If this woman was looking for someone to prove her point, she found it.
The Royal Commonwealth Society barred a well-known Roman Catholic commentator from attacking intolerance towards Christians at its annual carol service.
Cristina Odone, a writer and editor on religion, was to be one of the “celebrity readers” at a service in St Martin in the Fields church in central London next month, which is attended by diplomats and politicians.
She intended to speak about how secularists are intolerant of those of faith. But she was told that those words were inappropriate and then told she couldn’t speak.
“I am incandescent,” said Odone after being told that the words she had written were “not appropriate because the congregation would include people of little or no faith who presumably would be upset. Even more insultingly, I was asked instead to read a passage from Bertrand Russell, a militant atheist.”
She developed the theme of secular intolerance towards believers of all faiths, from the British Airways worker suspended for wearing a cross to the Muslim schoolgirl banned from wearing the veil.
“When it comes to expressing their faith, this country’s believers have found that opportunities are blocked,” Ms Odone wrote. “Whether it is the boss at work or the head at school, the local authority or the chattering classes, people of faith know that their worldview is under siege, and their allegiances under suspicion.
“To parade this allegiance by wearing a cross, a cap or a veil is red rag to the secularist bull. What little opportunity believers have to bear witness to their faith is being quashed. If you are black or gay or female, your plea for equal opportunity is met with respect, and your campaign is applauded by supporters. But not if you are a believer. In a culture increasingly hostile to God and his followers, expressions of faith have become taboo. The only opportunity we have is for silence.”
Stuart Mole, the director-general of the society, an educational charity that promotes the Commonwealth and whose patron is the Queen, told her the script was not acceptable.
He said it did not fit in with the overall theme of the readings, adding: “We also need to be mindful of the congregation, which will probably include quite a few drawn by the occasion and by the carols but who do not hold a deep (or even a shallow) faith.”
Yesterday Ms Odone said: “I think there is a tremendous move to down play this country’s Christian heritage, to silence, ridicule and marginalise religious belief…They have shown precisely the kind of intolerance and disapproval of Christianity that I am talking about.”
Mr Mole (You gotta’ love that name) said he was “deeply sorry” Ms Odone felt unable to participate in the service but the tone of her script was too polemical for a “multi-faith” carol service.
This is such a perfect example of prejudice against Christians. But there is little outcry over this. I hate to be a pessimist but I fear this is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.