Planned anti-extremism orders are a “disaster area” both legally and from a religious perspective, a lawyer and theological college Principal has said.
Revd Dr Mike Ovey, who leads Oak Hill Theological College and was formerly a Parliamentary draftsman, said that declaring Jesus is the only way to salvation could fall foul of the plans.
He made the comments to The Daily Telegraph on proposed Extremism Disruption Orders (EDOs) which are set to be part of new legislation.
David Cameron, speaking last month, said the Government will “conclusively turn the page” on a “passively tolerant society” which says “as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone”.
Home Secretary Theresa May was forced to deny last month that EDOs would catch people who do not support same-sex marriage, but concerns about free speech remain.
Dr Ovey commented that the Government is saying, “trust us with your civil liberties”, but “human experience tells us the last thing you ever want to do is trust a government with your civil liberties”.
He criticised the EDOs from a legal perspective, as well as warning that his faith in Jesus Christ could lead to him being branded an ‘extremist’.
“Is a police officer going to listen to me saying that Jesus is the only way in a Muslim part of the East End?
“There is always the argument that it will be OK on the night, yes you might be arrested but you will be released – but there is always the thought that you won’t be.
“The thing with a law like this is that there are going to be some people saying ‘I’m not going to run the risk’ and someone like me who is going to run the risk is going to look more extreme”, he commented.
Dr Ovey added: “As a lawyer I think it is a disaster area and as a Christian believer and teacher I think it is a disaster area.
“There has got be a better way to do it.”
Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, reiterated his concerns about the proposals, saying: “You can’t protect democracy by taking powers which undermine the very foundation of democracy.
“EDOs and banning orders, promulgated in the name of ‘British values’, will fundamentally undermine the key British value of free speech.”