Report tackles “deeply flawed” government thinking

A new report from Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights has criticised the government’s equation of strong religious beliefs with terrorism. “British values” and the plans to register and inspect Sunday Schools have also come under fire.

Tasked with examining the Government’s planned counter-extremism legislation, the Committee was deeply critical, questioning the need for the plans and claiming that existing legislation already “deals appropriately with those who promote violence.”

Its key attack focuses on the grossly inaccurate equation of strong religious beliefs with terrorism:

“The government’s approach, set out in its Counter-Extremism Strategy, appears to be based on the assumption that there is an escalator that starts with religious conservatism and ends with support for jihadism; and that combating religious conservatism is therefore the starting point in the quest to tackle violence. However, it is by no means proven or agreed that conservative religious views are, in and of themselves, an indicator of, or even correlated with, support for jihadism.”

It warns that the new laws lack coherence and precision and so “could be used indiscriminately against groups who espouse conservative religious views (including evangelical Christians, Orthodox Jews and others), who do not encourage any form of violence.”

It also attacks the vague and increasingly discredited concept of ‘British values’ which has been applied in hostile inspections of Christian schools by Ofsted.

And it questions plans to register and inspect church youth work – the so-called “out-of-school settings” proposals that the Christian Institute has vigorously opposed. The Institute’s Director, Colin Hart, said, “We can give thanks that the Committee, chaired by Harriet Harman MP, has taken such a clear-headed approach on this controversial issue.”

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