[by Dean Smith] Rev. Dr. Mike Ovey is principal of London’s Oak Hill Theological College that trains priests for the Anglican church. He is not only a former lawyer, but as well worked for the government during the 1980s helping draft England’s anti-terrorism bill to combat IRA terrorism.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Dr. Ovey is sounding alarm bells over Extremism Disruption Orders being added to England’s Counter Extremism Bill.
What concerns Dr. Ovey is that these potential changes could effectively criminalize Christian beliefs.
According to Ovey, the bill seeks to redefine British values. In the past, parliament defined those values as tolerating all opinions as long as people respected and obeyed the law.
However, the proposed change will go one step further. Instead of tolerating other views, it will attempt to curb any opinions considered non-British “even if it is nonviolent and legal.”
The change intended to combat radical Islam could potentially cut a wide swath and include those who don’t agree with Gay marriage and abortion or even those who simply believe Jesus is the Son of God.
Ovey says one of the main problems is who gets to decide what British values are? Speaking of Theresa May, Britain’s Home Secretary and one of the main authors of the Bill, Ovey said:
“We don’t know what British values are other than whatever Theresa May decides on the particular Monday when she wakes up and has to make one of these orders.”
Unless the government strictly defines what it means by non-British values, Ovey says the law could potentially put a damper on people expressing their religious views for fear of arrest.
Take the case of a street preacher Rob Hughes who police arrested because of a complaint by an openly gay woman that he was preaching hate against homosexuals. Fortunately, he had recorded the 20-minute sermon and brief confrontation that conclusively showed he had done no such thing. Though the police had this recording in their possession and knew this within minutes, the arresting officers kept the preacher in custody for 11 hours before letting him go for lack of evidence.
Hughes was simply addressing sin and preaching the Gospel. Though the police eventually compensated Hughes for his mistreatment, if these new orders are passed could Hugh’s activity now be considered “non-British” and criminal?