Christians risk being deemed ‘extremist’ under new definition

14 March 2024

Christians will risk being deemed ‘extremist’ under the government’s new definition of extremism published today.

The new government definition of extremism states:

“Extremism is the promotion or advancement of an ideology based on violence, hatred or intolerance, that aims to:

  1. negate or destroy the fundamental rights and freedoms of others; or
  2. undermine, overturn or replace the UK’s system of liberal parliamentary democracy and democratic rights; or
  3. intentionally create a permissive environment for others to achieve the results in (1) or (2).”

Christians who are pro-life could be seen as being opposed to an assumed ‘fundamental right’ to abortion and thus to be ‘intolerant’ and so extremist.

It is already the case that being anti-abortion is on a Prevent list of ideologies seen as potential signs of extremism.

Christians who are opposed to same-sex ‘marriage’ could also be seen as wishing to “negate to destroy the fundamental rights and freedoms of others” and to be ‘intolerant’.

Gender-critical Christians may be deemed extremist and intolerant for opposing an assumed ‘right to identify’ in a chosen gender.

Christians have already been reported to the government’s counter-terrorism programme for expressing their Christian beliefs.

School chaplain, Rev Dr Bernard Randall was reported to Prevent for preaching a sermon in which he told students that they were free to disagree with LGBT ideology.

Christian teacher, Svetlana Powell was reported to Prevent after saying “God loves you” to a lesbian pupil.

Christianity has been the bedrock for our nation and Christians must be welcomed at the heart of government. By its vague terminology, this definition risks excluding genuine Christians from influencing government policy now or in the future.

Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of Christian Concern said:

“This new definition of extremism is not fit for purpose.

“It is absurd that Christians could be deemed ‘extremist’ for believing in real marriage or for being pro-life.

“Christian Concern has supported Christians who have been referred to Prevent for expressing their Christian beliefs. The new definition of extremism should have ensured that this would not happen again. Sadly, I now expect to see more referrals of Christians to Prevent, not less.”

“The government needs to clarify that ‘fundamental rights’ do not include abortion, same-sex ‘marriage’ or identifying as the opposite sex.

“Without this clarification, Christians who express their legitimate belief that marriage is between a man and a woman would risk being deemed ‘extremist’ by the government.”

“We urge the government to urgently clarify what ‘fundamental rights’ are intended in the definition of extremism.”

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