BNP Reverend Has Damascene Experience

No, not the absurd Rev. Robert West (see here), but another British ecclesiastic found to have aligned himself with the far right. Yesterday, the South Essex Echo reported:

A FORMER council chairman and church leader has quit the Lib Dems – to become an activist for the British National Party.

The Rev John Stanton, who was elected Lib Dem chairman of Rochford District Council in 1997, is now the far-right party’s organiser for the Rochford district.

…”I flirted with joining the UK Independence Party, but the BNP is the only one putting forward theories I agree with.”

…He said: “The BNP is very Christian-based and it gets very frustrated at the way Christianity is side-lined.

“If we can influence the main political parties with our views, then we have done enough.

“We are putting as many candidates across the country as we can and Rochford is one of the areas we are looking at.”

The BNP’s contribution to UK Christian life has been to set up a front group called the Christian Council of Britain and to display Christian symbols at a couple of protests (during which members sang “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”).

Today, however, Stanton has recanted:

A FORMER council chairman and church leader who joined the British National Party as a local organiser has dramatically turned his back on the far-right party.

The Rev John Stanton, who was Lib Dem chairman of Rochford District Council in 1997, admitted he was “stupid” for not knowing what the BNP really stood for when he signed up to the party about a year ago.

…He said: “I had no idea party leader Nick Griffin has been convicted of inciting racial hatred. I also discovered the party was anti-Semitic and homophobic.

“I was misled by what they said about themselves. The impression I got when they joined was that it was just a very British, Christian organisation. Now, I don’t really trust anything that they say.

“If a West African came here and adopted British values and customs, the impression I got was he would be welcome, but according to the BNP he wouldn’t be.”

Apparently appalled friends and tearful family members brought about the turnaround.

Stanton runs an obscure house church named Rock Dene Christian Fellowship, which does not appear to have a website. One site, however, describes it as a “Free Church”. Stanton involves himself local ecumenical activities; a Methodist site mentions that:

Last year John Stanton gathered together a set of all the elements that are used in the ritual of the Passover meal – a ritual that has remained virtually unchanged for thousands of years. John used them as part of Rockdene’s preparation for Easter.

Now you can share a Passover meal and learn more about the meaning of Passover and its part in Jesus’s Crucifixion because John has been invited to repeat the evening on Tuesday March 26 at our church.

This hardly goes well with being an activist for a party whose leader once wrote a booklet called Who are the Mindbenders? (Answer: Jews) However, to be fair to Rev Stanton Griffin has in recent years made a strategic decision to downplay his own and his party’s anti-Semitism, in order to concentrate on demagogic campaigns against British Muslims (an aspect of the BNP which Stanton tellingly fails to comment on).

Stanton has also in the past given local Christians the benefit of his learning in a series of Lenten lectures:

If you haven’t had a chance to get along to the Lent Lectures, you’ve only got one more chance. The series has been on the history of the various denominations – how they started and how they developed…The last one (on Cults) is on Wednesday 5th April at 8pm…

Why someone who supposedly blundered into an authoritarian political organization for the best part of a year without noticing what it stands for should be an expert on “cults” is also rather baffling.