The British National Party has stooped to new levels in using a picture of Jesus and quoting the Bible in their European election campaign. Claiming they are a victims of persecution, the party's new poster advert quotes Jesus “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” (John 15:20) The advert then asks: “What would Jesus do?”
Nick Griffin claims: “The British National Party is the only political party which genuinely supports Britain's Christian heritage. It is the only party which will defend our ancient faith and nation from the threat of Islamification. What has become of the Christian church in this country?"
Targeting the Church of England and the recent overwhelming decision of General Synod to ban clergy from membership of the BNP, Griffin argues,
"Instead of inclusively ‘embracing all’ which the church claims is its basis, certain groups within that body have banned people from their ranks simply because of their membership in the British National Party. Surely if God calls a man to his service, no church has the right to contradict HIS holy will! For many years, the churches in this country scrupulously avoided being politically biased. Nowadays however we see a small number of clerics and bishops openly preaching hatred towards the BNP."
According to the Telegraph, "Spokesmen for the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu and for the Church of England refused to comment saying the BNP was mounting a "publicity stunt" designed to give the party the "oxygen of publicity".
However, the Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, Bishop of Manchester, accused the party last week of preaching a message of "division and hatred" and urged people not to vote for them in the European elections on June 4.
Anne Thomas, writing in Christian Today says "The Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church said they wanted to reminded people of the true Christian message of love for all people following the inclusion of Jesus in the poster."
Christine Elliott, Secretary for External Relations for The Methodist Church, said: “When Jesus was asked about what was the most important rule of life he said, 'Love God with all of your being and love your neighbour as yourself.'
“It’s ironic that the BNP is using the world’s most famous Jew to promote its racist message. Our traditions have a history of promoting racial justice and inclusion and rejecting messages of hate and fear. It is always important that people go out and vote, especially in these extremely difficult economic times. Sadly, in the past, economic problems have been exploited by extremists as opportunities to scapegoat minorities.”Co-director of Ekklesia, Jonathan Bartley, said the advert was 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.
During the debate in Gerneral Synod, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, were among the Synod members who backed the motion.
Dr Williams said, “There is a theological issue, one of whether someone who accepts their policies can conceivably have the sensibility required of a Christian pastor who has responsibility for the whole parish.
"I think we have to name names, we have to talk about particular political organisations and not just racism in general.”Dr Sentamu told Synod he was from the Baganda tribe but added, “The day I became a Christian I joined another tribe. It is the tribe of Jesus Christ and in that tribe all are welcome, all are invited, all are accepted. There is therefore now no Jew, Greek, slave, free, male or female, because all are in Christ. So how could you be a member of such a tribe and then seek another group to belong to that actually contradicts that very message?”
See here for more on the Church and the BNP.
See also Bishop Attacks BNP