Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Church intervention in the political process

I USED to get upset and depressed when church leaders attacked the political parties promoting British nationalism of which I was a member. This feeling was probably something to do with my strict Christian upbringing which meant that until I went to boarding school in 1962, I was hauled off to church every Sunday morning at 11.00 and sometimes back again for Evensong at 6.30pm.

But such criticism doesn't worry me any more and, in fact, as far as the British National Party is concerned in today's political climate, I welcome the intervention into the political process made this morning in the Northern Echo by the Bishop of Durham.

The newspaper reports:
"ONE of the Church of England's most senior clergymen last night issued a hard-hitting warning about the growing threat of far-right extremism resulting from voters "giving up hope" in mainstream politics.
In a rare move, the Bishop of Durham issued a rallying cry to North-East churches to join forces to thwart the British National Party (BNP) in the forthcoming local elections.
The Right Reverend Tom Wright, called for more to be done by political parties to stop the rise of the BNP.
In an open letter, the bishop said people could not afford to become complacent and his warning was endorsed by all the major political parties."

I don't know where the Northern Echo has been for the last five years in describing the church's interference in elections as "a rare move". Every May, and sometimes even for a particular local council by-election, the church issues the same message telling people not to vote for the BNP. It is old hat, this intrusion in the election process, and in recent years has had no other effect than to provide the BNP with some welcome publicity.

In the Northern Echo, the BNP's North East Secretary Ken Booth was given the opportunity to respond to the Bishop of Durham and said:
"This is not his place at all. He should be trying to regain his flock.
"While the bishop's banging on about how evil the BNP is, he is going to find out one day that there will be more practising Muslims going to mosques than any practising churches in Britain."

While in the Sunderland Echo, Sunderland BNP organiser Alan Brettwoood, who is standing as a candidate in Southwick in May's council election, said the bishop should stay out of politics and be more concerned with what's going on in the church.
"The election is a democratic process and it's really strange how religion is starting to intervene. Religion and politics are two totally different things," he said.
"The bishop is intervening in the political process by asking people not to vote for the BNP, he should be concentrating on what's happening in his own religion."
He added: "The press have always given us this bad image of being thugs and Nazis. We're not thugs, we're not Nazis, we're just ordinary, hard-working people that want the best for our country – what's wrong with that?"

This close to polling day, getting the chance to have some well chosen BNP responses so highly publicised can only raise the profile of our campaign.

I missed Dispatches on Channel 4 last night and I'm annoyed about it. I had completely forgotten it was on. I was greeted at six this morning by an 'inbox' full of praise for the programme and had a call from Nick Griffin just after eight who was enthusing over the advert for the series of three programmes on immigration. He said that the trailer of a bulldog in a park gradually getting swamped by foreign dogs was a powerful media image and we should look to use it to encourage debate on the controversial issue.

The Dispatches programme is an enigma. Two years ago it appeared to be for everything that a nationalist would oppose. Now its programmes almost have a nationalist script. One correspondent this morning said last night's programme could have easily been produced by BNPtv!

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a story on the main website about a leaflet being distributed in Carlisle by a Labour Party front organisation called Carlisle against Racism and sponsored by the GMB trade union which claimed to show a photo of Nick Griffin doing a nazi salute. Well, now it appears that the leaflet has been withdrawn and Carlisle Against Racism have admitted that the photograph wasn't of Nick Griffin. This should be a newsworthy story for our local newspaper the News & Star. But the newspaper has shamelessly promoted this organisation and its meetings . . . so I won't be holding my breath waiting for its report.

1 comment:

alanorei said...

The Bible says, 'prove all things' 1 Thessalonians 5:21a.

If His Grace My Lord Bishop can't come up with 'chapter and verse' on why the BNP is 'racist,' 'Nazi,' 'far right*' etc., then he's an apostate.

*Not 'far wrong,' that's for sure!

As our cousins across the pond would say, they are 'a dime a dozen' these days in the Anglican hierarchy.