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MP calls for counter extremism consultation extension on behalf of Christians

Thu 17 Dec 2015
By Marcus Jones

Christian MP Fiona Bruce has called on the government to extend its consultation on controversial new anti-extremism laws.

Many Christian groups claim the proposals could seriously affect Christians and Christian organisations volunteering with young people.

The plans would see anyone providing teaching to children for over six hours a week face Ofsted inspections. It's claimed this would include church weekends away, beach missions, summer camps, and church youth groups.

The government's asked groups and individuals to give feedback through a consultation. It was launched at the start of Advent and finishes on January 11. Fiona Bruce, the member for Congelton, says it's not right that the consultation was set for the busiest time of the year for Christians.

Speaking after calling for the extension, she said: "These proposals could seriously restrict the work of many Christians and churches. The idea that Ofsted inspectors are equipped to inspect and judge youth Bible groups, beach missions, or Christian summer camps is absurd. The Government has not properly thought through these proposals, and needs to go back to the drawing board.

"We have often seen that traditional Christian teachings can be wrongly sanctioned by local officials who are unfamiliar with Christianity, and that makes me very worried about what would happen if we start having Ofsted inspectors inside churches and observing beach missions looking for issues.

"Clearly, the Government do not think that local church youth groups and Christian summer camps are linked to radicalisation and extremism - yet these proposals would, perhaps unintentionally, waste a huge amount of time and money looking for just that."

The MP is calling on Christians to respond to the consultation. She said: "The Government consultation provides an opportunity for Christians to raise their serious concerns with the Government.

"If you are involved in voluntary work with children, in any capacity, please do take the time to fill out the Government's consultation. If we don't make our voice heard, we cannot stop these proposals."

The proposals are part of plans to tackle radicalisation in the UK. Home Secretary Theresa May said the government wants to "systematically confront and challenge extremist ideology" and stop those who spread hate.

The government is yet to respond to her request.

Listen to Fiona Bruce speaking to Hannah Tooley on Premier's News Hour.

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