31 March 2009

Churches dismiss BNP’s Jesus election poster

Three British Churches have dismissed a new advertising campaign to be launched by the BNP featuring Jesus and his teaching on persecution.

The far-Right party's new poster advert quotes John 15.20, in which Jesus says: “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.”

The advert then asks: “What would Jesus do?”

The Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church said they wanted to reminded people of the true Christian message of love for all people following the inclusion of Jesus in the poster.

Christine Elliott, Secretary for External Relations for The Methodist Church, said: “When Jesus was asked about what was the most important rule of life he said, 'Love God with all of your being and love your neighbour as yourself.'

“It’s ironic that the BNP is using the world’s most famous Jew to promote its racist message.

“Our traditions have a history of promoting racial justice and inclusion and rejecting messages of hate and fear.

“It is always important that people go out and vote, especially in these extremely difficult economic times. Sadly, in the past, economic problems have been exploited by extremists as opportunities to scapegoat minorities.”

BNP leader Nick Griffin sent an email to BNP supporters on Sunday in which he said the aim of the advert was to attract more Christian voters.

The BNP was, he said, “the only political party which genuinely supports Britain’s Christian heritage” and “will defend our ancient faith and nation from the threat of Islamification”, reports Ekklesia.

Mr Griffin also criticised moves within the church to ban membership in the BNP, referring to the recent vote in Church of England’s General Synod banning Church members from joining the party.

“Jesus was viewed as a revolutionary figure, hated and hounded to death, not by 'evil men' but by the corrupt hypocrites who ran the church. Has nothing changed in two thousand years?” he wrote.

“On June 4th, the leaders of Britain's churches will find out that millions of good decent people support the British National Party.

“It's not racist to support British jobs for British workers or to be opposed to militant Islam, it's just common sense and in line with the teachings of Jesus Christ.”

Co-director of Ekklesia, Jonathan Bartley, said the advert was a “gross misrepresentation” of Jesus Christ and Christianity.

“Jesus was completely opposed to bigotry. He is recorded in the Gospels as challenging those who didn’t welcome foreigners - not as working for their exclusion," he said.

The three Churches will launch an election pack at the end of April, which will call on local church leaders to engage positively with politicians and reject racist political activity.

Christian Today

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