Evangelical Christians have been labelled extremist, and likened to “totalitarian Muslims” by a senior government advisor.
Alan Judd, an advisor to the Secretary of State for Education, was commenting on recent free school applications by Evangelical Christians.
Mr Judd’s comments were strongly refuted by the Evangelical Alliance, which said the comments demonstrate a “woeful lack of religious understanding at the heart of government”.
Steve Clifford, General Director of the Evangelical Alliance, said: “It is wrong and worrying that a senior government advisor brands evangelical Christians as extremist.
“There are approximately 2 million evangelical Christians in the UK, the fastest growing part of the church worldwide. They take their faith seriously, but that does not make them extremist.”
Commenting on the news, the ConservativeHome blog highlighted that evangelical Christians were also often misrepresented by the media and portrayed as horrendous bigots or murdering lunatics.
Mr Judd, writing in The Telegraph last month, said: “To ban believers from setting up free schools would be to exclude a large number of able, well-meaning and experienced people who can do much to raise levels generally”.
“The trouble is, as always, when it’s taken to extremes, whether it’s evangelical Christians, totalitarian Muslims or segregationist Jews.
“Such applications need careful vetting, not because there shouldn’t be far-out religious and ideological beliefs, but because the taxpayer shouldn’t pay to propagate them – and because children should be able to participate in a wider society without having their horizons narrowed by fundamentalism.”
In 2004 the Home Secretary at the time, David Blunkett, drew criticism when he equated evangelical Christians with Islamic terrorists.
Mr Blunkett was controversially proposing to create a new criminal offence of inciting religious hatred.
He argued society needed protection from “…those who would take our lives because they reject our faith, and it applies equally from far right evangelical Christians, to extremists in the Islamic faith.”