Yesterday in Parliament an obscure little statutory committee – all undemocratically appointed by the Lord Speaker – examined and approved draft Measures presented to it by the Legislative Committee of the General Synod of the Church of England on how to deal with the BNP. Ben Bradshaw was quick to extrapolate this to 'far right or racist parties' in general, suggesting future scope for the extension of these disciplinary measures. His Grace has purposely included the first two responses to Mr Bradshaw's tweet, since, if a council can discriminate against adoptive parents for their 'right-wing' UKIP-leaning views, it is inevitable (with a very high degree of certainty) that 'far right' will come to embrace those who oppose gay marriage or women bishops. For if racism be an abhorrent manifestation in the Church of Christ, how much more should homophobia, misogyny or europhobia be subject to ecclesiastical opprobrium?
His Grace has said this before, but he'll say it again. All reasonable Christian people will have immense sympathy with an expression of Christian witness which seeks to denounce racism in all its forms, including in the temporal political realm. The Church should be completely intolerant of all those who would foment discord on the basis of ethnicity or skin colour. The Early Church abolished the Jew-Greek division and declared all to be one in Christ Jesus, so there can be no theological rationale 2000 years later for black-brown-white segregation. To be Christian is to be blind to race: all of humanity is equal in the great plan of salvation. We are all children of God, and all equal in our sin.
But here we now have the Established Church of England empowered by Parliament to prohibit those in Holy Orders from joining a political party which is not only legally constituted in the United Kingdom, but has won elections to the European Parliament and is deemed to conform to both UK and EU law.
Oh, of course, the party has not been named: the General Synod simply decreed that allegiance to a party whose policies are ‘incompatible with the teaching of the Church of England in relation to the equality of persons or groups of different races’ would be ‘unbecoming and inappropriate’. So, in theory, Ben Bradshaw is right that all racist or discriminatory political parties are to be proscribed.
But he only mentions the 'far right'. Are there no 'far left' parties with racist or otherwise discriminatory ideologies?
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