According to its web site, the mission of the Christian Council of Britain is:
The Christian Council of Britain is a non-denominational, non-proselytising body of Christian ladies and gentlemen who have come together to ensure a healthy future for Christians in Britain.
At this time of moral crisis and faced with the very real prospect of the spiritual void being filled with dangerous creeds and cults, now more than ever, is a strong voice needed to reconnect church with the lost congregations.
The CCOB will aim to :
1. Promote conditions enabling Christians to speak with one united voice on matters of social justice, equality under the law and freedom of expression.
2. Work towards the removal of barriers to the expression of our faith and all forms of discrimination faced by Christians.
3. Strengthen the position of the Christian faiths as the foundation stones of life in Britain.
4. Raise awareness of the threat to our ancient faiths, values and our very existence by false prophets.
However, as you might guess, the mission statement and the mission are not quite the same.
The following article comes from Searchlight (UK).
The BNP and Christianity
In its latest move to erect a veneer of respectability for its anti-Muslim campaign the British National Party (BNP) has attempted to “Christianise” its racist message. David Williams investigates the reality behind its new “religious” front group, the Christian Council of Britain.
In the run-up to the May 2006 council elections billed by the BNP as a “referendum on Islam” the party toned down much of its traditional racist rhetoric to enable it to focus its energies on its virulently anti-Muslim campaign, which it perceives as the platform most likely to propel it to power. It is in this context that the BNP is increasingly deploying religious arguments and metaphors to justify its crude racist crusade against Britain’s Muslims, proclaiming that it is “defending Britain’s Christian culture” against the “Islamification” of Britain.
In March 2006 it formed its own religious front group, the Christian Council of Britain (CCB), as a counterpoint to the Muslim Council of Britain. The CCB, which seeks to provide a religious veneer to the BNP’s racial ideology, emerged in response to the trial of Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, in order to give his statements that Islam was a “vicious, wicked faith” an air of religious authority.
The CCB also sought to exploit the fundamentalist Christian backlash against the satirical West End musical “Jerry Springer – The Opera” organised by the small but militant conservative evangelical religious sect Christian Voice (CV), noted for both its homophobia and its rejection of evolution. Led from Surbiton by Stephen Green, a former chairman of the Conservative Family Campaign, CV objected to what it perceives to be the musical’s profane and blasphemous content.
CV’s campaign initially focussed on picketing the show in Covent Garden’s Cambridge Theatre but reached its crescendo in its attempt to prevent the BBC from screening the musical in 2005. Before the broadcast CV deluged the corporation with complaints – the BBC received 47,000 in all. In the event 1.8 million people watched the show, eliciting only 900 complaints and 500 expressions of support, which suggested that people were not nearly so offended when they had actually viewed it. In a further attempt to stop the screening CV posted the personal details of a number of BBC staff on its website, a tried and tested tactic of religious extremists particularly in the anti-abortion move-ment, who use such methods to intimidate their opponents and in some cases worse. Indeed, one BBC manager was warned that “bloodshed” would ensue unless the show was axed. Green of course denied responsibility for the threats that BBC staff and their families received. Having failed to prevent the screening CV brought a private blasphemy prosecution against the BBC.
At the beginning of the year CV focussed on protesting against the national tour of “Jerry Springer” which began at Plymouth’s Theatre Royal. Keen to muscle in on the publicity which CV was garnering, the BNP formally announced its support for its “fellow Christians” in the “Action Group Springer”, a Christian umbrella group in Plymouth led by local CV member John Hollins, which was protesting against the performance in the city. Comically the Plymouth BNP group, led by Graham Green, issued a supportive statement that exhibited a woeful lack of basic knowledge concerning their own professed faith by accusing Plymouth Council of washing its hands of responsibility for the performance like “Judas Iscariot”. As most primary school children could tell you, it was Pontius Pilate who had famously wrung his hands of responsibility for the crucifixion of Christ not Jesus’s disciple Judas who betrayed him for 30 pieces of silver. When its faux pas was pointed out the BNP quickly amended its website, though his name is still spelt incorrectly as “Pontius Pilot”.
Following the exposure of the BNP attempt to hijack the CV protest, CV made it clear that the BNP was unwelcome. In a statement CV repudiated the party as a “racist, white supremacist, paganist, volkist, anti-Christian, evolutionist and antisemitic organisation” whose website was “lacking Christian humanity”. Rejecting the BNP’s divisive racism, it pointed out that “God has made all nations ‘of one blood’” (Acts 17:26) while Paul told the early church in Ephesus: “I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named” (Eph 3:14-15). The BNP was furious. BNP press officer Stuart Russell, under his alias Dr Phil Edwards, sent an angry email to CV berating it for its “un Christian hatred” towards the party while reaffirming his racist belief that “white people are more highly evolved than blacks”.
From the outset the BNP lied about its relationship with the CCB. It claimed BNP members had merely “joined up” with the CCB in order to register its own outrage when “Jerry Springer” arrived at Leicester’s De Montfort Hall in late February 2006. However, as Media Watch pointed out, the photographs of the “Christians” protesting in Leicester bore a striking similarity to photographs of BNP supporters outside Griffin’s trial in Leeds in January. One “Christian” protester interviewed by the Leicester Mercury, Wayne McDermott, was pictured carrying a CCB placard calling on people to “Defend Christian Values”. The newspaper failed to mention that McDermott was a BNP member.
The CCB website was registered on 9 January to Steve Blake, the BNP webmaster and assistant organiser of the BNP in Scotland, who manages Digital Scotland, an IT consultancy company based in the Stirling area. As a student in the 1980s Blake ran Aurora Promotions, which imported hardline paramilitary and Nazi material from the United States. Developing the CCB website is clearly not one of Blake’s priorities at the moment, however. It has been devoid of content since its registration save for a links page leading to a few Christian groups, all of whom issued a joint statement fiercely repudiating any link with the CCB. The credibility of the CCB suffered a further blow when virtually every religi-ous institution issued public statements condemning the BNP’s attempt to use religion to sow segregation and division.
So far the only figure publicly associated with the CCB is “Reverend” Robert West, a councillor for the Holbeach Town ward of South Holland District Council in Lincolnshire. West, who was elected as a Conservative and taught political philosophy and equal opportunities law under franchise at the universities of Nottingham and East Anglia, was ironically also a member of the Lincolnshire Council for Racial Equality. At a Conservative constituency dinner on 29 October 2004 West had harangued the association’s guest, Conservative party chairman Dr Liam Fox, wanting to know what he was doing about the decision of Barclays Bank to close the BNP’s bank accounts in the wake of the screening of the BBC documentary Secret Agent. In email correspondence with Dr Fox afterwards, West described the programme as “hardly damning of that Party … rather the reverse”, despite the fact that it showed BNP members confessing to racially motivated crimes, something Dr Fox rightly pointed out to him.
In numerous interviews West denied that the CCB was a BNP front though he conceded that the BNP had “encouraged and facilitated” its establishment, something of an understatement given Blake’s involvement. West, who also works as a supply teacher, was photographed outside Leeds Crown Court in November 2005, on the occasion of one of Griffin’s pre-trial appearances, delivering what the IndyMedia website described as, “the most bizarre semi religious political ranting ever heard. Whether he was a real priest or some nutter who has bought his qualifications and outfit off the Internet was unclear.” West’s religious credentials are certainly obscure. The Times stated he was an ordained elder of the Apostolic Church, an institution that not only claims no knowledge of West but also repudiates his views and those of the BNP.
West stepped into the limelight in February 2006 when he addressed a 200-strong meeting of the BNP in Huddersfield alongside Griffin during which West derided multiracial society as “a transgression of God’s will”. The national Conservative Party reacted by suspending West though his local branch, the South Holland and Deepings Conservative Association, gave him the benefit of the doubt after West convinced them that he had only attended the meeting in order to preach the gospel to the BNP.
Interviewed by G Focus, a BBC radio gospel music programme, West insisted that the CCB had been formed “to represent Christian values and the Christian Heritage of the country” at a time when the institutional churches “have lost their way” and no longer followed “holy scripture”. As the religious think-tank Ekklesia highlighted, West was referring to the Methodists and the Church of England, both of who have been outspoken in their condemnation of the racist BNP and its attempts to inflame racial hatred against Muslims, as has virtually every other religious leader in the country.
In his pronouncements West emphasised that the racist theology of the CCB sought to give the BNP’s racial nationalism a religious veneer by upholding “the biblical teaching of nations” and ergo the desire to build racially segregated “national homelands” which will maintain, develop and safeguard white racial identity. This led naturally to West voicing his support for the BNP’s repatriation policy, which he claimed was “in line with the scriptural doctrine that races are divided into nations and homelands”. Indeed West believes that “the mixing of races challenges the glory of God”. The National Front in the 1970s and 1980s used just such a racist interpretation of the scripture to justify South Africa’s murderous apartheid regime.
Highlighting its role as a vehicle for protesting at Griffin’s trial West proclaims that the CCB was formed to “counter attacks on free speech”. This is particularly hypocritical given the sight of BNP activists unashamedly waving CCB placards while trying to have “Jerry Springer” banned. The irony was presumably lost on them.
The protestations that the CCB was not a BNP front group were a pathetic and unworthy charade that collapsed in the wake of the 2006 local council elections when West officially defected to the BNP. He claimed his decision was precipitated by the move by David Cameron, the Conservative leader, to recruit a greater number of ethnic minority and female candidates – the so-called A List. West’s defection outraged many local Conservatives who had stood by him when censured by the national party. Disgusted with his duplicity they are calling for a by-election. For his part West claims to have founded his own church operating from a house in Holbeach, Spalding to preach “traditional bible beliefs”, though he has also been spotted out and about canvassing for the BNP in Lincoln where one irate householder threw a jug of iced water over him when he tried to peddle his racist faith on her doorstep.
Despite constant crowing that West has become the “fifty-fourth” BNP councillor (a number derived by unrealistically counting both the erroneous election results in the BNP’s favour), his defection should be not be interpreted as a triumph for the party. In West the BNP may have temporarily gained another councillor but its wider strategy – to permeate religious, cultural and political structures with its racist theology, which bears no resemblance to the sincere Christian faith it purports to represent – has ended in humiliating failure, its “Christian” conversion revealed as a hollow sham lacking either coherence or sincerity.
The crude attempt by the BNP to “Christianise” its racial message is particularly ironic given that the BNP website harks back to the halcyon days of pre-Christian paganism (!) calling for the resurrection of “ancient faiths” while extolling the virtues of “ancestral folk traditions”. As far as the BNP is concerned “Christian” equals “white”, the party apparently being unaware that the vast majority of Christians in this world are black Africans. At best the BNP has a tenuous grasp of genuine Christian theology, with which its own ideology is clearly incompatible. Indeed as Dr Giles Fraser, the vicar of Putney, observed, “if Jesus were ever to walk this green and pleasant land, the BNP would be committed to his repatriation. Even their great love of St George is a joke: George was either Turkish or Palestinian, and his legend migrated to this country from the Middle East.” These thoughts aside the underlying BNP strategy remains clear: to set religion against religion and in doing so to fuel division and hatred.
© Searchlight Magazine 2006