LONDON – The British National Party plans to launch a new advertising campaign featuring Jesus Christ and his teaching on persecution.
According to think tank Ekklesia, the ad quotes John 15:20, in which Jesus says: "If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you."
The ad then asks: "What would Jesus do?"
The party's leader, Nick Griffin, sent an email to BNP supporters on Sunday, explaining that the aim of the ad was to attract more Christian voters.
The BNP is "the only political party which genuinely supports Britain's Christian heritage" and "will defend our ancient faith and nation from the threat of Islamification," he said, according to Ekklesia.
Griffin also criticized moves within the church to ban membership in the BNP, referring to the recent vote in the Church of England's General Synod banning Church members from joining the party.
"Jesus was viewed as a revolutionary figure, hated and hounded to death, not by 'evil men' but by the corrupt hypocrites who ran the church. Has nothing changed in two thousand years?" he wrote.
"On June 4th, the leaders of Britain's churches will find out that millions of good decent people support the British National Party. It's not racist to support British jobs for British workers or to be opposed to militant Islam, it's just common sense and in line with the teachings of Jesus Christ."
Co-director of Ekklesia, Jonathan Bartley, denounced the ad, calling it a "gross misrepresentation" of Jesus Christ and Christianity.
"Jesus was completely opposed to bigotry. He is recorded in the Gospels as challenging those who didn't welcome foreigners - not as working for their exclusion," he said.