A public consultation over plans to regulate out of school activities such as Sunday schools and church youth groups has been launched by the Welsh government.
The 'out-of-school education settings' consultation bears a striking resemblance to similar Westminster proposals, which have been called 'illberal' and 'statist' by MPs.
The government proposes that any 'out-of-school education settings' that provide "intensive education" for over six to eight hours in any week will be required to register and undergo regular inspection.
Sunday schools will need to register
In January, Ofsted's chief inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, confirmed that some Sunday schools and other Christian youth activities will indeed be affected by the measures.
Speaking on LBC radio, he said that Sunday schools will need to register.
"The government… wants Sunday schools, and wants Madrassas and after-school clubs to be registered…. We will not be inspecting every one of them – but we will know that they exist," he said.
Listen to Sir Michael Wilshaw confirm that Ofsted will inspect Sunday schools.
While the schools' regulator, Ofsted, will be given legal power to investigate settings such as Sunday schools and church youth groups, it is unclear who will inspect such settings in Wales.
Echoing its Westminster counterpart, the Welsh consultation states that "undesirable teaching… which undermines or is incompatible with our values of mutual respect and tolerance is a 'prohibited' activity".
In its response to the Westminster consultation, Christian Concern has joined other groups in warning that such a vague definition will put Christian teaching at risk.
In January, prominent Conservative backbenchers, including Fiona Bruce and David Burrowes, wrote to the Telegraph, highlighting this risk:
"This would be an intolerable but very real possibility given the clear desire of the Department for Education to investigate what it calls 'prohibitive activities', such as 'undesirable teaching…which undermines or is incompatible with fundamental British values'. This could challenge established Christian teaching.
"Threats to British values originate overwhelmingly from certain strains of Islam. It is at least disproportionate, if not absurd, to impose intrusive burdens on all other religious groups under the pretence that attempts at radicalisation could be discovered in any organisation."
AndreaWilliams, chief executive of Christian Concern, said:
"What the government is proposing has serious implications on the freedom of our Christian groups to teach core gospel truths. We have already heard Nicky Morgan declare that children who express the biblical view of marriage being between one man and one woman could be viewed as 'extremist'.
"The proposals the government is suggesting will hand government officials the power to regulate religion in the UK, without proper safeguards. They would provide a basis for state censorship of biblical teaching that is deemed undesirable."
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