In Holy Week, I had intended that this blog would simply carry reflective observations of the stations of the cross, and, on Friday, the last words of Jesus from the cross. Alas, when I saw a report that the British National Party (BNP) has used an image of Jesus and a scripture from John 15:20 “If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.”on its latest poster for the June European elections , I just had to share something with you. The poster goes on to say What would Jesus do? Vote BNP. Now, by any standards it is quite a leap to suggest that because Jesus warned his supporters about persecution, then he would put his cross against the BNP candidate in the forthcoming Euro elections. The poster makes for an interesting talking point about just how far people will go to legitimise their views by associating themselves with Jesus. If we believe everything we read Jesus is both anti- and pro homosexuals ; anti and pro-women priests; anti- and pro-social welfare; anti and pro-bankers; added to this list is now the suggestion that as Jesus was committed to freedom and against persecution he must be for a right-wing extremist party just because it finds itself condemned by mainstream political opinion. Perhaps the real truth of this incident is a warning against those of us wearing wristbands and T-shirts bearing the slogan WWJD? and claiming sincere exclusivity about what that slogan means. The truth us that as we all have our own agendas we want to shoehorn them into Christological legitimacy by claiming Jesus’ support for our world view. Jesus is the saviour of all humankind, whatever their world view and a saviour of surprises, but the claim of the BNP that Jesus would support them because they are concerned with protecting, as they see it, Britain’s Christian heritage and Christian values may surpise even Christ. The poster has been condemned by various church groups and in West Yorkshire the Ecumenical Council has mounted a counter campaign with the slogan- “Use your cross- Vote for hope in Yorkshire” to mobilise voters to keep out the BNP saying; ” The Christian vision of society is one where each person is treated with dignity and respect, whatever their face or religion. It is a vision of hope.” Christ’s message was indeed one of hope, love, inclusion and justice. Jesus suggested that loving God and our neighbours as ourselves was central to his outlook on how we should live our lives if we were serious about bringing in his kingdom, so let’s check these things out in the BNP manifesto for the Euro elections. Let’s see if rather than touting for more crosses on a ballot paper, BNP candidates are prepared to truly take on board what it means to take up the cross of Christ and follow him.
Please note that I have included an image of the poster to illustrate this blog post only. I am not encouraging blog readers to suport or vote for the BNP. I do not believe that the BNP is persecuted for saying what I think as their poster suggests.