A radical Christian group that planned a Christmas march through Bradford will be banned under counter-terrorism laws, Home Secretary Alan Johnson has said.
The group, Salvation Army, had planned to march through the Yorkshire town wearing uniform and playing hymns but was banned after a public outcry.
A spokesman for the Salvation Army denied that it was a violent organisation and said that rattling collection boxes at passers-by was not meant to intimidate.
Mr Johnson said, ‘I have today proscribed the Salvation Army, but I am aware that the group is known to operate under other names. Therefore, I have also banned the Sally-Ann and the Oh-God-It’s-Them-Again groups under the Terrorism Act.’
Mr Johnson said that people could not be allowed to parade in public places wearing unfashionable uniforms, playing and singing untuneful ‘Christian soldier’ compositions, and selling tracts provocatively entitled War Cry.
‘Having settled here’, Mr Johnson said, ‘these Salvationists must make an effort to adopt our civilised ways and cease threatening this country with charitable works. And God only knows what they are concealing under that head gear.’
Mr Johnson conceded that there was no evidence that, unlike Muslims, Salvationists embraced acts of suicide. ‘Which is something of a pity,’ he said.