27 April 2009

What would Jesus do? Not vote BNP, for a start

The British National Party has launched an advertising campaign in the run-up to the European parliamentary elections on June 4 that seeks to solicit the votes of Christians.

The campaign, which makes the claim that Jesus Christ would vote for the BNP, aims to build on an effort made over recent years to cultivate support among Christians. This has included selective quoting from the papal encyclical, Rerum Novarum, to make it look supportive of far-right policies

To its credit, the Church of England has passed a resolution at the General Synod banning its clergy from membership of the BNP. Meanwhile, the Roman Catholic Church is also slowly stirring to the uncomfortable truth that there are people in its pews likely to vote BNP. In east London, Father Pat Sammon, the parish priest of Our Lady of Lourdes Church, has decided to confront the threat of the far right directly. Joining with other Christian leaders, he is urging parishioners not to vote for fascists.

Father Sammon points out that Jesus stood with the marginalised. He says: “The BNP seeks to marginalise members of British society, as well as those who come to us seeking asylum – in other words, precisely those for whom Jesus’ care led to his persecution.” Father Sammon argues that: “Jesus has always loved and cared about those whom the BNP appear to treat as of less importance – the refugees and asylum seekers, the homeless and jobless.”

The danger of the BNP making gains is very real. As London Labour MEP Claude Moraes has pointed out, the BNP could win at least one seat due to low turnout and a desire to register a protest vote.

The BNP is currently tapping into the disillusion among traditional Labour Party supporters. These people feel they have been abandoned. They believe the Government cares more about the welfare of big bankers than it does about the ordinary people who have lost their jobs because of the greed and incompetence of those bankers. There has been a growing polarisation of wealth over the past 10 years between a rich elite and the rest. Once Labour existed to try to close this gap. Now it presides over a widening of it.

And this Labour Government has failed to manage immigration policy. While the flow of migrants to Britain has generated wealth, there has been a failure to allocate resources to poorer areas. Migrant workers head for areas of low-cost housing. No extra funding is provided, thereby putting pressure on public services. The BNP then blame migrants for resulting problems.

Gordon Brown’s ill-conceived remarks about “British jobs for British workers” have been adopted as a mantra by the BNP. Where there have been disputes involving migrant workers, the BNP has been spreading its poison picket lines.

The Government has also stoked racial tensions with its treatment of much of the Muslim community on the basis of the terrorist threat. The targeting of this community as “suspect” in some way plays into the hands of the far right. In times of economic hardship, people tend to look for scapegoats.

The response to the fascist threat must involve strenuous efforts to build a united front across progressive and liberal organisations, including trade unions and religious groups. The threat is such that traditional differences must be put aside.

The hierarchies of the various churches need to demonstrate some leadership. Other religious leaders should follow the example of John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, who declared that voting for the BNP was “like spitting in the face of God”.

All people of faith must vote against the BNP and campaign to resist its electoral advance.



Anonymous said...

Jesus would never have voted for such a hateful party.

Anonymous said...

Jesus said 'charity' or love was the greatest attribute, with forgiveness and tolerance an integral part of that Love.
Hardly BNP stock in trade.