'Freedom of Speech'

British MP claims new ‘anti-extremism’ powers will be used on Christian teachers who say gay marriage is ‘wrong’

MDI Comment:

In the oldest Secular Liberal Democracy on Earth, Britain, new ‘counter-extremism’ powers are to be introduced to silence all individuals who advocate opinions that Secular Liberal’s deem to be ‘extremist’ under the excuse of tackling ‘Islamic Extremism’. However, the tidal wave of laws to force ‘social cohesion’ under a Secular state  will have consequences far reaching beyond merely targeting the rights of the Muslim community in the UK. Recently, a British MP explained that the intended ‘anti-extremism’ disruption orders (which will effectively prevent someone from speaking, printing or posting online without prior police permission) will affect Christians who advocate ideas deemed to be ‘extremist’ (i.e. non-Liberal), including saying ‘gay marriage’ is ‘wrong’. The Secular Humanist group, the National Secular Society has also voiced opposition, but it appears largely due to their concerns that their criticism of current political institutions in the UK may also be branded ‘extremist’ by government.


 MP: use anti-terror powers on Christian teachers who say gay marriage is ‘wrong’

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New Extremism Disruption Orders should be applied on those who “teach” traditionalist Christian views about marriage in the classroom

by John Bingham, Religious affairs editor, 3rd August 2015, Daily Telegraph

Mark Spencer MP

MP Mark Spencer (Conservative Party)

New banning orders intended to clamp down on hate preachers and terrorist propagandists should be used against Christian teachers who teach children that gay marriage is “wrong”, a Tory MP has argued.

Mark Spencer called for those who use their position in the classroom to teach traditionalist views on marriage to be subject to “Extremism Disruption Orders” (EDOs), tough new restrictions planned by David Cameron and Theresa May to curb radicalisation by jihadists.

In a letter to a constituent, Mr Spencer, the MP for Sherwood in Nottinghamshire, insisted that Christian teachers were still “perfectly entitled” to express their views on same-sex marriage – but only “in some situations”.

Christian campaigners said Mr Spencer’s remarks confirmed what they had previously warned: that those who believe marriage should only be between a man and a woman would now be “branded extremists”.

The National Secular Society, which supports same-sex marriage, said the proposed banning orders could be one of the biggest threats to freedom of expression ever seen in the UK.

David Cameron outlined the counter-extremism plans after the General Election

Ministers have signalled that the orders, expected to be a key plank of the Government planned new Counter-Extremism Bill, would be used not only curb the activities of radical Islamist clerics but those who promote other views deemed to go against “British values”.

Ministers have defined British values in the past as including broad notions like democracy, tolerance and the rule of law.

Mr Spencer was writing in response to an email from a constituent who was concerned about claims by the campaign group the Christian Institute that EDOs could be used against those with traditional beliefs.

He wrote: “I believe that everybody in society has a right to free speech and to express their views without fear of persecution.

“The EDOs will not serve to limit but rather to guarantee it: it is those who seek to stop other people expressing their beliefs who will be targeted.

“Let me give you an example, one which lots of constituents have been writing about – talking about gay marriage in schools.”

He went on to insist that Christians with traditional views on marriage are “perfectly entitled to express their views” but suggests it could constitute “hate speech” in some contexts.

“The new legislation specifically targets hate speech, so teachers will still be free to express their understanding of the term ‘marriage’, and their moral opposition to its use in some situations without breaking the new laws.

“The EDOs, in this case, would apply to a situation where a teacher was specifically teaching that gay marriage is wrong.”

Opponents say the new orders would be a threat to free speech

Simon Calvert, Deputy Director of the Christian Institute said: “I am genuinely shocked that we have an MP supporting the idea of teachers being branded extremists for teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman.

“This is exactly the kind of thing we’ve been warning about.

“The Government says we’ve got nothing to worry about from their new extremism laws, but here is one of its own MPs writing to a constituent saying EDOs would stop teachers teaching mainstream Christian beliefs.”

He added: “Ten years ago the Conservatives opposed Tony Blair’s unpopular law against ‘inciting religious hatred’, saying it jeopardised free speech – yet here they are seeking to bring in an even worse law.

“EDOs will be a gross infringement of free speech and undermine the very British values they claim to protect.”

Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society said: “If EDOs really could be used to prevent teachers from talking about same-sex marriage, unless they are inciting violence, they are an even greater threat to freedom of expression than I had feared.

“To suggest that EDOs guarantee freedom of expression [as Mark Spencer suggests] is not just inaccurate, it is the opposite of the truth; they are the largest threat to freedom of expression I have ever seen in Britain.

“The spreading of hatred is far too vague a concept to be the basis of legal sanctions, and would be worryingly open to misuse, particularly by ideological opponents.”

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