I hadn’t heard of The Christian Council of Britain until yesterday. I was watching a debate on BBC Tv’s The Big Questions about the BNP and to my surprise saw a Christian minister Rev Robert West (in dog collar) a failed BNP candidate in the recent Euro elections saying that it is God’s will to “preserve nations as ethnic groups”. The other BNP rep on the show said that the people have a tendency to “caricature the policies of the BNP with an emotional tirade.” I know nothing about the Rev West, but under challenge from Jonathan Bartley he would not reveal how many people were members of his organisation, so I went on line to check it out. Its mission statement is (my highlights):
“To promote Christian views and values in our Nation and society; and to counteract cultural and ideological challenges and threats from extreme ideologies which would seek to undermine, persecute, or legally prosecute Britain’s national and Christian heritage as a basis for an attack on the free, open, liberal and democratic nature of her People, and of their society. The Christian Council of Britain has been set up to fulfill this Mission Statement through national and local campaigning and by obtaining a voice in the media for patriotic Christians. We promote and defend the Christian stance in government consultations on policy and legislation and we challenge anti-Christian, anti-family propaganda and activities in the media, the professions and wherever else they occur. We will work with like-minded organisations to end the undermining of Britain’s Christian family morality and Christian heritage from whatever source these attacks, insidious or overt, long-term or sudden, originate from.
As the Rev West was so evasive about the numbers and backing for his organisation. I checked out what Churches Together has to say about The Christian Council of Britain:
Churches Together in Britain and Ireland associates itself with the recent statement from the Methodist Church concerning a body calling itself the “Christian Council of Britain”, and wishes to make absolutely clear that there is no connection between CTBI or its predecessor the British Council of Churches and the “Christian Council of Britain”.The statement from the Methodist Church said: A body calling itself the Christian Council of Britain and apparently associated with the BNP recently started joining protests against Jerry Springer: The Opera. Anthea Cox, Methodist Coordinating Secretary for Public Life and Social justice, said, “I am outraged that the BNP and its allies are using Christianity to further their agenda of segregation and division. I think most Christians will be deeply affronted by this and want to speak out against such misguided extremism. We reaffirm our earlier statements that Christian belief is incompatible with any political party or philosophy that is based on hatred or treats people as inferior because of their race, beliefs or for any other reason. We are deeply concerned that some people are now appropriating Christian language and symbols for policies that are the very opposite of Christian values.”
The CCB has claimed that the Bible justifies its support for the BNP’s repatriation policy. But the Revd Ken Howcroft, Coordinating Secretary for Conference and Communication, said “this was a way of interpreting scripture that was used to justify apartheid in South Africa, the banning of mixed-race marriages and the setting up of homelands. The South African Council of Churches condemned this interpretation, and some of the churches that did support this interpretation later formally repented. In Galatians, Paul writes ‘In Christ there is no Jew or Gentile,’ and this makes it clear that there is no Christian basis for racial discrimination or separation.”
Now we know the sort of ‘Christian’ organisation that BNP’s Nick Griffin promised to support in his recent Times interview and the sort of ‘Christian’ values held by the Rev Robert West- More jackboots than Jesus.
In yesterday’s Times Online, Ruth Gledhill reports that according to a cross-party group of Christian MPs “The primary cause of unhappiness in Britain is not lack of material wealth but a loss of faith in God and religion”. In a new report on wellbeing, the MPs say that the Christian voice is not being respected properly because it comes across too often as “negative”. Not exactly a rocket scientist conclusion is it?
The report claims that despite the recent emphasis on “happiness” studies in some schools, and the debates on British identity and wellbeing, Britain is becoming increasingly miserable. It says: “One impetus behind this project was our sense that there is a strong feeling of disaffection among the inhabitants of these islands. It seemed to us that our national sense of wellbeing is at a low ebb; people are wanting something more out of life.”
The MPs say that all legislators, charities and companies should subject decisions to a fivefold test, such as whether the action will encourage people to develop positive relationships in their families and communities and whether the action is socially and globally responsible. The authors argue that if values related to relationships, responsibility, trust, self-esteem and potential – all with their roots in the Judeo-Christian beliefs that once underpinned Western legislative philosophy – were to have greater emphasis in society, everyone’s wellbeing would improve.
I supect many politicians (regardless of religious conviction) will be concerned with relationships, responsibility, trust, self-esteem and potential when they get a kicking in today’s Local and Euro elections. I wonder if the church is sending a special flying squad of chaplains to help them cope, or are they already getting expensive life coaching sessions paid for on expenses?
Flip your second home, vote in the house of commons, clean your moat, redecorate your house, tell a few lies, claim your expenses…surely there must be more to life than this?
For Ruth Gledhill’s full report see http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article3913720.ece
Yesterday I was shopping in my local high street and came across a stall staffed by half- a dozen members of the British National Party (BNP). I could have walked straight passed and ignored them, but decided to ask them a simple question. I first asked the lady behind the stall with all the leaflets- “Could my black British friends join the BNP if they were so minded?”- she wasn’t sure. I then directed the same question at the candidate standing for the BNP. He said emphatically “No!” I asked why not, as this is a British National Party and my black friends are British. He said it was because of the colour of their skin. He then added that he wasn’t racist- it was just a matter of keeping Britain a pure white country. He then got a bit of a history lesson from me about the so called ‘purity’ of the very mixed race nation that is Great Britain and our very proud history as a tolerant and inclusive nation. After around 10 minutes of this he then started to get angry, raised his voice and completely disengaged from any kind of rational and informed discussion. He saw me as someone who had betrayed his vision of a pure, white nation. A woman who was giving out leaflet swore at me when I took a couple, tore them up and then put them in the waste bin.
On this day of Pentecost we remember how the Lord sent his comforter- the Holy Spirit- who then inspired and equipped the apostles to go out to the nations with the life-transforming message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This message would set the prisoners free, clothe the naked,bring hope for the poor, feed the hungry and care for the fatherless. For over two thousand years it has been a message of hope, love and inclusion that pays no regard to colour, creed or nation- the first truly international faith.
My conversation with the BNP reminded me just how for from the central message of Christ- love and inclusion- their policies are and has made sure that I will be voting in the forthcoming elections if only to help ensure they get no encouragement whatsover. If you are reading this as a Christian, atheist, agnostic, humanist and you despise racism and what it stands for then please think about casting your vote on June 4th for any party but the BNP. Show them that Britain’s not racist.