Could Sunday School Raids in Britian Be Around the Corner?
British Christians fear a government proposal to curb Islamic extremism will affect religious liberty for churches.
British Prime Minister David Cameron announced a five-year plan last year to weed out growing Islamic extremism among Muslim youth. However, many fear the unclear language in the plan may allow the government to target Christian Sunday schools and youth groups.
The proposal comes two years after the British government investigated reports that radical Muslims plotted to overtake and radicalize the Birmingham public school system.
The government responded to the threat by mandating that the education curriculum must incorporate the British values of "democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs."
According to an article in Christianity Today, the Evangelical Alliance United Kingdom called the plan to monitor the education of religious youth a "fundamental threat to religious liberty."
The proposal requires that all religious groups and institutions register their children's activities and allow government officials to visit for inspection if they meet for six hours or more a week.
Simon McCrossman, the EAUK's head of public policy, calls the rise of radical Islam in Europe "a very real problem" and supports "strong safeguarding measures" against violent extremism, the CT article said.
However, McCrossman later contended "these proposals will fail to tackle the problems and instead stifle the work that churches and faith-based organizations do with children and young people across the U.K."
The Head of the Office for Standards in Education, Children's services, and Skills (Ofsted), recently told a London radio station that although Islamic extremist schools are the targets, other religious groups will be added "to do this in an even-handed way."
The proposal will require Sunday schools and youth groups to register their activities with the government and open their groups to safeguarding inspections if they meet for six hours or more each week.
Prime Minister Cameron promises that as long as the group meetings do not last more than six hours, they will not be raided.
Labor MP Stephens argued last week that the "measure would, in effect, make Ofsted the state regulator of religion," according to CT.
The EAUK addressed its concerns about incorporating British political values in children's education in a letter to the UK Secretary of State. Although affirming that the Christian community has highly contributed to Britain's national identity and values, the EAUK contended the policy imposes "across the board secularist politically correct 'values.'"
The EAUK added that it is concerned that educators, parents, and students must promote these politically correct values whether or not they agree with them.
British Christians are concerned that this new policy will limit their religious freedoms and promote an already rising antagonistic spirit towards Christianity and religious education.