Charities urge Govt: ‘Keep out of church youth work’

Christian charities and organisations have urged opposition to the Government’s plans to register and monitor church youth work.

In a joint statement The Christian Institute along with CARE, Christian Concern, Evangelical Alliance and Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship have called for the Government to scrap its controversial out-of-school settings proposals.

The proposals, which have come under heavy fire in recent months, would see schools’ regulator Ofsted carry out ‘British values’ inspections on church youth work, including Sunday schools and holiday Bible clubs.

Civil liberties

Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, said: “Christians are justifiably alarmed at the prospect of Ofsted conducting ‘British values’ inspections of church youth work.

“The freedom to proclaim the Gospel, and indeed our wider civil liberties, must be protected, not undermined in the name of ‘counter-extremism’.”

Representatives from the other organisations also commented.

The freedom to proclaim the Gospel, and indeed our wider civil liberties, must be protected…

Colin Hart

Intolerance

The Government wants to inspect any out-of-school setting in England which provides instruction to children for more than 6 to 8 hours in any week.

This would encapsulate church youth work because children can attend multiple events in one week. One-off events such as holiday Bible clubs would also be counted.

The Prime Minister referred particularly to madrassas when he announced the new approach in October 2015, but said it will apply to an institution “whatever its religion” and added, “if you are teaching intolerance, we will shut you down”.

Last month, a poll found that a majority of MPs believe the Government should scale back or drop the “meddling and intrusive” plans.

Too wide

Two-thirds of MPs (66 per cent) agreed that “while the need to tackle extremism is clear, the proposal defines too widely the activities which would be covered by it”.

This rose to 69 per cent among Conservative MPs. Among all MPs, just one in seven (15 per cent) disagreed.

More than half (55 per cent) of MPs also expressed concern that the proposals for checks by Ofsted could threaten legitimate and reasonable activities.

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