Government Inspections of Church Work

No, this isn't a description of China or Iran, it's here in the United Kingdom. OFSTED, the school inspectorate, will soon be given powers to inspect Sunday schools, youth groups and Bible camps to ensure British values are being taught, and to ban from youth work those deemed undesirable.

Now I'm proud to be British, but British values are subjective. Disapproval of same-sex marriage might lead some church youth operations to be shut down. OFSTED have a poor reputation among some teachers for their impartiality and incompetance (a recent young offenders' institute whose staff abused its teenage inmates was described as 'good' by inspectors not long before the revelations were exposed on television).

Of course they're really aiming at Islamic youth work but are targeting Christians in a bid to appear fair-minded and even-handed. It is, however, a worrying occasion, when the goverrment starts inspecting church work. In a few years, we may find the clocks turned back to the 1660s, when magistrates and constables raided houses at Martin Top, Gisburn and Twiston, dragging Quakers and other nonconformists to prison because they refused to subscribe to the British values of their day.

There is nothing new under the sun.