State Plans to Vet Priests “Sinister” ?

The British government is planning to force all priests, rabbis, imams and other religious figures to enrol on a “national register of faith leaders” in a scheme branded “truly sinister” by Christian campaigners.

Priestcrucifixcollar

The Sunday Telegraph claims the scheme appears in a leaked draft of the government’s new counter-terror proposal. It says that state bureaucrats will “require all faiths to maintain a national register of faith leaders” and that the government will “set out the minimum level of training and checks” registered faith leaders must have.

The plans mark a new level of state intervention in religion and are likely to fuel fears that Christians with traditional beliefs are being slowly criminalised.

All faith leaders who wish to work with the public sector, including schools, universities and hospitals, will have to sign up to the register and undergo government vetting. Given that many priests, imams, rabbis and other figures often have some dealings with the public sector, the register will likely cover the great majority.

The plan has been condemned by the Christian Institute, who said it was “sinister” and “more in keeping with China or North Korea” than a democratic Western society.

A spokesman told Breitbart London: “If the reports are accurate, what the Government is proposing turns the clock back on religious freedom more than 300 years. Not since the days of the notorious Test and Corporation Acts have we seen such a concerted attempt by a British Government to restrict religious practice. We don’t want to go back to those darker days of religious intolerance.”

He added that the proposals would mean a Christian minister would not be allowed to visit a member of his congregation in hospital, nor address a university Christian Union, without having been on a government-approved training scheme.

“It marks a deeply concerning attempt by the State to interfere with religious practice.

“The Government are proposing an Orwellian watch list of Reverends and Rabbis, who are to be told which state values they must espouse before being allowed to speak about their religion.”

There are already fears that the government’s plans to tackle Islamist fundamentalism could lead to traditional Christians being branded “extremists”.

The Durham Free School, a Christian faith school in north east England, was forced to close this year after inspectors branded children “bigots” for not knowing what a Muslim was. The inspection report concluded: “Leaders are failing to prepare students for life in modern Britain. Some students hold discriminatory views of other people who have different faiths, values or beliefs from themselves.”

Breitbart London reported last month that Welsh Minister for Education Huw Lewis wanted to remove Christianity from the country’s state schools. He told the Welsh Assembly: “My contention would be that we rename the [religious education] curriculum and transform it into the religion, philosophy and ethics element of the curriculum – where there is an explicit commitment to allowing children to ponder ideas around ethics and citizenship and what it means to be a citizen of a free country.”

Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education told Breitbart London last month that such a move would be a big mistake: “The British government has a new agenda called ‘British values.’ Nicky Morgan [MP and Secretary of State for Education] has changed the rules on this, and one of the values schools are now obliged to promote is the doctrine of tolerance for all ideas, and accepting the point of view of anyone you might disagree with.

“This sounds very persuasive, but it is a form of value relativism. Teacher are discussing extremist values on a level plain field with what you might call more reasonable points of view.

“I’ve seen it myself in schools. It is dangerous; it offers children no real moral guidance and can actually serve promote the extremism and lack of community cohesion which the government wants to tackle in the first place.” Source

Comment

Blogger Prognosticum suggested that this topic deserves a thread of its own.  On the face of it, it does, indeed, seem like a sinister move – potentially a serious threat to religious freedom. Or is this scare-mongering? Is it only to be expected, given the rise of the radicalisation of young Muslims, that the Government would decide that the time has come to monitor all religious leaders? It’s only  “national security” at work, we’ve nothing to fear, surely? Why all the cynical faces?  

14 responses

  1. On this story I think I’ll hang fire until it is officially announced and I can read the detail. Personally speaking, I can’t see how the monitoring of “Faith leaders” would improve national security one iota. It doesn’t make sense. If the rumour proves to be true then I would have to agree with others that such a policy should be viewed as extremely sinister and would have to be seriously questioned.

    • Athanasius,

      I agree. I was just about to post a few words to the effect: “Prognosticum, Prognosticum, where art thou, Prognosticum?”

      Not the first time this has happened – I’ve had a request from a blogger to post a particular topic and then that person (whom I stupidly presumed would lead the discussion and give us some food for thought to discuss) disappears! I try to post topics which bloggers are keen to discuss where possible but in future, I’ll require an assurance that the disappearing act won’t happen before complying with such requests.

      On topic: I was convinced [that it might be worth a thread] by the fact that the reporter is Andrew Gilligan (award-winning investigative journalist who, when working for the BBC, exposed the lies in the Blair dossier on the Iraq war/weapons of mass destruction falsehoods). He writes the in the Telegraph article linked in the source report:

      Imams, priests, rabbis and other religious figures will have to enrol in a “national register of faith leaders” and be subject to government-specified training and security checks in the Home Office’s latest action on extremism. The highly controversial proposal appears in a leaked draft of the Government’s new counter-extremism strategy, seen by The Telegraph, which goes substantially further than previous versions of the document. Source

      Also, in our forthcoming October newsletter, I am featuring a letter from a reader to Mark Spencer MP – the following extract is self-explanatory:

      “Your recommendations that the Counter-Terrorism Bill should encompass and prohibit traditional religious teaching has been reported in the Glasgow “Catholic” Observer of August 7th; in Richard Littlejohn’s column in the Daily Mail of August 7th (‘If there is one thing I hate, it’s hate crime”) and in the Catholic Herald of August 14th.”

      Whatever, if there is no real interest in this thread, I’ll delete it later today.

  2. Goodness, this appears to be a very sinister move indeed. I suspect that the reasons for implementing such a policy is to counter islamic radicalisation but where will it all end? Other, non islamic, religious teachings and practices have never, to my knowledge, given any cause for concern, so why include all religions? I think it’s because it would be seen as un p.c. to target only Islam but, why not as it is they who are causing the unrest in our societies.

    • Olaf,

      Well said. I notice that the TV news presenters constantly refer to “so-called Islamic State” (to distance Islam from the terrorist group) but, notably, during the reporting in recent days of the claims that the IRA is involved in a murder, despite the insistence from republican politicians that the IRA no longer exists, the possibility that the IRA does not even exist any longer has not led to a policy of referring to “the so-called IRA”. The bias is stark.

      It is, as you say, possibly a fear of being seen to target only Islam, that, if true, such a register is being considered, and that would be typical of the lack of moral fibre in contemporary politicians, but, whatever the truth, it’s difficult to see how a “register” of “faith leaders” would help in the slightest.

  3. The Telegraph has been right about things in the past in its prognostications concerning the present government’s (and its predecessor’s) policies, so I would hardly be surprised if it were right over this. Leaving Andrew Gilligan aside, a policy like this would be perfectly in keeping with a mindset which is as contradictory as it is diffuse.

    The premise is that we have to defend British ‘values’. Undoubtedly high among such values historically has been freedom of speech. How then can it be coherent to defend British values through the suppression or limitation of freedom of speech? It is a contradiction in terms.

    But we all know that this has nothing to do with defending British values. Let us leave aside for the moment the vexed question of the definition of such values, whether, for example, same sex marriage comes within their realm given that not only is it a very recent invention (‘imposition’ would be a better word) but as recently ad 1967 homosexual acts between consenting males were illegal. What this is about is controlling Islam while upholding the central tenets of PC dogma, about having one’s cake and eating it.

    Our governing elite knows full well that it has an enormous problem on its hands with Islam and radicalized, home grown Muslims in particular, but PC dogma prohibits saying this because it would give a lie to its centralmtenet that all religions are equal (i.e equally false). Ergo, treat all religions as a threat, even if Judaism and Christianity are about as much of a threat to the security of Britain as the man in the moon. This proposal would effectively tar Jews and Christians with the Muslim brush.

    The fact that such a policy can even be mooted in Britain today shows the extent to which free speech is at a premium, even in the context of universities which is something which should send a shiver down our collective spines. But, at the same time, the very idea that thought can be controlled through the imposition of government registers is frankly preposterous. Does our governing elite remember nothing of the Soviet Union begore its collapse? It had goverment registers too and a brutal police force to back them up, but it could not resist its internal contradictions. The idea that Britain’s multicultural disaster can be resolved by another layer of bureaucracy and a dash of the criminal law is not only naive, but frankly laughable.

  4. It is unlikely to lead to much change for most mainstream religions. Clergy employed as Prison Chaplains, for example, are already required to have followed training recognised by their denomination and where necessary be ordained, and have the endorsement of their recognised faith leader, and the National Prison Advisor for that faith.

    Unlike Catholic Clergy many faiths/denominations do not have universally recognised training, or something akin to Ordination, or a recognised faith leader to endorse them except in a broad sense. Imams and many Christian traditions have no such “quality” control. It maybe that such as these have difficulty getting on a Register.

    Thus the only change for the Catholic Church will most probably the actual register, but getting registered should not be a problems. Catholics not in Full Communion with the Church, however, may face an hurdle.

    • Don’t Panic!,

      I wish I had your faith in human nature … but then again I don’t. Sorry, but I don’t think you get it. This is ultimately about thought control and will turn out to be the thin end of a very dangerous wedge. It is about creating a government-controlled consensus by which to measure what is acceptable in religion and what is not. Of course, Anglicans, being a flexible bunch, will have no problem with such a regime. For Catholics and Evangelicals, it will be a different story.

      Not only, but the British government had form when it comes to persecuting Catholics. I simply do not trust it, especially in the current PC, atheistic enviroment in ehich liberals are increasingly uneasy with any challenge to their views.

      But the irony in this proposal is that would not work. It will only bury the problem it purports to resolve underground and give Islamic extremists another pretext for martyrdom.

      Is it possible that we have learned so little from recent world history?

  5. Well, Don’t Panic!, I remember when the 1967 Abortion Act was passed and we were relentlessly told that there were “failsafes” to ensure that only the most desperate cases would be considered for abortion; that abortion on demand was a lie told by hysterical pro-lifers. We were also told loudly and repeatedly by the wimin demonstrators that in future “every child would be a wanted child” and that child abuse would be practically eliminated. That’s worked well, hasn’t it?

    One thing is clear to me: it won’t be imams who are threatened by such a register. Those troublesome Christians, however, are a different matter.

  6. Multiculturality had led to a situation in which the goverment cannot trust its citizens. Instead of facing up to the problem, this proposal will only deal with its most superficial symptoms. In doing so, the damage to freedom will be incalculable.

    • Prognosticum,

      I agree with you totally about multiculturism. It is a failed experiment and has led to oppressive laws where people are afraid to say what they think.

      If there is a register of faith leaders being prepared, that is clear evidence that Britain is fast becoming a totalitarian state.

  7. I agree this is sinister and, on the face of it, the scheme is taking an unfair broad brush approach to religion, instead of targetting Islamic Hate preachers specifically.

    But then such idiotic approaches are par for the course in PC-afflicted Britain; for example, it is well known that black youths are responsible for the majority of violent crime in london, (notably with guns), yet it is still regarded as “racist” to give this demographic particular attention when it comes to Police activity.

    A concern I have for the Catholic faith is that it is likely that the scheme would eventually come to be used to undermine and attack the faith whenever it teaching differs from secular fads. For example it could possibly be used to make it difficult to speak out against homosexuality and abortion (not that the clergy have a particularly good record at tackling such matters as it is; many just want to put on their shapeless white vestments and prattle on about renewal, joy and celebration).

    • Gabriel

      You’re right about the Catholic clergy – the majority shouldn’t have much to fear – I’m more concerned for the evangelicals who are not afraid to make a stand for at least some Christian morality.

  8. Gabriel, I do agree about the broad brush-stroke attempt – an attempt to give the impression that all religious leaders are under scrutiny instead of only the Muslim hate preachers. But of course your concerns about the eventual use of the legislation are all-too-well founded. The total blindness of the British Government, and most governments of the once-Christian West to what they are dealing with here is quite incredible. They have yet to learn that the laws and schemes of the infidel nations in the process of being gained for Allah will only be obeyed by the infidels themseves. The chosen ones, whose own laws are unchanged and unchangeable since the C7th AD, owe them no allegiance, and any coercion of our Muslim immigrants has long been ruled out.

%d bloggers like this: