House of Bishops to discipline clergy members of BNP or NF

06 June 2014

PA

Defeated: the leader of the BNP, Nick Griffin, learns that he has lost his seat as an MEP, at Manchester Town Hall, on 25 May 

Defeated: the leader of the BNP, Nick Griffin, learns that he has lost his seat as an MEP, at Manchester Town Hall, on 25 May <...

CLERGY who are members of either the British National Party or the National Front could be subject to disciplinary measures, the House of Bishops has said.

The declaration by the Bishops on Tuesday means that any member of the clergy who is a member of either party, or "promotes or expresses or solicits support" for them, could face misconduct proceedings under the Clergy Discipline Measure of 2003.

In a statement, the House of Bishops said that "the constitution, policies, objectives, activities, or public statementsof the National Front and the British National Party are incompatible with the teaching of the Church of England". The new rules will come into force in July, unless the General Synod decides to debate the declaration.

The decision follows the carrying of a General Synod private member's motion from Vasantha Gnanadoss (Southwark), in February 2009 ( News, 13 February 2009). The motion noted the Metropolitan Police's policy on banning officers from joining the BNP, and asked the House of Bishops to formulate a similar policy.

A background note to the House of Bishops' declaration said that: "If clergy were actively associated with parties or organisations whose aims or public statements were contrary to the teaching of the Church on racial equality, it would bring the Church into disrepute and the ministry of those clergy would be compromised."

It said that its decision had been taken after taking account of the BNP's 2010 manifesto as well as the National Front's constitution, which begins: "The primary object of the National Front is to ensure the survival and advancement of the White Race and the British Nation."

In 2009, after the General Synod motion, a statement by the BNP condemned the decision, and decried the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, as a "prominent African invader in the Church of England".

There are no known Anglican clergy members of the BNP.

Simon Danby, a former deputy leader of the party, told The Daily Telegraph that the C of E had abandoned the teaching of the Bible, and had been "hijacked by people who are more interested in neo-Marxism. Where is it going to end? Am I, because I am a member of the BNP, not going to be buried on church ground?"

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