Monday, 9 February 2009

Anglican Priests in the British National Party

Until I came to the UK, as far as I knew, the abbreviation BNP stood for the Banque Nationale de Paris. However, Banque Nationale de Paris merged with Banque Paribas in the late 1990s and the merged entity is now called BNP Paribas. The British National Party is however a totally different animal from the French bank. Openly racist, its mission statement is set out in its website

The British National Party exists to secure a future for the indigenous peoples of these islands in the North Atlantic which have been our homeland for millennia. We use the term indigenous to describe the people whose ancestors were the earliest settlers here after the last great Ice Age and which have been complemented by the historic migrations from mainland Europe.

Its immigration policy is summed up in the following words:

On current demographic trends, we, the native British people, will be an ethnic minority in our own country within sixty years.

To ensure that this does not happen, and that the British people retain their homeland and identity, we call for an immediate halt to all further immigration, the immediate deportation of criminal and illegal immigrants, and the introduction of a system of voluntary resettlement whereby those immigrants who are legally here will be afforded the opportunity to return to their lands of ethnic origin assisted by a generous financial incentives both for individuals and for the countries in question.

We will abolish the ‘positive discrimination’ schemes that have made white Britons second-class citizens. We will also clamp down on the flood of ‘asylum seekers’, all of whom are either bogus or can find refuge much nearer their home countries.

In short, the BNP doesn’t like non-European (that is non-white) migrants. The BNP has a presence all over the UK, including Scotland and Wales.

Since it is accepted that the BNP is racist and opposes racial equality, police officers are barred from membership of the BNP. However, when in November 2008, the BNP’s list of members was leaked (may be intentionally) and posted on the internet, it was found that some of BNP’s members were police offices, members of the prison services, government employees, teachers etc. It was also revealed that the BNP’s strongholds are places like Lancashire, Yorkshire and Essex where the economy is not doing very well.

This week the Church of England plans to debate a motion which will bar Anglican clergymen from belonging to the BNP. To be honest, initially I found the possibility that some priests could be BNP supporters quite shocking. I guess if BNP members are scattered throughout the UK and in every walk of life, some of them can be found to be wearing dog collars.

The Anglican Church has many priests from among the ethnic minorities, with some of them holding very high positions. Dr. John Sentamu, Archbishop of York and Dr. Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester come to my mind immediately. My own feel is that most Anglican priests are non-racist and very decent human beings. I welcome the fact that the Anglican Church has shown the courage to confront the demons within itself so openly, though it is bound to raise eyebrows.


JI said...

I was disappointed but not totally surprised to learn that there are a few Anglican priests who are members of the BNP. There are Christians in this country who regard non-EU immigrants as a threat to their faith - this despite the fact that in Christianity a central tenet is the equality of all human beings. There have been cases in recent years in UK were Christians have been victimised simply for their faith. Here's an example:

Christian foster mother struck off after Muslim girl converts

In this case a Christian foster mother was struck off after a Muslim girl she was looking after converted to Christianity, although she did not pressurise the girl and the girl was 16 years of age - hardly an immature age to decide on matters of faith.

Cases like this and others gives you the impression that anti-discrimination laws in this country actually work in favour of other faiths over Christianity. We may indeed be living in the post-Christian era in UK, but there is a need for a balanced approach to people of all faiths without special treatment for any one.

However, I do welcome the Church of England's decision to debate the issue of priests being members of the BNP. There should be no place for racism within the church. I think generally the Anglican Church is more progressive than the Catholic Church.

Winnowed said...

I don't think the example you have given is appropriate. The case you have cited is one where a local council took a foster parent off its rolls because one of the foster mother's wards converted from Islam to Christianity. Though I agree that the local council was being silly, this is not an example of racism against an Asian Christian by a local Christian.

The sad fact is that people all over the world tend to give importance to race, irrespective of religion. The whole of South America converted to Christianity, but it didn't stop the Spanish and Portuguese from expoiting them. The Amercians had slaves, almost all of whom were converted Christians. Even in India, upper caste Christians don't particularly get along with the lower caste Christians. This is one of those topics where I can go on and on and forms one of the main themes of my novel 'Hitchhiker.'

JI said...

I didn't initially view this piece in the prism of racism by local white Christians to non-white Christians, although I agree totally that this happens. Some white practising Christians are probably some of the most racist of all people, and like it or not, they believe non-white, largely non-Christian, immigrants are a threat to their religious heritage in this country. I think the BNP panders to this fear, but the BNP is not a religious party. As society becomes more secular, and cases of Christians being slighted seem to increase, there is the possibility that more white Christians may be drawn to far right, anti-immigrant parties like the BNP. I think it is therefore right that the Church of England tries to distance itself from the BNP.

Truebrit said...

Since it is accepted that the BNP is racist and opposes racial equality,

Accepted by who? Where is your proof that the BNP is racist?