The Anglican Church has banned its clergy from joining the British National Party and National Front, declaring that both groups are “un-Christian” and are guilty of the “sin of racism”.
This is the first time that clergy in Britain’s established church have been prohibited from joining a political party – and as yet the move has not been replicated for hard Left groups such as the Socialist Worker Party, or others.
Anglican bishops declared that the two parties are “incompatible with the teaching of the Church of England” due to their position on “equality of persons or groups of different races.”
Any clergy who join either group will face disciplinary procedures and may even be defrocked.
Although the ban was passed by the governing General Synod four years ago, it has only recently come into force after the church received legal advice saying it could not be sued under human rights laws for curtailing the free speech of clergy.
The Daily Telegraph reports that bishops decided to impose the ban after the BNP’s most recent general election manifesto said that “indigenous British people” are becoming a minority due to high levels of immigration, resulting in the “extinction of the British people, culture, heritage and identity”.
They also pointed to BNP pronouncements that Britain is undergoing a “Muslim invasion” and “Islamic colonisation”.
The BNP’s website also attacks the Church of England, declaring that the Uganda-born Archbishop of York is an “African invader” and claiming that the church is being taken over by “Third world interlopers”.
In a statement, the Church of England said: “The effect of the declarations will not be to prevent a cleric from merely expressing support for a particular policy or policies of the BNP or the National Front (for example, an economic or transport policy), but it will prevent a cleric from taking the further step of joining either party or speaking in support of it generally, or encouraging others to join or support it generally.”
They add: “Support for either party, whether expressed privately or publicly, would be unbecoming or inappropriate conduct for clergy under the new provision.”
Former BNP deputy leader Simon Darby told the Telegraph that the Church of England had abandoned the teaching of the bible and had been “hijacked by people who are more interested in neo-Marxism”.
He added: “These are people that don’t bother teaching the Bible, they are more interested in being politically correct. Where is it going to end? Am I, because I am a member of the BNP not going to be buried on church ground?”
He went on to claim that parties like UKIP could also be banned.
When pressed on whether he considered the Archbishop of York an “African invader” he responded: “I wouldn’t say an invader, it’s a bit strong – invading politically I would say definitely.
“But he is certainly African.”