The Government could remove trustees from Christian charities, including schools, across England and Wales if they are seen as “extremist”, according to leaked documents.
The plan appears in a draft version of the Home Office’s new counter-extremism strategy seen by the Sunday Telegraph.
The proposal gives new legal powers to the Charity Commission to sack trustees.
It comes after the Government’s attempt to enact a “national register of faith leaders” was criticised as an attack on religious freedom.
In May, a paper on how the Charity Commission will use its powers made no mention of extremism being used for disqualifying trustees.
But the leaked draft says that “once the legislation is enacted, the Charity Commission will take action against all trustees who meet the definition of extremism set out in this document”, according to the Telegraph.
The document defines extremism as “the vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs”.
A spokesman for the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (Aveco) said: “We support powers to tackle extremism but we are concerned at how widely these measures could be interpreted.
“If the Government were to apply its definition of extremism would the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, be able to occupy the second-highest position of trusteeship in the land?”
The Sunday Telegraph also uncovered another leaked document which revealed a Government proposal to subject religious leaders to Government training and security checks.
Under the plans, they would be made to enrol in a “national register of faith leaders”, in order to work in the public sector.
Ciarán Kelly, a spokesman for the Christian Institute, said: “If the reports are accurate, what the Government is proposing turns the clock back on religious freedom more than 300 years.”
He added that the proposal means “Christian leaders invited to speak to a university Christian union would be required to go on a Government-approved training scheme before being allowed to speak to students.
“This is a truly sinister proposal more in keeping with China or North Korea than a democracy built on the freedoms of Magna Carta.
“We would ask the Government to think again and drop these dangerous plans immediately.”
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