Britain First and the “Christian Patrol”

From the website of far-right group Britain First (1):

In response to the infamous “Muslim Patrols”, Britain First has launched our own “Christian Patrols”.

Last night (Friday 31st January) several units of Britain First activists spent several hours in East London handing out “Christian Patrol” leaflets in places such as Brick Lane and outside the East London Mosque.

Britain First has made a short video of its exploits, which included stationing two men on the pavement opposite the East London Mosque drinking beer as “bait” in a futile attempt to “draw out” hostile Muslims. The leaflets  – as explained to camera by chairman Paul Golding, sitting in an armoured vehicle – urge the public to phone Britain First to “report” any harassment by Muslims (for some reason, whoever originally uploaded the video made a half-hearted and botched attempt to blank out the phone number displayed on the leaflets).

This was, of course, no more than a stunt: the thuggish trio who were going around harassing people as a self-styled “Muslim patrol” more than a year ago tended to target individuals in back-streets or isolated areas, and it’s unlikely they would have challenged two burly men who were likely to resist. Plus, more importantly, they’re currently in prison. And given Friday evening’s foul weather, “Christian Patrol” activists standing around in the rain were more likely to catch a cold than ensnare any Islamic fanatics.

The “Christian” element of the patrol appears to be purely nominal: no hymns were sung, and there were no references to God, Jesus, or the Bible. I would be surprised if any of the activists are on their way to church this morning.

However, Britain First’s originator, Jim Dowson, is a “Reverend”, and the group was set up in 2011 to protect “British and Christian morality”. The group’s website shows an active interest in promoting Christianity as an aspect of traditional values: Golding writes of a “Holy Crusade” and of “Christian soldiers and fellow patriots”; there is a “Sunday Sermon” section “on the fundamental role that Christianity played in our long and glorious heritage”; and the site includes attacks on a “sordid” sex education video and on Boris Johnson for vetoing “an advertisement from two Christian groups regarding homosexuality”. There’s also an account of a delegation to an event organised by the Scottish Christian Party (an affiliate of the Christian Party). Hope Not Hate judges that it “is squeezed between its fascist roots and its religious ambitions”; Dowson and Golding both have backgrounds in the BNP, with Dowson in particular having played a significant role.

Britain First recently held protest in Cricklewood, ostensibly against a Muslim Brotherhood office above a shop; a counter-protestor named Martin Francis has an account here (H/T Charlie Pottins)