In a statement that will raise concerns amongst many churches, a national spokesman for the far Right British National Party has claimed that many of its members are 'Christians'.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph about their plans to field a Muslim candidate in the local elections in Sunderland, Phil Edwards, its national spokesman, said; "Many of our members are Christians, some are Jews and some are Muslims."
The far-Right British National Party is fielding a record 221 candidates in this week's council elections.
For the first time, a Muslim candidate is standing, in Sunderland, where the party is fighting for all 25 seats.
The candidate is Steve Bilton, 48, a supply teacher, who is standing as a prospective councillor in St Michael's ward.
He said he converted to Islam three years ago and joined the BNP a few months ago. He denied that the BNP was a racist party.
"The BNP is a secular party," a spokesman said.
"We are a political party for white European people. If a white person is a Muslim, they can be in our party."
Speaking about his reasons for standing Steve Bilton said; ì"My whole intention is to make a protest to the powers-that-be that they are disregarding working-class people.î
The extent of the BNP's push in local council elections underlines its potential for exploiting divisions in communities, although it has only five of England's 20,000 councillors.
It has three in Burnley, where it is contesting 13 wards this time, as well as one in Blackburn and one in Calderdale.
This year it is moving beyond its traditional target areas in the North West.
It is fighting 54 seats in the North East, 44 in the North West and 46 in Yorkshire. The party is also putting up candidates in Lincolnshire, Cumbria, Wiltshire and such formerly unlikely BNP territories as Bournemouth, Taunton, Weymouth and Brighton.
The leadership hopes to capture a dozen seats and is talking of fielding 1,000 candidates next year.