(Photo: Reuters/Yui Mok)
The Church of England has declared that it is banning its clergy from joining the British National Party and the National Front, claiming that the groups teach ideologies against Anglican principles and hold racist views.
The CofE's House of Bishops announced in a statement on Monday that they had decided at a meeting in May to "declare that the constitution, policies, objectives, activities or public statements of the National Front are incompatible with the teaching of the Church of England in relation to the equality of persons or groups of different races."
A further explanation by the bishops reminds clergy that by canon law, they are required "at all times [to] be diligent to frame and fashion their lives according to the doctrine of Christ, and to make [themselves] wholesome examples and patterns to the flock of Christ."
The bishops add that if clergy associated themselves with parties or organizations who go against the teaching of the Church on racial equality, "it would bring the Church into disrepute and the ministry of those clergy would be compromised."
A church spokesman said that "if you look at both the BNP and NF and their manifestos and declarations it is quite clear they are racist groups," The Guardian reported on Tuesday.
The BHP, founded in 1982, believes the CofE made the declaration out of political reasons, and not because it is following the Bible.
"This is indicative of the way that the Church of England is being politicized. What is written in the Bible and Scripture is clearly of secondary importance to the politically correct option that these people adhere to," a BNP spokesman said.
"Where is it going to end? Are BNP members going to be allowed to be buried any more in churches? Is that where it is going to end? It makes you wonder. It is very sad to see the church go along with this."
On its website, the party describes itself as "a patriotic, democratic alternative to the old parties that have wrecked our great country."
"Native British are now treated like second-class citizens in our own country, whilst asylum-seekers and immigrants are pushed to the front of the queue for housing, jobs and benefits," it adds of the problems it sees in Britain.
"Towns and cities all over our beautiful country now resemble parts of Africa or Asia. British people have become a minority in many areas already, and within a few decades, we will become a minority across the country as a whole."
Other websites such as Hope Not Hate, which says it is for a "modern and inclusive Britain," have documented numerous instances throughout BNP's history which seemingly point to a racist ideology. The website states that when the party was founded by John Tyndall, it was "easily identified with Nazism through its extreme and provocative activities, associations and publications as well as its active denial of the facts of the Holocaust."
The National Front, the other group in question, identifies as a "radical racial nationalist movement made up of a confederation of semi-autonomous branches" and says that its primary objectives are to "ensure the survival and advancement of the White Race and the British Nation."
CofE clarified that the declaration to ban clergy from these parties will be laid out before the General Synod at a July meeting in York, and unless 25 members of the Synod ask for a debate, it should come into effect.