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
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
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
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?"