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Christians at risk in new counter-extremism strategy, Bishop warns

Bishop Davies will say Catholics professing their faith in Jesus could be caught up in measures to tackle non-violent extremism.

Christians could be targeted by the Government’s new counter-extremism strategy, a Bishop will warn.

The Rt Rev Mark Davies will say Catholics professing their faith in Jesus could be caught up in measures to tackle non-violent extremism.

The Bishop of Shrewsbury will suggest Theresa May’s efforts to counter the ideology that underpins terrorist attacks could be misused to ensnare peaceful Christians who disagree with secularist ideologies.

The Rt Rev Mark Davies is to warn that Catholics could become the focus of measures to tackle extremism (Diocese of Shrewsbury/PA)

He will express his concerns in a homily to more than a thousand English pilgrims gathered at the Marian shrine of Lourdes in France on Monday.

Bishop Davies will say: “Britons now regard the claims of Christianity and even the person of Jesus Christ as representing extremism. It is even possible that the very faith in Christ, on which our nation was built, might become a focus of the Government’s counter-extremism agenda.”

The Prime Minister announced a review of the Government’s counter-terror strategy as well as a new commission for countering extremism in the Queen’s Speech. But Bishop Davies will highlight confusion over the definition of extremism, citing findings from a ComRes poll which found that nearly a third of Britons think Jesus was an extremist.

Theresa May announced a review of the counter-terror strategy in the Queen's Speech (Lauren Hurley/PA)

He will tell pilgrims from the Dioceses of Shrewsbury and Salford that Christians are extreme only in their “following of Christ and in all that contributes to the good of society, recognising how we are all called to the extremes of charity, of virtue, of grace, of unswerving adherence to goodness and truth, to the high goal of holiness in which lies our ultimate happiness”.

He will say: “There is a destructive extremism we ought to fear, one which seeks not only to deconstruct marriage and the family, but the very identity of the human person, which calls for medical experimentation with no reference to ethical boundaries, that decrees the unborn may live only to terms fixed by man, demands legal protections be removed from the sick and the aged.

“It is such extremism which surely threatens the foundations of society.”

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