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CHURCH OF ENGLAND - its clergy and the BNP

Church of England votes to ban British National Party clergy
Martin Revis
ecumenical news international
Feb 11, 2009

The general synod of the Church of England has voted by 322 votes to 13 to ban its clergy from membership of the British National Party, which advocates the voluntary repatriation of immigrants to their countries of origin.

A motion on Feb. 10 by Vasantha Gnanadoss, a lay member of the synod - the Anglican church's parliament of bishops, clergy and laity - noted that the country's police services ban BNP membership. Gnanadoss, of Asian origin, requested the synod's bishops to formulate and implement a comparable policy covering clergy and those who speak on behalf of the church.

In support of her proposal, Gnanadoss, who works as a civilian for London's Metropolitan Police force, said, "If supporting organisations like the BNP is inconsistent with Christian discipleship, it seems obvious that clergy and others who speak for the church should not be members."

Gnanadoss said, "Passing this motion is seriously necessary. Without it, the day may come when the BNP will have gained significant power and the church will stand accused of having been feeble when it could have been resolute."

Such a measure is important, she said, because it would prevent parties such as the BNP from associating themselves with the church.

The motion was backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and his deputy, the Archbishop of York, Uganda-born John Sentamu, who said, "I am a member of the Baganda tribe, but as Christian I joined another tribe. It is the tribe of Jesus Christ, and in that tribe, all are welcome."

William Fittall, secretary general of the synod, who prepared a paper on the issue, warned there could be legal difficulties because the BNP is not a prohibited political party and there was a possibility of discrimination claims. Other speakers referred to under-representation of ethnic minorities in the clergy and alleged unspoken racist views within parishes.

"We know these views exist here," said the Rev. Rose Hudson Wilkins. "Why are there so few people from ethnic minorities sitting in this chamber? There are racist undertones in parishes and dioceses. We are kidding ourselves to believe it all comes from somewhere else."

Church of England leaders have previously called for voters to shun the BNP and its synod has passed a resolution deploring the sin of racial prejudice. Although five clergy were named in a list of 12,000 BNP members that was leaked to the media in 2008, a Church of England spokesperson said at the time that none were serving Anglican priests.

The BNP has campaigned for the voluntary repatriation of immigrants, but its chairperson Nick Griffin, denies racism. The party's Web site claims the BNP is concerned with the indigenous British population and wants them to remain the majority of the population.
Vote: Should the Church of England have banned its clergy from membership of the BNP?

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Members Comments

estivboy 12-Oct-2009 4:25
"I would certainly acknowledge the right of clergymen to tell Christians how to vote."

By that logic i should go ask an atheist professor of politics how i should vote. Let's stop giving religion special significance to allow it to step aside from the rights guaranteed to all others. For the record I would actually like to see the BNP banned because it openly promotes hate, but not banned if it stops that same promotion. There is a significant step between that and asking the individuals who belong to it or vote for it to think differently, no matter how much you disagree with their ideas.
Andromeda 21-Jul-2009 7:53
1in10, since my opinion is that there is no real difference between religion and politics, I would certainly acknowledge the right of clergymen to tell Christians how to vote.

But was this wise?
1in10 19-Jul-2009 19:42
I accept that the C.of.E has the right to make such a ban.
AndrewSlade 5-May-2009 16:9
Should the Anglican Communion in India ban its clergy from belonging to the (very corrupt & often violent) Indian Congress Party, which was specifically founded in 1880 to achieve the INVOLUNTARY REPATRIATION of British immigrants out of India (an aim which it achieved, mostly through violence) only 67 years later.

Should Archbishop Desmond Tutu be expelled from the Anglican Communion in South Africa, because he has always supported the African National Congress (even when it used force) all of whose policies are exactly identical to the BNP, wishing to assert the rights of the indigenous majority against the apartheid regime in Whitehall/Westminster, which reserves privileges in every field for foreigners, while keeping 11 million Natives on welfare, deprived of a decent education, 4.5 million of them homeless etc etc.?
evansthespy 6-Mar-2009 15:44
Vasantha Gnanadoss, who proposed the motion and is one of a handful of ethnic minority synod members, said the church is “institutionally reluctant to take any bold measures related to racism.”

says it all really...
jeffreymarshall 25-Feb-2009 3:17
The Anglican church has reached rock bottom - it promotes the sin of homosexuality, yet among its clergy it proscribes a political party that includes so many Christians.

It is time that disgraceful, godless institution was disestablished - so that in future, with luck, it will sink without trace.
Wildgoose 18-Feb-2009 23:52
No, of course not. Does the CoE ban its clergy from membership of the Islamofascist "Respect" Party?

What about membership of Hizb'allah?


So why single out the BNP?

Are they saying they don't trust their own clergy? Does this mean that we shouldn't either?
Anselm 18-Feb-2009 18:59
Is the BNP too conservative now for the CoE or something? It appears so - the BNP actually seem to support Christianity in society, Christian morals, et al.

I despise the BNP and think they are a bunch of opportunist lunatics, but it's still a legitimate political party at the end of the day, and there is no real reason for the CoE to shun them other than to gain favour among the PC brigade.
Andromeda 18-Feb-2009 13:20
It would appear that the Muslims are more liberal politically than the Anglican Church. No Muslim plans are afoot to ban BNP members from embracing Islam and retaining their membership, as far as I know.

I wonder though what the BNP policy is on any Muslim members of the party.

Would a public conversion result in instant expulsion from the party?

Would a mosque admit a convert to Islam if he publicly declares himself to be a member of the BNP?

All comments are subject to approval.

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