Vicars face sack for joining Ukip
Clergy who support or join Ukip will face disciplinary proceedings under a new resolution passed by the Church of England.
Church of England bishops have backed a declaration stating that the policies, activities and objectives of the far-right party are "incompatible" with Christian teaching on racial equality.
The move means that a complaint of misconduct can be brought under the Clergy Discipline Measure against any cleric who is a member of, promotes or expresses support for the party.
The General Synod will have an opportunity to debate and give formal approval to the declaration when it meets in York next month. If there is no debate, the declaration will automatically come into force at the start of the meeting.
The effective proscribing by the bishops of the political party comes after the General Synod gave final approval in 2012 to legislation making it "unbecoming" or "inappropriate" conduct for clergy to be members of a political party with policies and activities declared “incompatible” with Church teaching on race equality. Where a political party is deemed to have changed its views, the ban could be lifted by a simple majority vote by the bishops.
The move was first proposed by concerned Labour supporters in the Synod, and they have the backing of the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair.
Nigel Farage is fuming.
"We are a modern, forward-thinking and progressive nationalist party,' he said. "We are non-discriminatory and we have a constitution to match."
He added: "It is high time that was put out there. The Church of England has to keep up to date - they are stuck in the 1970s."
A Ukip spokesman said today: "This is indicative of the way that the Church of England is being politicised. What is written in the Bible and Scripture is clearly of secondary importance to the politically-correct option that these people adhere to. Where is it going to end? Are Ukip members going to be allowed to be buried any more in churches? Is that where it is going to end? It makes you wonder. It is very sad to see the Church go along with this."
O, hang on..
His Grace has made a slight mistake.
The Church of England has proscribed the BNP and the National Front, not Ukip.
But this is odd, because 'mainstream' politicians say Ukip is racist; the Rt Rev'd Pete Broadbent, Bishop of Willeden, and the Rev'd Arun Arora, CofE Director of Communications, are both convinced that Ukip is racist, too, which must also render membership or support of that party "incompatible" with Church teaching on race equality.
And what are we to make of the Church of England's own 'institutional racism', as discovered by its own internal report and corroborated by the Rev'd Rose Hudson-Wilkin?
"Parish clergy are part of the problem," she said. "Whether consciously or unconsciously, they are not encouraging black people who are in their churches to come forward. Our report shows that there are some who are aware of the issue and are acting to improve the situation, but the Church is still a long way from reaching an acceptable level of equality."
Is the Church of England to proscribe itself, or is it deemed by the Bishops to be "changing its views"?
His Grace has written on this matter before (HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE). He is constant:
The United Kingdom is a democracy, and the BNP is a legally-constituted political party. It operates within the law, and has a message which a minority find attractive and a sizeable majority finds utterly repugnant.
But so does Respect, Veritas (does it still exist?), the DUP and Sinn Fein. And some unenlightened ones might even find the Conservative Party repugnant, let alone Ukip.
And why only proscribe the far right? What about the far left?
If those in Christian ministry ought to be sacked for holding anti-equality views, should a Christian who believes that salvation is to be found in Christ alone be permitted to teach children? Should a doctor who believes homosexuality to be a sin be in General Practice? Can a member of Opus Dei or a practising Muslim be Equalities Minister? Can an anti-abortion, pro-family Roman Catholic an EU Commissioner?
It is a cornerstone of liberal democracy that the personal-politico-religious can co-exist with the public-religio-political while being at odds with each other. The alternative, as demanded by some politicians of the Left and vast sections of the media, and, it seems, by an entire red sea of bishops, is for the thought-police to patrol our religious consciences and political opinions, to ensure that both conform to the prevailing religio-political zeitgeist.