Church urged to ban BNP supporters from communion

Supporters of the racist philosophies of the British National party should be banned from taking communion because their beliefs conflict with key tenets of the Christian faith, the head of Britain’s race watchdog said yesterday.

Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, used a speech to church leaders to criticise their silence over the BNP’s depiction of itself as a Christian-based party. Mr Phillips told the Temple Address, a high-profile interdenominational gathering, that the BNP’s policies against people of other races and other religions using the cloak of Christianity demanded a robust response from established churches.

Referring to BNP leader Nick Griffin’s acquittal last week on charges of inciting racial hatred, Mr Phillips said the church should have framed its own response. “If ever there was a moment for hellfire and damnation, this is it. At the very least, every pulpit this Sunday should have been ringing with denunciation, ministers and priests crying ‘Not in our name’ … the far right should not be able to claim Christ to their cause. But they will do if we let them.”

He added: “I feel rage that my church might expect me to be in communion with such as Nick Griffin. This is where Christ puts us to the test. In the end it is Christians who decide who shares their fellowship, and who is excluded.”

Mr Phillips said church leaders faced a choice. “Will the churches support any priest or minister who says I will not administer the sacrament to someone who blatantly rejects Christ’s teachings? Are we ready to use weapons of faith to turn these people into pariahs and outsiders?”

Guardian, 16 November 2006