Leaders of the main churches in Norwich have urged voters not to be misled by the BNP candidate standing in the Norwich by-election.
Robert West, who appears to have given himself the title ‘Rev’, is standing for the racist party but is not known to belong to any church.
In a statement church leaders in Norwich, including the Bishop of Norwich Graham James, urged voters not to be taken in.
“The British National Party candidate styles himself as ‘Rev’ and is often to be seen dressed as a clergyman” they said.
“He belongs to no known denomination and voters should not be misled by his adoption of clerical dress.
“The policies he promotes are not shared by any of the Churches we serve and are contrary to the teaching of the New Testament. There we read that in Christ ‘there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female’”.
The statement comes after Ekklesia’s co-director Jonathan Bartley, confronted the BNP representative on BBC1’s The Big Questions last month.
Since 2005 Ekklesia has highlighted how the BNP has been attempting to portray itself as a ‘Christian’ party, but also how some church leaders have been playing into the BNP’s hands by using the rhetoric of ‘Christian Britain’.
Robert West first came to Ekklesia’s attention when he set up the BNP front organisation 'The Christian Council of Britain' in 2006, believed to have a membership of one.
Despite unified condemnation of the BNP's racism by the major denominations in the UK Ekklesia's analysis of the BNP membership list revealed that a number of self-identified Christians were members of the party.
The full list of signatories to the statement was:
The Rt. Rev. Graham James, Bishop of Norwich (Church of England)
The Rt. Rev. Michael Evans, Bishop of East Anglia (Roman Catholic)
The Rev. Graham Thompson, East Anglia District (Methodist Church)
The Rev. Richard Lewis, Regional Minister, Norfolk (Baptist Union)
The Rev. Paul Whittle, Moderator Eastern Province (United Reformed Church)
John Myhill (Society of Friends)