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Free speech concerns

October 2015

Four out of five evangelicals think government policies to tackle extremism may make it harder for them to share their faith.

According to a survey from the Evangelical Alliance (EA), two-thirds of respondents out of 1700 responding to the survey felt that the current attempt to define ‘British values’ was a reflection of the country’s identity crisis.

Although 71 per cent were ‘broadly supportive’ of the government’s plans to define and promote British values, some three quarters agreed that freedom of speech needed greater protection.

While 57 per cent believed that people needed to respond to extremism, evangelicals felt concerned about the ‘unintended consequences’ of such measures.

Dr Dave Landrum, director of advocacy for the EA, said, ‘Our fundamental freedoms are being threatened by the government over-reacting to security threats to those very freedoms. We may be in danger of destroying the foundations while trying to protect the house we have built on them’.

According to the survey, the Christian faith has played a key role in providing values to British society throughout its history, but many believed this legacy was being swiftly eroded.

The survey showed that only 31 per cent felt they still shaped values today, while fewer than one in five agreed that Britain is a Christian country.

Dr Landrum added: ‘Many people value the legacy that our country is built on, yet it seems that today we are trying to build our social values on nothing but fresh air and good intentions. We value Christianity when it suits us, and we dispense with it when it is inconvenient, yet the central truths of Christianity led to the very freedoms on which we now rely’.

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