Is the Commission for Countering Extremism going to erode freedom of religion and belief?

Oct 3, 2018 by

by Carys Moseley, Christian Concern:

On 20 September the Commission for Countering Extremism published the Terms of Reference for a study on extremism in the UK and how to challenge extremism more effectively. There is a discussion of ‘Harms Caused by Extremism’ on page 11, which begins by referring to Ahmadi shopkeeper Asad Shah, Jo Cox MP and Muslim worshippers at Finsbury Park mosque, all victims of murder at the hands of violent extremists.

The hunt for ‘victims of extremism’

The statement is then made that “there are other victims of extremism” as follows:

“We heard about mixed-faith couples whose wedding days were disrupted by religious hardliners, gay people forced to choose between living their lives as they want and their faith, and suffering abuse as a result, and the abuse faced by people countering extremism affecting their emotional and psychological wellbeing.”

This suggests the Commission could advocate forcing orthodox religious bodies to accept mixed-faith marriages and homosexual lifestyles or risk being branded as extremists, effectively forcing them to deny their own teachings on marriage and sexual ethics. This would be a major attack on freedom of religion and belief in the United Kingdom. It completely undermines Theresa May’s statement, made as Home Secretary, on the Radio 4 Today programme on 19 October 2015, that the Counter-Extremism Strategy would not diminish religious freedom as it wasn’t about ‘different views’ or ‘different beliefs’ – but nevertheless targeted ‘extremist views’. John Humphrys had asked her specifically about objection to same-sex ‘marriage’.

Encouraging the public to report ‘perceptions’ of ‘extremism’

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