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.

12 Responses

  1. Religion hand in hand with bigotry?

    SAY IT AIN’T SO!

  2. I have no brief for FIEC, but AFAIK they don’t exercise any control over their members. I’m sure they would eject people for flouting what they see as scripture, whether that be a penal view of the atonement or a permissive view of same-sex relationships. Where something could be called politics rather than Bible, they might disapprove, but they’d be stuck for a reason.

    If “the Bible teaches” means there is “a verse which says” irrespective of development and interpretation (which I think is their hermeneutic) then the Bible can be held to teach racism and ethnic cleansing (Kill those Canaanites) as much as non-racism (neither Jew nor Greek).

    Given this mix of both limited understanding and limited organisation, I’m not entirely surprised they’re trying to keep out of commenting.

    I’d be quite happy to have another stick to beat them with, but I think this is probably not a useful one. Some of their churches are racist, I think, and some not. The thing is, they haven’t got a clue how to deal with it.

  3. Richard – I emailed Rupert B-T today and have had a reply. He says he has been away for a week, that my email was the first he heard of the matter, and that he has no record of receiving an email from you. He also assures me that the FIEC take the matter very seriously and are considering the most appropriate way to respond.

  4. Thanks, that’s useful – I emailed him via his church. But why is it taking so long to “consider” what to do?

  5. The following letter has just been published in a leading Church of England Newspaper:

    Sir,

    As a member of the British National Party and as their lead candidate for the European Community elections for the East Midlands, due to take place on 4th June this year, I feel that I can endorse – from a Christian viewpoint – the BNP’s stance on race, immigration, ethnicity and voluntary repatriation .

    Whilst the BNP is a secular and not a religious party its views, generally, agree with the Bible’s own teaching that we are to live as nations, in our nations, and not to submit to a “resurrection” of the Babel thesis of one undifferentiated mass under some form of, probably dictatorial and very unstable, world governance.

    The BNP undoubtedly accept that all mankind are equally human and, therefore, equally imperfect; so the worst traits of Darwinism are rejected by the party.

    The BNP would also have no truck with any form of national or racial hegemony of any group over another. As far as the BNP is concerned supremacism – whether white, black, or multi-racial – is out of the question. One of their key principles is in fact national independence for all, including our own people. They would not, however, see racial differences as superficial, or as simply a matter of physical appearance: rather, every racial or ethnic group does have a collective and distinctive character, which is to be both valued and critiqued, making-up the rich diversity of humankind.

    On the matter of the “right of return” exercised by some UK citizens, whether born here or not, the BNP’s view is that this legal right (which already exists) can be exercised and helped, where needed, by financial packages to both the ‘returnees’ and the receiving nations. But this is to be voluntary in the case of those legally here. Those illegally here are to be given no amnesty, however. In my view this strikes the right balance. With regard to those of distant provenance who wish to remain, they must adjust to our laws and ways and not us to theirs. This is, after all, our historic and national homeland where, in that sense, our ways and identity must be legitimately and properly upheld. In particular Islamic culture and the Muslim sharia must have no place in a modern, progressive, and civilised society based on Christian values.

    Many Black and Ethnic Minority people now living in Britain, and indeed born here, would wholeheartedly support all of these policies of the British National Party and are wanting to vote for the BNP, and be seen to stand with the BNP, on these issues. This happened in particular in Barking and Dagenham. The BNP’s policies are therefore not racist: they are simply common sense.

    Yours sincerely,

    Revd RMB West
    Christian Council of Britain.

  6. I see this on the CCoB website:

    The Christian Council of Great Britain and Northern Ireland therefore resolved to recognise the godly importance of race and nation as groups based on this historical and providential process of objective descent: giving rise to different organically-formed communities; sharing and passing-on common genetically inherited (physical, intellectual and character)…

    Which “races” do you consider to be less “intellectual”?

  7. […] Messianic Jews had expressed grave anxiety over the FIEC’s slow response, first blogged by Bartholomew, to the BNP priest’s meeting at an FIEC church. However one concerned Messianic Jew was told that […]

  8. […] of Independent Evangelical Churches (FIEC), which in turn is part of a grouping called Affinity. I tried to get the FIEC (which has website banner suggesting support for a multi-racial society) to make […]

  9. I’m pleased to see that I am not the only one who is concerned by the FIEC’s silence on the BNP. I have been involved in three FIEC churches in different places, the last of which had at least one BNP member in membership. I am from a mixed race family in a predominantly white area. Among other things, it was a trigger for us to leave the church.

    I was astonished that the FIEC was not concerned “as each church is independent”. I now attend a church of another demonination, which although not entire our in line with our preferences is committed to standing up to racist groups like the BNP.

    In its silence the FIEC is providing a safe haven for the BNP members and sympathisers, as other Christian organisations queue up to condem them.

    Many thanks for putting the FIEC’s silence into the public domain. A vast majority of people who attend FIEC churches would be horrified by the likes Rev West (though most probably don’t know anything about them). Perhaps members of FIEC churches can make change happen. I don’t want to be ‘in fellowship’ with his ilk, and I’m sure most others don’t want either.

  10. […] Messianic Jews had expressed grave anxiety over the FIEC’s slow response, first blogged by Bartholomew, to the BNP priest’s meeting at an FIEC church. However one concerned Messianic Jew was told that […]

  11. […] to a Messianic Jew that they did not approve of Rev West taking an FIEC pulpit (which is more than I got), but only now has any public statement been made, after Rev West left a comment on my […]

  12. I’m not surprised by their behaviour at all as I also find it disturbing (going off the issue slightly) over the FIEC’s stance on women, saying they believe ‘only men should take the primary leadership role in the home and in the church’. The people who wrote that sort of thing in the Bible in the past didn’t know any better, but people of this day and age should be embracing equality fully. I found this unbelievable for modern human beings to still have this view – especially looking at some of the other oppressive cultures today giving us such a good example of why this sort of prejudice is wrong.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.