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?”