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Government Watchlist for Faith Leaders ‘Deeply Troubling’

Pastors, rabbis and other religious leaders will be subject to government training and security checks and will have to enroll in a “national register of faith leaders,” according to leaked British government legislation.

The proposal, which appears in a draft version of the government’s new counter-extremism strategy seen by The Sunday Telegraph, would affect Christian ministers and other religious leaders who wish to work with the public sector.

The Christian Institute has warned that it represents an attack on freedom of religion, not seen since the 17th century.

‘Deeply concerning’

Spokesman for The Institute, Ciarán Kelly, said: “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.

‘Sinister’

“They mean that Christian leaders invited to speak to a university Christian Union would be required to go on a government approved training scheme before being allowed to speak to students.

“This is a truly sinister proposal more in keeping with China or North Korea than a democracy built on the freedoms of Magna Carta.

“We would ask the Government to think again and drop these dangerous plans immediately.”