MP: We should promote Bible teaching to kids, not restrict it

Thu, 21 Jan 2016

The UK should be “promoting, celebrating and encouraging” Christian children’s work rather than restricting it, an MP has said in a Parliamentary debate.

Steve Double, Conservative MP for St Austell and Newquay, said children who attend Sunday schools or other Christian events are often inspired to help others as a result.

And challenging the Government over its proposals that could see Ofsted checking on church youth work, he said thousands of volunteers should not be tied up with “unwarranted bureaucracy”.

Bible teaching

Speaking yesterday, Double argued: “We should be promoting the teaching of the Bible to our children, not seeking to restrict it, because the results of that produce an awful lot of good.”

The Government has proposed introducing a nationwide registration scheme for any out-of-school setting providing instruction to under 19-year-olds for more than six hours in any week.

Double, who worked for a church and ran his own business before becoming an MP, was speaking at a Westminster Hall debate where over 20 other MPs also spoke out against the plans.

Where are the Sunday school teachers who seek to inspire and incite young people to join terrorist organisations?Steve Double MP

‘Very bad evidence’

Commenting that Government ministers were in danger of “making a bad decision based on very bad evidence”, he asked: “Where are the Sunday school teachers who seek to inspire and incite young people to join terrorist organisations?

“I suggest there is no evidence whatever to impose such restrictions on Sunday schools and other church groups.”

Double, who was first elected as an MP in 2015, said: “We are in danger of applying onerous restrictions on the many to address the actions of a few. That is the wrong thing to do.”

He said that the Government is “trying to walk a tightrope on this issue to appear even-handed”, but he added, “we need to be clear about where the source of the threat comes from”.

Sacrificed

Double said that when young people go to Christian events and camps – as a result of the teaching they receive – “they often find not just faith but a mission in life to go and serve humanity”.

“That is something we should be promoting, celebrating and encouraging, not restricting”.

“In this country, we have already sacrificed too much of our liberty in the name of equality”, Double said.

In this country, we have already sacrificed too much of our liberty in the name of equality.Steve Double MP

‘Proportionate’

The head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, has said that if whistle-blowers raise concerns about registered settings, such as Sunday schools, inspectors will go in.

However, Prime Minister David Cameron has said he does not intend to cover Sunday schools and summer camps in the scheme.

Mr Cameron said that the Government has held “productive” discussions with the Church of England and other faith groups to make sure that the system will be “targeted” and “proportionate”.