The director of the National Theatre, Nicholas Hytner, has a good article in the Sunday Telegraph.
This autumn the NT is putting on a play about St Paul, the inventor of the religion known as Christianity. Unless, says Hytner, the Religious Hatred Bill is passed and someone tries to prosecute: “I’m not prepared to do seven years in jail for it.”
In its present form, this unnecessary law will represent the most serious threat to freedom of speech since the old Lord Chamberlain’s office, when plays were censored or banned because they didn’t fit in with the Lord Chamberlain’s view of what was “decent” or conducive to public morals. But more than that, it will mark an attack on the values of the freedom of thought and religious tolerance that are the heritage of the Enlightenment. All of us who are not religious fanatics want a free and tolerant society. The history of the last 500 years shows that we cannot achieve a free and tolerant society by ceding ground to religious extremists.