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Fears for Sunday schools prompt terror law changes

By Harriet Agerholm

Published 11/07/2016

The Archbishop of Canterbury has reportedly persuaded the government to drop some aspects of a counter-terror law, after arguing it would unfairly affect church Sunday schools
The Archbishop of Canterbury has reportedly persuaded the government to drop some aspects of a counter-terror law, after arguing it would unfairly affect church Sunday schools

The Archbishop of Canterbury has reportedly persuaded the government to drop some aspects of a counter-terror law, after arguing it would unfairly affect church Sunday schools.

According to The Sunday Times, Justin Welby met senior ministers to argue against draft measures in the new counter-extremism bill intended to test "fundamental British values".

The measure would have required out-of-school groups teaching under-19s for over six hours a week to register with the local council, and would have left them open to snap inspections.

Church leaders feared Christian teaching on subjects such as gay marriage and gender roles would see Sunday schools flagged as extremist under the criteria, according to The Times.

After the meeting with Mr Welby, the government has decided to discard the provision requiring these groups to register.

"That requirement has now been dropped," a Whitehall source told the newspaper. "It still means that Ofsted can go in if there is reasonable cause, but it will remove the requirement to register. The Church thought this idea of registration too draconian," the source said.

The forthcoming counter-terrorism bill, announced in the Queen's Speech in May, has been met with concern from a wide range of religious organisations.

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