Double slams Government plans to monitor Sunday Schools

Speaking in the debate Steve said:

“Just a few weeks ago, the Prime Minister stood up in the Chamber and declared that he believed we were a Christian nation and that, in fact, it was our Christian heritage and values that have made us the great nation that we are. I believe that those words were broadly welcomed, so, if that is true, what are we afraid of? We should be promoting the teaching of the Bible to our children, not seeking to restrict it, because the results of that produce an awful lot of good.”

“The Government are in danger of making a bad decision based on very bad evidence. Where is the evidence of any British citizen attending the local Methodist Sunday school and being incited to carry out acts of terrorism? Where are the Sunday school teachers who seek to inspire and incite young people to join terrorist organisations? I suggest there is no evidence whatever to impose such restrictions on Sunday schools and other church groups.”

“We need to recognise that the vast majority of people of all faiths in this nation are decent, honest, law-abiding citizens who want only the best not only for their own children, but for our nation. We are in danger of applying onerous restrictions on the many to address the actions of a few. That is the wrong thing to do.”

“In this country, we have already sacrificed too much of our liberty in the name of equality. I fully appreciate that the Government are trying to walk a tightrope on this issue to appear even-handed… we need to be clear about where the source of the threat comes from and target the Government’s response to address the source and not tie up tens of thousands of volunteers with unwarranted bureaucracy when they already have a hard enough job to do.”

“When young people attend Sunday school or other Christian events throughout the year, they often find not just faith but a mission in life to go and serve humanity. Thousands of young people attend Christian camps every summer and, as a result of the teaching they receive, they are inspired to travel the world, serving humanitarian causes. That is something we should be promoting, celebrating and encouraging, not restricting.”

“I implore the Minister and the Government to think again. There is clearly a degree of confusion over this issue, but there is no smoke without fire, so there is certainly something going on. I ask the Minister once and for all to quash the proposal to put onerous restrictions on faith groups, and churches and Sunday schools in particular. Let us celebrate our Christian heritage and not seek to restrict it any further.”

In reply, Minister for Schools, Nick Gibb MP, said,

“We welcome the suggestions that a number of faith organisations have made about how to ensure that any system of regulation is targeted, proportionate and focused on those settings that are failing to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. We wish to continue that dialogue.”

Speaking after the debate, Steve said,

“I was pleased to see the Government open to continuing discussions over these senseless proposals. This is one area in which I disagree with the Government and it was heartening to see so many colleagues with similar contributions to the debate. I will continue to push for change here and hope that Government will come to a sensible conclusion on this matter”.

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