Church of England clergy banned from BNP membership
The Church of England has voted in favour of legislation banning the clergy from joining racist or discriminatory political parties such as the BNP.
On the second day of the General Synod, the majority of the church’s legislative body voted for the legislation preventing the clergy from joining any political that were “incompatible” with the teaching of the Church of England. Such an allegiance was said to be an “unbecoming” and “inappropriate” conduct for members of the Church.
Under the proposal, the bishops would make a declaration on parties or organisations deemed incompatible with Christian values.
The bishops would also have the power to ban an organisation just as long as a 2/3-majority vote favoured the motion.
The ban can be lifted by the church by a simple majority vote by the bishops if the political party is believed to have changed their views.
Speaking before Synod on Saturday, the bishop of Guildford, the Rt Rev Christopher Hill, said: “The legislation was about something of vital importance to the body of Christ: our care and concern for the equality of all human beings as created by god and redeemed in Christ.”
In an interview, he said the measure was an important symbolic stance although at this stage hypothetical, as no members of the Church are known to be members of such parties. “We felt we had to do this in principle because some people are claiming in the name of Christianity for obnoxious social teaching against Christian faith and […] against the common good and equality.”
The move was first proposed by Vasantha Ganadoss, a Metropolitan police civilian worker and Synod members who warned of the potential for BNP to grow in influence.
The BNP has criticised the ban, accusing the Church of England of hypocrisy insisting that the Church was not a non-discriminatory organisation and had modified its constitution.