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Journalist Discovers a Pervasive "New Intolerance"

Editor's Note: This article excerpt was published in The New Statesman, a British magazine described as "left of center." Cristina Odone is the former deputy editor for The New Statesman.

I was invited to speak at a conference on marriage last summer, to be held at the Law Society in London … The conference was a chance for supporters of traditional marriage to contribute to the debate … The title, "One Man. One Woman. Making the Case for Marriage for the Good of Society," could hardly have sounded more sober. I accepted without a second thought.

A few days before the conference, the sponsors of the event [rang me and said that] the Law Society had refused to let us meet on their premises. The theme was "contrary to our diversity policy," the society explained in an email to the organizers, "espousing as it does an ethos which is opposed to same-sex marriage." In other words, the Law Society regarded support for heterosexual union … as discriminatory.

Hurriedly, another venue was found in the heart of London, a publicly owned modern building situated across the street from Westminster Abbey … But with only 24 hours to go before the conference, managers at that venue told Christian Concern that the subject it planned to discuss was "inappropriate." The booking was cancelled. When challenged, the centre's chief executive cited its diversity policy as reason for the cancellation. A journalist asked for a copy of the diversity policy. The centre refused to provide it.

By the time I took part in the event, (which had been moved to the basement of a hotel in central London), … [I concluded that] not only Christians, but also Muslims and Jews, increasingly feel they are no longer free to express any belief … that runs counter to the prevailing fashions for superficial "tolerance" and "equality" … Intolerance is [now] state-sanctioned … When it comes to crushing the rights of those who dissent from the new orthodoxy, [public leaders] are in the forefront of the attacks, not the defense.

Possible Preaching Angles: How do Christians find a way to share our convictions without getting angry or defensive? How do we love others and share Christ in the midst of a culture that increasingly marginalizes biblical truth?

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