News from Europe

UK Christians express concerns over proposed definition of extremism

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is said to be working on a new definition of the term extremism, and considering a renewed focus on ‘British values’.

The most recent definition was created ten years ago, and it defines extremism as “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values”. The new draft definition consists of three components. To begin with, it defines extremism as the propaganda of an ideology based on intolerance, hatred, or violence that undermines the rights or freedoms of others. Then, it refers to those who weaken the UK’s liberal system of democracy and democratic rights. Finally, it includes those who endorse an environment that allows extremist ideologies.  

This means that groups or individuals thought to be extremists can be excluded from government and council funding and prohibited from working with public bodies.

Ciaran Kelly, Deputy Director of the Christian Institute, expressed his concerns: “The worry lies in words like ‘intolerance’ and ‘hatred. Sadly, today, many Christian views are labelled as such.” He fears the new definition could be a tool to silence dissent, particularly on issues like same-sex marriage or women’s access to certain facilities. I mean, sadly, we live in a day and age where many Christian views are regarded as intolerant or hateful.” People are all too quick to throw these sorts of terms around. So we live in this society where, if you disagree with me, if I’m offended by the sorts of things that you say or believe, whether you say that or not, then that is hateful.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has faced backlash from the Conservatives in regard to the possible disintegration of free speech and religious freedom. He claims that his goal is to prevent extremist organisations from targeting legal expressions of faith. He promises clear guidelines and standards to ensure a balanced approach.

Leave a reply