College bans Christian Union, justifying move as a counter-terrorism strategy; UK Prime Minister calls it 'ludicrous'

A college in the United Kingdom has banned a Christian club from meeting in its campus because of the government's Counter-Extremism Strategy, but Prime Minister David Cameron finds this "ludicrous."


According to Premier, Christian Conservative MP Fiona Bruce asked Cameron during the Prime Minister's Questions, "This week we hear of a Christian Union being banned from holding prayer and Bible study meetings, purportedly on the grounds of the Government's anti-terrorism Prevent Strategy. Does the Prime Minister agree that such action was never the purpose of a strategy intended to address terrorism and extremism?"

"Of course, what my friend says is right," Cameron replied, "the point she makes about the Prevent duty being misused: I haven't heard of that exact example, but it's clearly ludicrous, and people do need to exercise some common sense in making these judgements, because it's quite clear that's not what was intended."

The identity of the college has not been disclosed, but it is believed to be the first to impose such ban based on the Prevent strategy. The Times first broke the news, with Festive director Toni Coulton saying that the academic institution's senior management was not happy with Christians having prayer meetings and fellowship, citing the Prevent initiative as the reason.

Festive is a non-profit organization that support Christians in the United Kingdom's further education and sixth-form colleges. Coulton told Christian Today that a number of factors could be involved, but it could be added up to "health and safety" culture.

She said that while FE colleges, in general, are balanced, "you do get these instances – and there are colleges that say you can't set up a Christian group because there isn't a Muslim one, and you get secularists saying, 'We don't do God here.'"

Prevent Strategy, the government's initiative to counter terrorism, tries to keep people from being radicalized. For instance, school staff can refer a student or child to a government agency if they think that that child is being drawn toward terrorism or extremism.

"Something has gone seriously wrong in this country if young people are not allowed to meet for normal Christian fellowship," Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern and the Christian Legal Centre, said. "It is difficult to believe that they could pose a security threat."