BNP clergy face disciplinary action
Clergy who support or join the British National Party or National Front will face disciplinary proceedings under a new resolution passed by the Church of England.
Church of England bishops have backed a declaration stating that the policies, activities and objectives of the two far-right parties are "incompatible" with Christian teaching on racial equality.
The move means that a complaint of misconduct can be brought under the Clergy Discipline Measure against any cleric who is a member of, promotes or expresses support for the two parties.
The General Synod, or national assembly of the Church of England, will have an opportunity to debate and give formal approval to the declaration when it meets in York next month. If there is no debate, the declaration will automatically come into force at the start of the meeting.
The effective proscribing by the bishops of the two political parties comes after the General Synod gave final approval in 2012 to legislation m aking it ''unbecoming'' or ''inappropriate'' conduct for clergy to be members of a political party with policies and activities declared ''incompatible'' with Church teaching on race equality.
The Church of England bishops were given the power to make a declaration on parties or organisations deemed incompatible with Christian teaching.
Where a political party is deemed to have changed its views, the ban could be lifted by a simple majority vote by the bishops.
The move was first proposed by Vasantha Gnanadoss, a Metropolitan Police civilian worker and General Synod member. She had the backing of the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair.
The British National Party, speaking at the time the move was given final approval by the General Synod, accused the Church of England of being "stuck in the 1970s".
" We are a modern, forward-thinking and progressive nationalist party," a spokesman said.
''We are non-discriminatory and we have a constitution to match.''
He added: ''It is high time that was put out there. The Church of England has to keep up to date - they are stuck in the 1970s.''
A BNP spokesman said today: "This is indicative of the way that the Church of England is being politicised. What is written in the Bible and scripture is clearly of secondary importance to the politically-correct option that these people adhere to.
"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."