Proposed legislation leaked to the media outlines how the United Kingdom government plans to oversee religious leaders and their messages.
“If the reports are accurate, what the government is proposing turns the clock back on religious freedom more than 300 years,” said Ciaran Kelly, a spokesman for the Christian Institute.
“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,” Kelly said in an institute report Tuesday. “We don’t want to go back to those darker days of religious intolerance.”
“Imams, priests, rabbis and other religious figures will have to enroll in a ‘national register of faith leaders’ and be subject to government-specified training and security checks in the Home Office’s latest action on extremism,” he reported.
“The highly controversial proposal appears in a leaked draft of the government’s new counter-extremism strategy, seen by The Telegraph, which goes substantially further than previous versions of the document.”
He explained the government will demand “all faiths to maintain a national register of faith leaders,” which will be subject to “the minimum level of training checks.”
“Registration will be compulsory for all faith leaders who wish to work with the public sector, including universities, the document says. In practice, most faith leaders have some dealings with the public sector and the requirement will cover the great majority,” he reported.
Kelly explained in a statement from the institute, “They mean that Christian leaders invited to speak to a university Christian Union would be required to go on a government approved training scheme before being allowed to speak to students.
“This is a truly sinister proposal more in keeping with China or North Korea than a democracy built on the freedoms of Magna Carta,” he said. “We would ask the government to think again and drop these dangerous plans immediately.”
The plan reportedly defines extremism, the apparent target, as the “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and the mutual respect of tolerance of different faiths and beliefs.”
“This sounds unworkable and reads like too strong state intervention,” said Rabbi Neil Janes of the West London Synagogue, according to the institute.
The U.K. government already has been criticized for its “Extremism Disruption Orders,” which measure behavior it assesses to undermine “British values.”
The Telegraph report said the plan would be opposed by the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board.
And a spokesman for the Catholic church said it had not been consulted on the proposals.
Other senior Catholic sources said any plan for state supervision of priests would be “firmly resisted.”
The Telegraph said the primary target appears to be Islamic extremism. The paper cited the “Trojan Horse” scandal in Rotherham in which Muslim leaders were trying to take over control of local schools.
Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2015/09/government-plans-regulation-of-faith-leaders/#i7kDZqOQKTuyOK46.99