Theresa May's new counter-extremism strategy could be used to target Christians, says bishop

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May's new counter-extremism strategy does not clearly define what extremism is and could be misused to target peaceful Christians who do not agree with the state's secular ideologies, the Bishop of Shrewsbury feared.

(REUTERS / Toby Melville)Theresa May speaks to the media outside number 10 Downing Street, in central London, Britain July 13, 2016.

In his speech to more than a thousand pilgrims at the Marian Shrine of Lourdes in France on July 31, Rt. Rev. Mark Davies expressed his concern over the U.K.'s new strategy to fight non-violent extremism. The Bishop of Shrewsbury talked about the negative effects of extreme secularist ideologies on marriage, family, and medical ethics, Premier relayed.

Based on a survey commissioned by the Evangelical Alliance, 28 percent of people view Jesus Christ as an extremist. For Bishop Davies, Christians should exercise extremism only in following Christ and in everything that helps society improve. This includes the exercise of "charity, of virtue, of grace, of unswerving adherence to goodness and truth, to the high goal of holiness in which lies our ultimate happiness."

In May, the Daily Mail reported that Downing Street is planning to launch a major counter-extremism strategy designed to target Islamist hate preachers. The proposal, which was drawn ahead of the Manchester terror attack, includes new criminal offenses for those who try to bypass the law by endorsing radical ideas without directly insinuating violence.

"Just like racism, extremism can be defeated. But it will take sustained effort to change cultural and social norms amongst certain sections of the population," a Conservative source told the Mail. "We know that extremism is not confined to any one community and we want to use a Commission, like the Commission for Racial Equality, to drive extremism out of our society."

As part of the new counter-extremism strategy, technology companies will reportedly be required to relay encrypted data to police and security services. This would also lead to the removal of encryption from suspicious messages on WhatsApp, Facebook, and other similar services.