Originally published in The Christian Institute
Christians preaching the Gospel could be caught by upcoming extremism legislation, The Christian Institute has warned.
On Tuesday, media reports stated that the Government would announce its extremism Bill in the Queen’s speech on May 18.
Responding to the news, The Christian Institute said the Government’s definitions are open to abuse.
Simon Calvert, the Institute’s Deputy Director for Public Affairs, said: “The Government talks about tackling extremism and preventing people promoting hatred”.
He continued: “If those words had their ordinary meaning Christians would have nothing to worry about, but unfortunately they don’t.
“People routinely use the word ‘extremist’ to label Christians, and they often falsely accuse them of hatred.”
Preach the Gospel
He added: “If you put those two words into a statute how can you be sure they won’t be interpreted in that same overly broad way to capture innocent Christians simply going about the business of preaching the Gospel”?
Speaking to Christian Today, Mr Calvert highlighted the Government’s push for ‘British values’, saying that when ministers use the phrase, “it seems to mean gay rights”.
“Trying to force Christians to sign up to LGBT rights won’t do anything to stop Islamist terrorists murdering innocent civilians”, he concluded.
Defend Free Speech
The Christian Institute has been working with a number of free speech groups including Big Brother Watch and Index on Censorship to campaign against the Government’s plans.
The Defend Free Speech campaign has consistently warned against Extremism Disruption Orders (EDOs), which are expected to be part of the extremism Bill.
The campaign says EDOs will “restrict the activities of people the Government thinks are engaged in ‘extreme activities’ – even if they have not broken the law”.
In July last year a former head of MI5, Lord Evans, said that the plans to curb extremism could hit Christian street preachers.