Virtual Voices

No room at the B&B

Religion

Being a Christian schoolteacher, church music enthusiast, and author shouldn't deny you a hotel room. So imagine Douglas Bond's surprise when a routine booking at a London bed-and-breakfast was first accepted, then rejected. A double-check of the online calendar showed that rooms were still open for the necessary days, so he wrote an email query and received a startling reply from the proprietor.

"I kind of think of myself as a total atheist," the proprietor began, and went on to explain that conversations with her Catholic mother were so stressful that she "wouldn't want to inflict this upon a guest." She said that since Bond had indicated that his Christian beliefs took "a very active part in [his] day-to-day life," i.e., stuck out all over him, she couldn't be responsible for anything she might say or do in response. Therefore, the reservation was canceled.

Wow. First of all, any Christian should take heart that even the workaday chore of booking lodgings can communicate one's faith as "a very active part of life." Call it the aroma of Christ. Second, Christians should take a deep breath and say a prayer, as Bond did-not once but several times, as he wrote and rewrote his response. The final email endorsed the innkeeper's right to her opinions and choice of guests-and at the same time raised a polite question: "Do atheists actually believe and practice their own creed of tolerance and diversity, or simply employ the rhetoric?"

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After a couple of days-during which the effort to get a room in Olympics-occupied London must have been a nail-biter-the innkeeper reversed her decision. So off to London, and some potentially interesting conversations.

To Americans, still accustomed to finding Gideon Bibles in hotel rooms, such an experience is unlikely, and as a form of discrimination it's relatively mild. Still, Christians are probably in for similar experiences. Below is a video clip of homeless street preacher being harassed by a gay activist for holding to biblical views (read details about the encounter here, but I warn you that the comment section contains profanity). The invective spilled against Christians on blogs and in comment sections will probably spill out on the sidewalk more and more. Tolerance is not an atheist virtue (the atheist moral code is necessarily brief, if not an oxymoron)-but neither is it an absolute virtue. There's plenty that any given individual will not tolerate, rightly or wrongly. If a Christian finds himself at the wrong end of the tolerance equation for being a Christian, what should he do?

First, rejoice (Matthew 5:12). Next, pray for compassion and wisdom. Finally, engage, putting Christ between you and the offended party. It's Him they're against, not you. It's Christ who is calling them to repent, and Christ they will answer to if they don't. The world will always be against Christ, no matter how moral or even "Christian" it appears. Remember that, and if the world mistakes you for Him, take it as a compliment.

Janie B. Cheaney
Janie B. Cheaney

Janie lives in Missouri, is a columnist for WORLD, writes novels for young adults, and is the author of the Wordsmith creative writing series. She also reviews books at RedeemedReader.com. Follow Janie on Twitter @jbcheaney.

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