Thursday, 26 March 2009

Bishop Criticizes the BNP for Hijacking the Cross


The Right Revd David James, Bishop of Bradford, has rightly criticized the far-right British National Party for hijacking the Christian faith by misusing the popular hymn “Onward, Christian
Soldiers” and claiming the flag of St George as its own.

Michael Brown, writing in the Church of England Newspaper, quotes the Bishop of Bradford as saying, “If you go on YouTube and put in ‘Onward, Christian Soldiers BNP’, you can watch a video clip of an angelic choir of men and boys - all white - singing this well-known, rousing hymn.” But the scene “quickly changes,” says the bishop, who goes on: “The choir is now singing to Nick Griffin, the leader of the BNP, walking through an admiring crowd at their annual conference, enjoying their affirmation as might a conquering hero returning from deeds of great dirring do.”

And immediately following Nick Griffin through the crowd is someone bearing the flag of St George, says Bishop James, who adds: “It’s pure theatre.”

The 63-year-old church leader, a former Bishop of Pontefract who has been at Bradford seven years - a period which has seen race riots in the city - goes on to recall that earlier this year he was in trouble-torn Kenya. There, in a country where the troubles have been tribal, children
asked him “Which tribe do you belong to?” - a question which, he says, “completely knocked me back”. Bishop James says: “I wish I had had the presence of mind to answer that I am part of one race which is the human race - or to respond as does the Archbishop of York. He understands the tribal mindset from the inside - ‘I belong now to the tribe of Jesus Christ’.”

Without again directly mentioning the BNP, the bishop adds: “Vincent Donovan, the Catholic missionary in East Africa, has said that only Christianity can overcome the tribalism which threatens to tear Africa apart. “How sad it is, then, when people seek to hijack the Christian faith in the course of division - whether in Europe or Africa. Many groups of people have claimed the cross of St George as their own, including the Church of England and supporters of the England football team... and we fly the flag accordingly. “But our task as Christian is to BE the sign of the cross, to be in our lives the symbols of the reconciling love of God who longs to embrace us all as one."

Report from the Church of England Newspaper

See here for my own take on the Church and the BNP

And here on Globalizing Hatred the New Antisemitism

Richard Batholomew has a useful debate going on how English 'Patriots' capitalise on Islamism.