Ukip has suspended a councillor who blamed the recent floods on the passage of the gay marriage bill, after he continued to give interviews “promoting his own controversial views”.
David Silvester, a councillor for Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire, had written to a local paper claiming the country had been “beset by storms” because of David Cameron’s decision to act “arrogantly against the Gospel” in changing marriage laws.
He was told by the party to stop airing his personal beliefs, yet proceeded to appear live on BBC Radio Berkshire saying he “prayed for gay people to be healed”.
Mr Silvester said the new law, paving the way for the first gay marriages in Britain this spring, was the latest mistake which would anger God - following on from abortion laws, which he likened to the Holocaust.
In the radio interview, he said: “I don't have a problem with gay people.
“I believe as a Christian I should love gay people and, indeed, I do. My prayer for them is they will be healed.
“I believe that is what the Apostle Paul said in the New Testament, he said some of you are gay but you have been healed. There is healing for the gay condition and I believe a Christian should long for gay people to be healed and to have normal heterosexual lives.
“It is nonsense to say it is homophobic. If you love a person enough to want them to be healed and to have a proper family, that is hardly homophobic.
“It is a spiritual disease... it's not what I say, it's what the Bible says.”
Mr Silvester, who defected to Ukip from the Conservative Party, said he was convinced that there were “repercussions for a nation persisting in what is wrong”, and that he had clear beliefs “there are things that are right and wrong”.
“Over the years we have done many things that have caused problems,” he said.
“One, for example, is the abortion laws in which something like six million children, as many as the people killed by the Nazis in the death camps, have been killed as a result of the abortion laws.
“Now, this is a process. The latest in this process is these homosexual laws and the homosexual marriage.”
Despite supporting Mr Silvester following his initial comments, Ukip has now used emergency powers to suspend him.
The party’s south east chairman Roger Bird said the councillor had acted “contrary to party requests and continued to court the media”.
“We cannot have any individual using the Ukip banner to promote their controversial personal beliefs which are not shared by the party,” Mr Bird said.
The Conservative District Councillor for Henley, William Hall, told The Independent: “Many people in the town feel embarrassed to be associated with the content of his letter.
“The more Ukip supporters see of the real party the more I hope they realise that underneath the varnish is a seriously unpleasant organisation.”
Mr Silvester's suspension came as Ukip leader Nigel Farage said he had launched a clear-out to remove from the party anyone with “extremist, nasty or barmy views”.
Mr Farage told the Sun on Sunday all 1,818 candidates running in elections for Ukip would be vetted, while insisting that “of all the candidates we fielded, only about half a dozen have caused us any embarrassment”.