Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches Silent on BNP Sermon

fiec

 The above is the web logo of the British Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches. You’ll note the organisation is very keen to present a multiracial image, with a black man and a woman of East Asian heritage among its smiling members – doubtless a visual representation of Galatians 3:28:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

So what happens when a church that is part of the Fellowship gives a platform to a man who preaches a Gospel of racial separation for the benefit of a far-right political party? That’s what happened a few weeks ago, when the BNP’s Rev Robert West was invited into the pulpit of a historic church in the village of Barton in the Beans.

I contacted the FIEC asking if they had any views on the matter. After a couple of follow-up emails I finally got a response – a very general statement that the FIEC is aware of the need “advise” churches about the “dangers” of political extremism. This was despite the fact that West’s appearance at the church seems to have been with the full knowledge of the chapel wardens (there is no minister) – a relative of theirs, BNP councillor Ian Meller, is a member of the congregation.

So, I tried to contact the FIEC president directly. Here is my email, sent over a week ago to his church:

Dear Mr Bentley-Taylor

I am writing to you in your capacity as President of the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches, to express my concern that an FIEC affiliated church was recently used to promote the views of Rev Robert West. Rev West is a propagandist for the British National Party, and he teaches that “mixing of races” is a sin against God.  I see the FIEC website carries a headline banner which includes a black man and a woman of East Asian heritage, so it seems to me that West’s religious teachings are a direct challenge to the values to which the FIEC is publicly committed.

Rev West was given the pulpit of Barton in the Beans Baptist Church a couple of Sundays ago, and there is reason to believe that those who allowed him to do so were fully aware of his political affiliation.

Further background on Rev West can be seen here:

http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/content/news_syndication/article_060316bnp.shtml

I am sure that you already know what the BNP stands for, and that many church groups have made public stands against its policies of hate and racial divisiveness. I would like to urge the FIEC to make a public statement repudiating Rev West and his views, and expressing dismay that an FIEC affilitated church would invite such a person. Without it, it is likely that Rev West will use his church appearance to legitimise the BNP and for electoral advantage in the European elections, in which he intends to stand as a candidate.

I have corresponded about this matter with the FIEC administrator, but he has declined to go further than to make vague assurances about the FIEC’s commitment to advise churches about political extremism. I understand that FIEC churches are independent, but surely affiliation is based on commitment to the FIEC’s view of the Christian Gospel? The FIEC’s website “talks the talk” of racial harmony; I believe it is now time to “walk the walk”.

Yours sincerely
Richard Bartholomew

Response? None.