope...there could be a better pastoral approach" as a result of it.
Then it was onto the subject of gay marriage in the United States. "We'll hear from Christian conservatives in the United States", Ed said about this section at the start of the programme. Well, so we did, though the report from the BBC's Matt Wells actually split 4:2 against Christian conservatives, with the two conservative voices sandwiched between four liberal voices. One of liberal voices talked of "scary right-wing rhetoric", after which we heard some scary right-wing rhetoric on the issue from a US pastor. (Are they no reasonable-sounding conservative opponents of gay marriage out there?)
Next it was onto Nigeria and another interview with Dr Stephen Davies, the former canon of Coventry Cathedral, who is helping in the attempts to free the abducted schoolgirls there. He was very insistent that the violence there now is not a Christian v Islam thing, merely a political thing as various political forces sponsor Boko Haram to stage anti-Christian attacks to help them in the upcoming elections. He says that many of Boko Haram's original supporters are horrified at its behaviour. Those who merely wanted a return to the pure Islam of the time of Mohammed are beginning to split from it, he said.
More Islam next. A listener email was then read out saying that we should dwell more on "the peaceful side of Islam". Another email was against women bishops.
More Islam next. To mark the start of Ramadam, Sunday invited in Tell Mama's Fiyaz Mughal to talk about his organisation's latest report into "Islamophobic hate crime". Alongside him was Usama Hasan of Quilliam. It was a friendly discussion. Fiyaz said there was a "very large spike" after the murder of Lee Rigby. Dr Hasan accepted that there's been a "rise in Islamophobic hate crime", but - at Ed's invitation - also discussed Muslim-on-Muslim violence, specifically Muslim "extremist" attacks on Muslim "moderates". He's received "serious death threats" himself. Fiyaz agreed that there is "intra-Muslim hate". They then discussed the "symbiosis between far Right" and what Fiyaz described as the "resistance" to it from "small" section of Muslim community. Usama said there's "no such thing as a Muslim community", only "Muslim communities" and that saying otherwise helps the far-right. Fiyaz said that's a "valid" and "fair" point, and agreed that lumping all Muslims together only helps the far-right to smear Muslims.
Then it was onto another familiar Sunday subject - the campaign for a "living wage", specifically "the moral challenges raised by the Archbishop of York's report into the living wage", as part of the Living Wage Commission's campaign. Trevor Barnes reported. We heard a fair range of opinion (3:2 in favour of the living wage), though it was another classic Sunday sandwich - lay out the 'liberal side' first, then give the 'conservatives' a say, then end with the 'liberal side', here in the form of a Slovakian immigrant grateful for the living wage.
Finally it was back to gay marriage (and another Sunday favourite - a good old Anglican row) and an interview with Reverend Andrew Foreshew-Cain, vicar of St Mary with All Souls, who has just defied the Anglican Church and gone through a gay marriage with his long-term partner. Alongside him in the discussion was Alan Wilson, the pro-gay marriage Bishop of Buckingham. Bishop Alan was even more critical of his fellow bishops than Rev Andrew, saying they've "painted themselves into an extraordinary corner", behaved in a way that's "almost like bullying" and done a "a very stupid thing". Bishop Alan was wholly supportive of Rev Andrew. Ed Stourton was obviously aware of how biased this looked so insisted at some length that they had tried to get another bishop to appear but none would do so. [Did it have to be a bishop though?]
Nothing much here then, is there, to undermine Damian Thompson's claim that "Radio 4's Sunday programme offers perhaps the most undiluted liberal bias to be found anywhere on the BBC"?
Still, the sun's shining again (visibly) and the birds are singing and the power drills and loud lawnmowers that make sunny Sundays what they are don't just plug themselves in....