The General Synod moved a step closer to banning clergy from
membership of groups such as the British National Party (BNP) when
it gave final approval to the Clergy Discipline (Amendment) Measure
The Measure doesn't itself proscribe membership of the BNP, but
gives the House of Bishops power to declare, by a two-thirds
majority, that an organisation's "constitution, policies,
objectives or public statements . . . to be incompatible with the
teaching of the Church of England in relation to the equality of
persons or groups of different races".
The Measure will require parliamentary approval and royal assent
before the Bishops could make such a declaration, which will then
need to be approved by the General Synod.
The move gives effect to a private member's motion from Vasantha
Gnanadoss (Southwark), which the Synod passed in 2009, calling for
membership of such organisations to be banned.
The Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Christopher Hill, said:
"The Synod itself would have the opportunity to endorse or
otherwise a decision by the House of Bishops to proscribe
membership or support of a racist organisation in relation to the
clergy." This "important change in relation to racist
organisations" was a "faithful response to what you - the Synod -
asked us to do".
In addition, the Measure also amends the way clergy convicted of
criminal offences can be dealt with under the Clergy Discipline
Measure, enabling bishops to bring disciplinary proceedings against
clergy convicted of certain offences abroad, and for serious
offences where a priest has not been sentenced to a term of