The Editor of an influential Conservative website has urged MPs and Peers to look “very critically” at plans for controversial Extremism Disruption Orders (EDOs).
Writing for Conservative Home, Paul Goodman noted that both The Christian Institute and The National Secular Society have criticised EDOs. He wrote “this combination is so unusual as to make the rest of us sit up and take notice”.
Goodman reiterated his message that, “there is a balance to be struck between measures that could perhaps provide greater security against terrorists, but would certainly compromise the civil liberties of everyone else”.
He criticised the vague wording of EDOs and the fact that the legislation seeks to outline what constitutes hate speech, which is “something of a moveable feast”.
Goodman wrote: “Is the Catholic teacher who tells her pupils the church’s view of marriage a homophobe?”
He added: “Intentions are one thing. But words are another. And an Act of Parliament is made of words.
“MPs and Peers should therefore look very critically at EDOs when the Bill eventually arrives.”
Slew of cases
Last week, Professor John Charmley of the University of East Anglia, warned that EDOs could target Christians, Jews and Muslims over their beliefs about marriage.
Charmley argued that churches have already experienced pressure to accept “new norms” such as the redefinition of marriage.
In an article in the Catholic Herald, he also drew attention to what has happened recently to some street preachers: “There has been a slew of cases where men preaching from the New Testament have found their collars being felt by the police.”
Referring to the Conservative Party’s push for EDOs, he concluded:
“They may say they are coming for the ‘extremist’ Muslims, but recent experience suggests it will be the Evangelical street preachers, then the anti-abortion protestors, followed by the teachers who maintain orthodox Christian, Jewish and Islamic teaching about the nature of marriage.
“If we do not protest now, who will protest when they come for us?”