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HEART Christian newspaper | April 1, 2020

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A ‘truly sinister’ Government proposal

ONE OF THE STRONGEST signs of a healthy and free society is surely freedom for faith leaders to work within communities without Government control.

In Britain this freedom is now threatened by Orwellian-styled legislation being planned which resembles control of religion in other parts of the world such as China and North Korea.

Under the plans, within counter-extremism legislation being drafted by the Conservative Government, church pastors and other religious leaders working in the public sector will have to sign up to a compulsory ‘national register of faith leaders’ with the Government controlling the ‘minimum levels of training and checks’ needed to join the register. They would be forced to undergo such Government training and security checks to be allowed to continue in their vocation.

The shocking details of the new legislation were leaked to The Sunday Telegraph. The Christian Institute (CI) later called the plans the most extreme attack on religion by a government since the 17th century.

Ciarán Kelly, spokesman for the CI, said: “If the reports are accurate, what the Government is proposing turns the clock back on religious freedom more than 300 years.

“Not since the days of the notorious Test and Corporation Acts have we seen such a concerted attempt by a British Government to restrict religious practice. We don’t want to go back to those darker days of religious intolerance.”

If the plans are approved, a typical scenario would see Christian leaders needing to take part in a Government approved training scheme before speaking to university Christian unions.

“This is a truly sinister proposal more in keeping with China or North Korea than a democracy built on the freedoms of Magna Carta,” added Mr Kelly. “We would ask the Government to think again and drop these dangerous plans immediately.”

Earlier this year, Government plans to create extremism disruption orders (EDOs) in new terror laws were criticised by Sir Jonathan Evans, former head of MI5, who said street preachers could become unwarranted victims ‘out of misplaced zeal.’

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