Methodist Church bars members from joining BNP

Published 10 July 2009

The Methodist Church has passed a motion at its annual Conference banning members from joining the BNP.

The motion bars members of the Methodist Church from joining any political party “whose constitution, aims or objectives promote racism”, but especially the far-right BNP.

The motion was proposed by the Rev Sylvester Deigh, who told the Conference that racism was “a denial of the Gospel”.

“An openness to all people, regardless of nationality, is at the heart of Methodist identity,” he said.

The motion makes clear that supporters of racist parties are still God’s children and are not, therefore, being barred from attending a Methodist church.

“(The motion) does not mean that people will be excluded from attending church – God welcomes all, saints and sinners alike,” he said.

“But it does mean that members of racist political parties will not be able to become full members of the Church.”

The Church of England passed a similar ban at its General Synod in February. It came after a list of 12,000 BNP members leaked onto the internet last year was found to include five clergy, one of whom was a retired Anglican priest.

The BNP has faced repeated criticism from Church leaders over its anti-immigration policies and attempts to fashion itself as a Christian party, with Baptist leader the Rev Jonathan Edwards calling its appropriation of the Christian language and imagery “deeply offensive”.

In the run-up to the European elections, leaders of the main denominations took the party to task after it launched a poster campaign featuring Jesus and quoting his teachings on persecution.

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