The government's radical proposals to tackle extremism are "absurd" and must be postponed to allow more time to respond, a Christian MP has said.
Fiona Bruce MP today asked the Leader of House to "use his influence to seek an extension" to the deadline as the consultation fell over Christmas, "the busiest period of the year for many Christians." The open consultation allows members of the public to give their views on the controversial plans.
The Department for Education's new strategy to combat extremism means any initiative that includes teaching and works with children for six hours or more a week will have to register and be ready to be inspected by Ofsted officials.
The government's proposals could mean Ofsted inspectors would be allowed into Sunday schools, youth groups and Christian summer camps, said Bruce.
"The Government has not properly thought through these proposals, and needs to go back to the drawing board," she added, after making the comments in the House of Commons today.
"We have often seen that traditional Christian teachings can be wrongly sanctioned by local officials who are unfamiliar with Christianity, and that makes me very worried about what would happen if we start having Ofsted inspectors inside churches and observing beach missions looking for issues," she said.
CARE, a Christian public policy charity, supported Bruce in her efforts and called the proposals "extremely unsettling."
"The fact the consultation has been timed to run over the festive season has all the appearance of a deliberate attempt to ensure fewer Christians can actually respond," said Nola Leach, CARE's CEO.
"This is completely unacceptable and Fiona Bruce is quite right to be calling on the government to think again."
Both Bruce and Leach called on Christians to respond to the consultation. Leach said it was urgent to prevent churches from becoming "swamped in needless red-tape."
"If we don't make our voice heard, we cannot stop these proposals," said Bruce.
The consultation was launched at the start of advent and ends on 11 January. You can respond to the consultation here.