Plan for UK religious leader register to counter extremism

Priests, rabbis, imams and other British religious leaders will be subject to Government-specified training and security checks according to a new proposal.

Such religious leaders could also have to enrol in a “national register of faith leaders”, as part of the UK Government’s new counter-extremism strategy.

A leaked draft of the strategy from the Home Office was seen by the Daily Telegraph.

The strategy, due to be published this northern autumn, says that Whitehall will “require all faiths to maintain a national register of faith leaders”.

It also states that the Government will “set out the minimum level of training and checks” faith leaders must have to join the new register.

Registration will be compulsory for all faith leaders who wish to work with the public sector, including universities, the document states.

In practice, most UK faith leaders have some dealings with the public sector and the requirement will cover the great majority.

The move marks a significant deepening of the state’s involvement in religion and is likely to be resisted by many religious representatives.

A spokesman for the Catholic Church said it had not been consulted on the proposals.

Other senior Catholic sources told the Daily Telegraph that any plan for state supervision of priests would be “firmly resisted”.

Imam Maulana Shah Raza warned the Government “not to meddle in religious affairs or to expand the state’s involvement in deciding on religious and theological issues”.

He said: “The Government needs to concentrate on ensuring that safeguards are in place to protect the public and treating all faith communities equally.”

The document states the UK Government will also set out a new “framework for intervention” when local councils “fail” to tackle extremism.

The document states that Whitehall “will compel schools, including academies, to have at least one governor or trustee with no familial or business ties to the school, and who lives outside the catchment area”.


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