Government inspectors could monitor Sunday schools, church youth groups and even choirs to ensure they are teaching so-called “British values”, in a move Christians have dubbed “profoundly insulting”.
The potential measures by school inspection group Ofsted have been described as “the kind of thing they do in China” by the Christian Institute, who say Christians are more likely to be victims of extremism.
The British government is currently trying to root out extremism in the British education system following concerns that about that Islamists are indoctrinating children. In a bid to avoid appearing Islamophobic, however, the government is trying to extend anti-extremism measures to all groups that teaching children, including Christian groups.
Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute told the Daily Mail: “It’s profoundly insulting to suggest that churches might be radicalising children, because that’s not what Christians are.
“Christians are law-abiding, they support democracy and they’re taught to love their neighbour. In fact they’re much more likely to be victims of extremism.”
“It’s a very serious business,” he added, “And regulating the activities and teachings of churches – that’s the kind of thing they do in China. I did not think it was the kind of thing the United Kingdom government would ever try to do.”
Since Islamists tried to infiltrate state schools in the city of Birmingham in the so-called “Trojan horse” scandal, the government has insisted that all schools teach “British values”, including “democracy” and “tolerance”.
The definition of “tolerance” is causing concern, however, with fears traditional Christian beliefs on sexual morality may be labelled ‘intolerant’ and prohibited.
The government’s plans will apply to any educational programme given to under-19 year olds for six or more hours a week.
Earlier this year, one Christian school was forced to close after inspectors labelled students bigots. Ofsted wrote in their report: “Leaders are failing to prepare students for life in modern Britain. Some students hold discriminatory views of other people who have different faiths, values or beliefs from themselves.”
This appears to be based on an interview with one 12-year-old boy who made a reference to terrorism when asked about Muslims.
“It feels like the school has been made a scapegoat. Durham is primarily white British so knowledge of other cultures is not as prevalent. But I don’t think the children are bigoted,” said Petrina Douglas, a parent governor.
A Department for Education spokesman said: “We are consulting on new rules that would require out-of-school groups to register with us, to protect children from harm. There would be no inspections unless specific concerns were raised.”