The BNP 'marching with bishops'

By Jonathan Bartley
March 26, 2010

There are signs that The Daily Telegraph are beginning to get the relationship between what some Church of England bishops have been saying, and the BNP.

We warned about this in 2007 and I wrote about it in Faith and Politics After Christendom in 2006. Now George Pitcher, the Telegraph's religion editor, blogs: "The BNP's Easter message: Join a Crusade near you. And they march with our bishops". (HT to for drawing this to my attention).

Pitcher notes, referring to Nick Griffin: "But what also catches my eye is that in referring to 'Britain…being colonised by hordes of Muslim immigrants', Nick says that 'some areas are now ‘no-go’ areas for Christians.'

"This is precisely the same form of words that the former Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, used in describing the Muslim “threat”. I don’t for a moment suggest that there is a shred of compatibility between the views of Dr Nazir-Ali and the loathsome BNP. Nor are the opinions of former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey in the same political universe as Nick Griffin, when he says that Christians must be more robust about their faith.

"But these bishops, who after all are the genuine Christian article in contrast to the warped usurping of our faith by the BNP, should know who is getting most mileage out of the vocabulary with which they choose to express themslves."

Pitcher is on the right track. He is rightly acknowledging the overlap in rhetoric, and is to my knowledge the first journalist on a national newspaper to do so. He focuses though, on the references to Islam. But actually there are more similarities than he has so far noted, and there are more bishops to be named, such as John Sentamu.

On Monday Nick Griffin publicly expressed his support for Sentamu and Nazir Ali. Why? Not just because of the 'Christian Nation' language the bishops have used, but because of their identification of Christianity with the nation state, and culture, which is in fact not that far at all from the 'political universe' the BNP inhabit.

The second point is that some bishops have been taken in (like some newspapers) by the 'victimisation' claims of some Christian groups. Perpetuated by CCFON amongst others, the claim is that Christians are now an oppressed minority in need to special protections in the face of growing perseuction. This is also a theme common to Nazir Ali, George Carey and John Sentamu. But this is also something that the BNP is feeding on.

The Church has been in denial for too long about this. We raised thess issues privately before 2007 with people in the Church, who dismissed it as unimportant. Meanwhile Christians continued to join the BNP.

We have advocated a different approach to the BNP based more on the example and approach of Jesus Christ, than appeals to cultural Christianity which are ill suited to post-Christendom and play right into the BNP's hands.

Keywords:george pitcher | bnp
Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.