Thinking Anglicans

BNP and National Front incompatible with teaching of Church

Update Tuesday afternoon More press reports added

The House of Bishops of the Church of England have voted to make membership or support of the British National Party (BNP) or National Front (NF) a potential disciplinary offence for its clergy, as this press release explains.

BNP and National Front incompatible with teaching of Church
03 June 2014

The House of Bishops of the Church of England have voted to make membership or support of the British National Party (BNP) or National Front (NF) a potential disciplinary offence for its clergy.

The formal declarations by the House of Bishops mean that a complaint of misconduct can be made under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 against any cleric of the Church of England who is a member of, or promotes or expresses or solicits support for, the BNP or NF.

The declarations will be laid before the General Synod of the Church at its July meeting in York and will come into force at 5.30pm on 11 July 2014 unless 25 members of the General Synod give notice that they wish a declaration to be debated. If such notice is given, the expectation is that the declaration would be debated at the Synod’s July group of sessions in York, and it could not come into force unless approved by the Synod.

The declarations state that on May 19 2014 the House of Bishops resolved to declare that the constitution, polices, objectives, activities or public statements of the National Front and the British National Party are incompatible with the teaching of the Church of England in relation to the equality of persons or groups of different races.

Once a declaration comes into force support for the political party concerned by clergy of the Church of England would be unbecoming or inappropriate conduct. The declarations from the House of Bishops, which were made under section 8(4) of the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003, implement in relation to the clergy of the Church of England, a policy of the General Synod agreed in February 2009 following a Private Member’s Motion from Vasantha Gnanadoss: “That this Synod, noting that in 2004 the Association of Chief Police Officers adopted a policy whereby “no member of the Police Service, whether police officer or police staff, may be a member of an organisation whose constitution, aims, objectives or pronouncements contradict the general duty to promote race equality” and “this specifically includes the British National Party”, request the House of Bishops to formulate and implement a comparable policy for the Church of England, to apply to clergy, ordinands, and such employed lay persons as have duties that require them to represent or speak on behalf of the Church.”

ENDS

Notes

  • An explanatory note explaining the background to the declarations (GS 1946-7X) can be found on the Church of England website, together with the declarations:

GS 1946 National Front declaration

GS 1947 British National Party declaration

  • The Church’s teaching in relation to the equality of persons or groups of different races is set out in the 2010 House of Bishops’ theological statement Affirming our Common Humanity.
  • In making a declaration of incompatibility the House of Bishops took account of the constitutions of both parties and published statements on their behalf, including, for example, the BNP’s manifesto for the last General Election (“Democracy, Freedom, Culture and Identity”) which is published on the BNP website.

John Bingham reports for The Telegraph that Church of England bans clergy from ‘un-Christian’ BNP and National Front.

Matthew Taylor writes in The Guardian that Church of England bans clergy from joining BNP or National Front.

Pink News BNP furious after Church of England bans clergy from having party membership

55
Leave a Reply

avatar
3000
55 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
37 Comment authors
robert ian WilliamsBobFather DavidTurbulent PriestErika Baker Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

Good job Fr Blagden-Gamlen of East church Shelley is no longer with us!

robert ian williams
Guest
robert ian williams

What a dangerous precedent….so you can belong to liberal parties which endorse serious departures of the moral law, which are as bad as racism.

However like their gay marriage policy for clergy,will they enforce it?

Concerned Anglican
Guest
Concerned Anglican

We hear from time to time in the press of maverick members of UKIP expressing opinions that resemble those of the BNP and National Front. I wonder if the bishops would care to say anything about that?

Richard
Guest
Richard

With lovely placement on the Guardian website, this story was directly above ‘England fans asked to behave “like priests”‘…

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

Racism: very bad indeed, and membership of a racist organisation is incompatible with employment by the CofE.

Homophobia, on the other hand…

FrDavidH
Guest
FrDavidH

Clergy joining the BNP is pretty bad – but not as incompatible with the Christian Faith as subscribing to Anglican Mainstream or Reform.

JCF
Guest
JCF

How sad, that the bishops feel they HAVE to declare this.

[“liberal parties which endorse serious departures of the moral law, which are as bad as racism.” Do tell, RIW: what would those be? I’m dying to know.]

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Should the ethnic cleansing of the Canaanites be expunged from the bibles in churches, then? Or the passages that speak of only a few people inheriting eternal life. That is hardly equality. And what about political parties that create wealth inequalities and divides, through their policies? On that basis, membership of the Conservative Party might be questionable for priests. To what extent do Church of England clergy (and the deans and bishops) reflect the ethnicities of the country? How many black or Asian bishops do we have in London? I have no time at all for the British National Party,… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

In response to Robert I Williams: Does the Roman Catholic Church allow its ministers to be members of these Fascist-style parties? I realise it could never enforce this discipline on the Faithful Laity, some of whom could actually be members.

Stephen Morgan
Guest
Stephen Morgan

The House of Bishops has issued a ban on its clergy joining the CofE party because of that organisation’s stance on ‘equality of persons of different gender and persons of differing sexual orientation.’

Disgraced
Guest
Disgraced

Can you just imagine the relief in the House of Bishops? “At last, something we can all agree on! Even easier than the vexed question of whether we should have chocolate or plain digestives with our tea during Lent”. Old rivalries would have been forgotten, the world could be flat, round or pear shaped; it no longer mattered; disagreements about basic human rights sidelined, even old wounds re the ordination of women covered over. Clergy should not be members of the BNP – Agreed. See it’s so easy – don’t grapple with real questions that matter but stick to unity… Read more »

ian
Guest
ian

Good job Fr Blagden-Gamlen of East church Shelley is no longer with us

I expect there are many reasons it is a good job Fr Blagden – Gamlen is no longer with us, not least the green pom pom on his biretta. However I did enjoy looking up which churches were DSCR!

robert ian williams
Guest
robert ian williams

I totally disagree with the racist views of these bodies, but why the double standard , sin is sin.

How can you be in a party which advocates other positions which are opposed to traditional Christian morality?

That is the KEY question. I raised this with my union, if you exclude BNP members who is next on the list?

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

For the record Fr B-G was vicar of East church Isle of Sheppey…I’m afraid my tablet keyboard has a mind of its own at times! Still,in his favour, he did give us that guide to churches that offered ” full catholic privileges “..so handy in my misspent anglo-catholic youth!

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

Fr Blagdon-Gamlen was at Eastchurch on the Isle of Sheppy in Kent. I too remember pouring over the Church Travellers’ Directory and finding the DSCR churches. ‘Forgive our foolish ways’.

JCF
Guest
JCF

But when “traditional Christian morality” IS the sin-is-sin, RIW? For me, *that* the question…

CharlieS
Guest
CharlieS

“Clergy joining the BNP is pretty bad – but not as incompatible with the Christian Faith as subscribing to Anglican Mainstream or Reform.

Posted by: FrDavidH on Tuesday, 3 June 2014 at 10:12pm BST”

Given that next month General Synod will be passing legislation on Women Bishops that includes a specific commitment to the flourishing of the view that Reform represents (on Women Bishops at least), and based on an appeal to ‘trust us, we aren’t against you’ – I wonder if anyone here is willing to distance themselves from David’s comment?

Any of the Bishops who post on here regularly perhaps?

Stephen Morgan
Guest
Stephen Morgan

The HofB new-found passion for banning things is a little worrying. They seem to want to control aspects of clergy life that go way beyond the remit asked for at ordination. There was all that bold type in their ‘pastoral statement,’ and now they seem to want to tell us who we can or cannot vote for. They don’t get it, do they? This is a FREE country! Before the recent local/European elections all kinds of rare and bizarre fruitcakes appeared on prime-time BBC spouting vile nonsense, but that is what living in a democracy entails. You are free NOT… Read more »

Clive Sweeting
Guest
Clive Sweeting

In response to a remark above I recall bishop Joseph Rozier of Poitiers (died 1994) refusing Catechumen status to a member of the Front National.
The issue was discussed about that time in the Nouvelle République de Centre-Ouest.I do not believe Bishop Rozier was alone in taking this stance.

Jean Mayland (Revd)
Guest
Jean Mayland (Revd)

I think that the Bishop’s action is not acceptable and I trust Synod will object and there will be a debate. I would never in the world support either of these organizations but I work on the principle that I may detest a group but I will defend to the last a person’s right to CHOOSE what they do.We are not the Roman Catholic Church.

Andrew F. Pierce
Guest

“I feel that political control of priests and church members is a very slippery slope.”

Everyone who takes a pulpit (or humbly stands on the floor in lieu) is trying to exert some sort of moral control. In this day and age that necessarily translate into political control …

Paul
Guest
Paul

I think that the BNP and NF are odious. However I have serious reservations in it being made a disciplinary matter for clergy to join a lawful political party.

Andrew F. Pierce
Guest

From the Telegraph: “A legal explanation issued by the Church of England quotes a passage from St Paul’s letter to the Galatians which insists: “There is no such thing as Jew and Greek, slave and freeman, male and female, for you are all one person in Christ Jesus.”” (a good clarification, but it adds:) “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… Read more »

peter kettle
Guest
peter kettle

I am of the Perry Butler / Richard Ashby vintage, but I can’t remember what DSCR stands for….

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

D daily Eucharist
S sung Eucharist every Sunday
C confessions at announced times
R reservation of the sacrament

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“I wonder if anyone here is willing to distance themselves from David’s comment?” I assumed it was a dark joke, one that perhaps points to some inconsistency. Stephen Morgan made a similar point without making references. I struggle with the ban on joining a party, freedom of expression and all that. Yet here in the US, I don’t think it would be compatible to be an Episcopal Priest and a member of the Ku Klux Klan, for example. But the KKK is responsible for actual violence, and I don’t know if that’s true about your BNP. Is the BNP more… Read more »

ian
Guest
ian

Correct Simon, and those of us with a really foolish anglo catholic youth would ink in I and B against the appropriate churches! Foolish times but I don’t regret a moment of it!

Chris H.
Guest
Chris H.

A dark joke? Considering the attitude on display here in many posts regarding conservatives I assumed he was just presenting the obvious and nobody disagreed because he was just pointing out the general “truth” those here accept. How does one encourage minorities if the only black bishop I can name in the CoE is a conservative who’s against gay marriage? What do you do when minority raced priests hold minority positions? Praise them or fire them? Which minority is more important than the others? Should one boycott a priest or bishop because of one theological position? Do conservative bishops spend… Read more »

Tim M
Guest
Tim M

If the church wants to tackle racism and prejudice, it needs to go after UKIP. The BNP and NF are finished as groups with any mainstream appeal. Now, under a veil of “libertarianism” and with a one-line, catch-all policy of “taking our country back”, UKIP provides a space where racist and fascist ideas are not just debated, but also validated. The church is still meant to be present in the white working class communities targeted by UKIP and should be speaking up much louder about the Party’s dangers.

Jo
Guest
Jo

The BNP are a group of violent neo-nazis, who advocate “well placed boots and fists” as a political tactic. They were instrumental in setting up the terrorist group Combat 18 (18 representing AH – Adolf Hitler – in case you were wondering) although they subsequently fell out. They are way, way worse than the tea party. The tea party has more in common with UKIP (who are still pretty bad, but not as bad as the BNP).

jnwall
Guest
jnwall

Times change — on June 5th, 1928, William Guerry, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, was murdered by one of his own priests who believed that Bishop Guerry was planning actions that “harmed the principle of white supremacy.”

More here — http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20130609/PC1204/130609378

Craig Nelson
Guest
Craig Nelson

The BNP and National Front are extremist entities and this action is both correct and proportionate in my view. Hard to imagine a priest actually holding the views these organisations do espouse but if they did disciplinary action is proportionate.

Adrian Judd
Guest
Adrian Judd

Trade Union membership and the Far Right.

Membership of the National Front, BNP or similar could easily fall foul of the Unite the Union Rulebook, and a member can be censured, including expulsion from Unite: A member may be charged with:

27.1.4 Inciting, espousing or practising discrimination or intolerance amongst
members on grounds of race, ethnic origin, religion, age, gender, disability or
sexual orientation.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“27.1.4 Inciting, espousing or practising discrimination or intolerance amongst members on grounds of race, ethnic origin, religion, age, gender, disability or sexual orientation.”

Given the church fails on the gender and the sexual orientation arms of that, why worry about a few more?

Father David
Guest
Father David

Tim M is quite correct in pointing out that Ukip is a far more pernicious weed in the body politic than either the BNP or the NF. I wonder why the HoBs didn’t include Ukip in its list of verboten political parties? Maybe because, like Nigel who bottled out of standing as the Ukip candidate in either the Eastleigh or Newark by-elections, the bishops are ‘Frit’ when it comes to offending Ukip and their highly dubious political views?

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“Should one boycott a priest or bishop because of one theological position? “ Good question. Remember that I was talking about children and the messages they receive, especially in regard to WO and WB. For adults in an equal society to hear a range of point of views is fine. For girls to witness male supremacy in a clearly unequal world is toxic. It’s probably toxic for the boys too. “Which minority is more important than the others?” Another excellent question. Are children a minority? Perhaps. If so, I would say that they are the most important minority. From another… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

An interesting discussion here. I would guess GS will call this in for debate. I see this in the context of relative inaction last time around, a sort of knee jerk reaction to the Martin Niemöller litany: “we are not going to get caught with our pants down again” sort of approach. Women and gay folk will be struck by the irony. Others have already made wise comments on the way UKIP has just repackaged some of these malevolent policies, Fr David has it correctly, in my view. On another tack. Is not membership of a political party still something… Read more »

John
Guest
John

‘And by the way, where are the views of John. He is always advocating for the inclusion of people who harbour ancient prejudice. Where does he stand with this lot?’ Martin, my friend, thus challenged, I have to respond. (1) The views of the BNP (certainly) and UKIP (more equivocally) are incompatible with Christian universalism. (2) Our pretty useless bishops and archbishops enjoy pontificating on easy issues like this one precisely because they are so useless and mendacious on other ones. (3) I remain committed to Anglican pluralism, difficult as it is and inevitably compromised as it is. We live… Read more »

Tim Barker
Guest
Tim Barker

In answer to Jean Mayland’s point, I think it unlikely that General Synod will do what she suggests since the House of Bishops’ decision is the logical consequence of GS passing a private member’s motion proposed by Vasantha Gnanadoss a couple of years ago. See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/8311104/General-Synod-backs-ban-on-clergy-joining-the-BNP.html

The Rev'd Mervyn Noote
Guest

I am deeply disquieted with this decision. I think there are three problems with it. Firstly, is there a problem with clergy joining neo-Nazi or otherwise openly racist political parties? I’m not aware that there is. So why is a rule being brought in to tackle a problem that isn’t there? It seems to smack of pointless gesture politics. This would be easy enough to ignore, if it wasn’t for the second problem, correctly identified by Stephen Morgan: this is a dramatic extension of the Bishops’ disciplinary remit. Where might this lead to? And the third problem is that identified… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

“Rejoice! Rejoice!” The Newark Ukip fox has been well and truly shot and stuffed long before it got anywhere near the Westminster Hen House. “Trebles all round” Isn’t it about time that the Bishop of St. Ogg’s had a quiet word in the ear of his Chaplain? I’d no idea that Noote was a self proclaimed “pro-EU lefty” and I am equally sure that a monarchy loving arch Conservative like Bishop Cuthbert didn’t know that either. I simply cannot conceive that Noote is really a lefty as I distinctly remember that he has a Scrap Book containing pictures of Princess… Read more »

Robert ian williams
Guest
Robert ian williams

Jean Mayland couldn’t resist a dig at the Roman Catholic Church. Where is her evidence that the Church micro manages political views? Sadly a very mixed message has emerged about excommunicating politicians who condone abortion etc.

This motion before Synod is as silly as saying laity can be gay but not clergy.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Rev’d Mervyn makes valid points. Has anything actually prompted this? Has there been a member of clergy who joined one of these parties and what has been the damage caused? Germany used to (or may still do) prohibit its civil servants from joining the Communist party on the grounds that the aim of communism is a state that is incompatible with German democracy and that a civil servant should not be employed by a state he or she actively seeks to destroy. There is a direct and limited purpose to the prohibition. Prohibiting membership of an extreme political party just… Read more »

The Rev'd Mervyn Noote
Guest

You clearly don’t remember the Church of England in the sixties, Father David. Everyone was a monarchy loving lefty who read The Times. Even many of the Tories were really lefties – Thatcher was an obscure back bencher and Murdoch was, mercifuly, still on the other side of the world. If one was a good Englo-Cartholic, one tended to support the EEC (as it was then) as something that would rescue England from its insular Protestant navel gazing and continued cultural buggering by the Americans. Euroscepticism was something one associated with Communist TUC officials. Meanwhile, back in the present day,… Read more »

Geoff
Guest

“Jean Mayland couldn’t resist a dig at the Roman Catholic Church. Where is her evidence that the Church micro manages political views?” Do the Roman Catholic MPs (including Paul Martin, the prime minister of the day) who were threatened with interdict if they voted for the Civil Marriage Act count? “Prohibiting membership of an extreme political party just because we don’t like what it stands for is dangerous precedent and, as Mervyn points out, highly impractical.” It saddens me to see so many otherwise reasonable “Thinking Anglicans” rushing to defend a misguided notion of inclusivity. I wonder, would Erika allow… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

Dear Noote,
Of course, I remember the so called “Swinging Sixties” but much preferred the 1950s. Yes, the 1960s; wasn’t that the time when those four young shavers from Liverpool started caterwauling and weren’t Students rioting in 1968? Mercifully Lord Clark of Civilisation came along in 1969 to put a stop to all of that with his excellent televisual series reminding us all of finer and higher things.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Geoff, let’s be clear here. There are a number of criteria for whether someone is suitable for a particular role. No chaplain, for example, should be allowed to be anti gay. They would not be able to do their job properly. We all know a large number of anti gay priests. No-one questions their ordination but I would hope that they are not employed in sensitive positions (and yes, there is a borderline because within their own parish ministry they cause a lot of damage – but we’re still not questioning their ordination, we just try to find ways of… Read more »

Geoff
Guest

“I think it would be wrong to throw them out because we happen not to like their political views any longer.”

Thank you, this clarifies the issue. You see racism as one of any number of “political views” one may or may not “like.” I do not.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Geoff,
I see membership of the BNP as a political choice.
Racism is prevalent among Tories and UKIP voters too.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“You see racism as one of any number of “political views” one may or may not “like.” I do not.” I see racism, homophobia, and misogyny as moral issues, and actually as sins. It’s especially sinful when there are acts, policies, or laws that actively hurt people. I’m troubled about the CoE banning membership in a political party because of the moral issue of racism, when they do so badly on the moral issues of homophobia and misogyny. Meanwhile, the moral issues of poverty certainly have strong political overtones, will that lead to more banning? Is it better to at… Read more »