Church closer to banning BNP clergy


The General Synod of the Church of England has cleared the way for a ban on clergy membership of the British National Party.

Members of the Church's national assembly gave final approval to legislation making it "unbecoming" or "inappropriate" conduct for clergy to be members of a political party with policies and activities declared "incompatible" with Church teaching on race equality.

Under the measure, the Church of England bishops would make a declaration on parties or organisations deemed incompatible with Christian teaching.

The bishops would have to vote by a two-thirds majority in favour of proscribing an organisation with the General Synod given the opportunity to endorse or reject a decision.

Where a political party was deemed to have changed its views, the ban could be lifted by a simple majority vote by the bishops.

The move was first proposed three years ago by Vasantha Gnanadoss, a Metropolitan Police civilian worker and General Synod member.

The Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Rev Christopher Hill, told the General Synod meeting in York that the legislation showed the "care and concern" of the Church of England for the equality of all human beings.

The British National Party attacked the move.

A spokesman said: "We are a modern, forward thinking and progressive nationalist party.

"We are non-discriminatory and we have a constitution to match."

He added: "It is high time that was put out there. The Church of England has to keep up to date - they are stuck in the 1970s."