Don't vote BNP urges Bishop

The next Bishop of Chelmsford today urged people in his diocese not to vote for the British National Party in the forthcoming general election.

The Right Reverend Steven Cottrell, the Bishop of Reading - who was named as the next Bishop of the Essex and East London Diocese - said the "Christian voice must counter racist voices".



The 51-year-old, who will be the bishop of the second largest populated diocese in the country behind London, said people must exercise their right to vote despite a lack of confidence in the political system.



"My message to voters is to go out and vote, despite an understandable anxiety and dissolution in the political process," he said.



"I believe the particular Christian message to offer here is that we do want to live in a world which offers difference and diversity.



"We are blessed in East London and Essex on the diversity in our communities and that is something to celebrate not to be frightened of.



"I hope that Christians will take a lead in countering some of the more fear-ridden, race-motivated politics which are the politics of the BNP.



"The Christian voice must counter racist voices.



"But we can do that by offering much more enjoyable, sustainable alternatives. It is possible to live with our diversity and to see it as a blessing rather than something to be frightened of."



Nick Griffin, the leader of the BNP, hopes to take the Barking seat from Labour in the general election.



The bishop, who is the 10th Bishop of Chelmsford, is the successor to the Right Reverend John Gladwin who retired in August last year.



He was brought up in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, where he met his wife Rebecca. He was baptised at St Barnabas Church in Hadleigh and was confirmed and married at St Margaret's, Leigh-on-Sea.



The Spurs fan, who has three teenage boys, will be moving to Essex in the summer and has promised to champion the team he supported as a boy - Southend United.



He was ordained in 1984 and consecrated to Bishop in 2004.

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