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The BBC is not doing well on its reporting of religion this election. Firstly it wrote a highly speculative article about the role of religion in influencing the election - completely ignoring the substantial evidence on the subject.
Now it is reporting the 'news': 'BNP banned from Lichfield Diocese church hustings'.
The BBC headline is misleading for two reasons. As the BBC article itself makes it clear, the diocese has not in fact "banned" the BNP. Rather the diocese has just issued 'guidance' to its churches. It is up to individual churches to decide whether to act on the guidance.
Secondly, the headline should really be 'Diocese follows Church of England guidance'. The C of E issued this guidance through the Archbishops’ Council Mission and Public Affairs Division on 1st February. This advised churches not to invite extremist candidates to their hustings.
Gavin Drake, the diocesan communications officer quoted in the article, doesn't seem to have realised this, or, if he has, told this to the BBC. That or the message just didn't get through to the Beeb.
Anyway, this is neither a 'ban'. Nor is it news.
We have about 100 articles covering the relationship between the BNP and churches/ Christianity, going back to 2004, which can be found here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/bnp
[Update: 14.36 The BBC has now published another article about the guidance being implemented it in another part of the country - this time Lancashire: 'Archbishop backs Lancaster BNP debate ban'. Should be titled: 'Archbishop stands by his own guidance']
[Update: 23.50 Gavin Drake seems to have had a bit of a battering on Twitter over this. We have often been on the receiving end ourselves from the BNP after we exposed what they were doing. Thoughts and prayers for him I am sure would be appreciated.]Tweet