Christian freedoms threatened by 'broad' extremism definition

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A new definition of extremism may lead to a “clampdown” on Christian beliefs, The Christian Institute has warned.

The government is reportedly planning to introduce a new definition that will include attempts to “undermine British values”. 

The Times reported this week that a new definition is being drawn up by Communities Secretary Michael Gove following the Prime Minister’s pledge to tackle “acts of violence” against Jews and Muslims. Under the plans, extremists will be unable to access venues or public funding.

Christian MP Miriam Cates is among the critics who have expressed concerns about the plans. Writing on X, she said it would be a “slippery slope towards the abolition of fundamental freedoms”. 

“What does it even mean to ‘undermine British values’ when there is no consensus – and certainly no legal definition – of what those values are?” she said. 

“Worth noting that attempts to enforce ‘British values’ in schools have led to a woke crusade where what many consider to be ‘extremist’ views on sex, gender & race have taken precedence over biological & historical fact and where teachers & pupils are frightened to speak out.”

The Christian Institute has warned against a “broad” definition, fearing its impact on religious freedom.

The organisation’s Deputy Director Ciarán Kelly said, “Legitimate attempts to tackle violence on our streets must never pave the way to banning opinions which are deemed unpopular or old-fashioned.

“All too often, new measures against terrorism or extremism end up endangering rather than protecting religious freedom. We saw this only too well when Ofsted inspectors investigating ‘British Values’ threatened to close Jewish schools if they didn’t teach children about same-sex marriage.

“This may not have been intended, but sadly it was the result. No innocent person, Christian or otherwise, should be endangered by vague legislation which threatens our historic liberties of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.”

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