Welcome to the non-religious Christmas Carol Service

You couldn’t make it up could you?

The Royal Commonwealth Society is at the centre of an embarrassing row after it barred a well-known Roman Catholic commentator from attacking intolerance towards Christians at its annual carol service.

Cristina Odone, the former deputy editor of the New Statesman, was to be one of the “celebrity readers” at the service in St Martin in the Fields church in central London next month, which is attended by diplomats and politicians.

But she has pulled out of the event, accusing the society of demonstrating exactly the kind of intolerance she had planned to criticise.

“I am incandescent,” she said. “I was told that the words I 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.”

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 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.

Did I read that last sentence right? Lets just check.

Mr Mole 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.

“A multi-faith carol service”. Multi-faith.




Pray do tell, what is a multi-faith Christmas Carol service? Readings from the Quran that deny Jesus’ divinity? A Hindu mantra as the offertory hymn? Some Raelian “prayer” for the blessing? What next – a Commonwealth Society sponsored inter-denominational Hajj with a Eucharist in Mecca and Medina?

It seems to me that the Commonwealth Society have completely missed the point of what Christmas is about. Good for Christina Odone for being so vocal on this.

1 Comment on “Welcome to the non-religious Christmas Carol Service

  1. I’ll bet once Cristina Odone’s luminosity reached candescent levels, she went to her next mass ever jubilant that she’s a Catholic. They still mandate the existence of God as a dogma of faith. God knows — literally — Anglicans don’t (qua Anglicans — of course most do believe in God, but they understand they mustn’t impose that belief on all those who consider themselves Anglican). Anglicans don’t do dogma. That a Catholic/Orthodox thing. Not Anglican, heavens no! That’s not very inclusive! Betrand Russell would have made a splendid 21st century Anglican had he lived to see it!

    A Bertrand Russell reading for people militantly of no faith. At St Martin in the Fields. Ah bless ’em. I’ll bet most of those gathered were tourists. Funny how this sort of thing is one of the best tools for Catholic Evangelisation there is!

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