Sunday, July 19, 2009

Norwich North by-election-the question the BNP refuse to answer

Thursday will see the long-awaited by-election in Norwich North following the resignation of popular maverick MP, Ian Gibson. Despite, its unprediactable nature, the campaign momentum seems to be heading for a Tory v Liberal Democrat, April Pond finale. Labour seem well out of the race yet their is still not massive enthusiasm for the Tories in a seat they would have been expecting to win in the next General Election anyway.Despite their previous predictions, there is no evidence that the Green bandwagon is really rolling. I suspect that this will be the story of the by-election, at a time when all parties attempt to manage expectations.

One thing that is clear is that the BNP are far from gaining ground. So before he slopes off after defear, I join calls from Ekklesia and other faith-based groups and individuals for the BNP candidate, Robert West (from outside the county let alone the city to finally answer the question so far avoided by him and cronies: Exactly where does he get his "Rev" title from?


I know of no Church in the UK that doesn't condemn the racist party. It was suggested by The Times a while ago that he might belong to the Apostlic Church. However, the Apostolic Church expressed no knowledge of West.

A spokesperson for the church told Ekklesia: "If this person has had any association with The Apostolic Church in the past the only means by which he can maintain either his membership or office is by attending one of our churches. If he were an active member of the Church his views would not be accepted by the Church and disciplinary action would be undertaken by the Church which strongly distances itself from views such as these."

Will any church come forward to claim him? Or is this another example of BNP deception? Is his "Rev" status somehow derived from the Christian Council of Britain? And if so, who ordained him if it only has a membership of one?

Norwich has a notable history of welcoming people fleeing persecution elsewhere in Europe, sometimes on religious grounds-for example it has been home to one of the earliest Muslim communities in the nation. Christian teaching is clear that hospitality and living together with mutual respect remain the foundation of a civilised society. All human beings are created equally in the image of God. That is why racism is a sin. Christ calls us to love our neighbours as ourselves and in this forthcoming by-election, it is right to be vigilant about any party or individual candidate seeking to use people’s fears for their own well-being to stir racial or religious hatred.

At a time when many people are anxious about their jobs, finances and future, we pray that the best and most generous traditions of our national life will guide all voters on July 23rd and that people from faith perspectives not only vote but do so with an attitude of hope not hate.

Thanks to Ekklesia and many others for keeping this issue live and attempting to keep candidates to account.

17 comments:

Norfolk Blogger said...

Good points well made.

Victorshannock said...

there is another point of view of course!, not everyone rejoices in unlimited inward migration (especially right now); there are those who value everyone's differing ethnic diversity and would conclude this was the intention of a loving Creator - ie not to seek to eliminate this aspect of "biodiversity"; is to be concerned about these issues necessarily a "hatecrime"?, as for Rev West's credentials eg Catholics dont regard Anglican clergy as real priests!, and what about Ian Paisley? - seemingly lots of people use the title "Rev" and set up their own churches and movements: eg gay and lesbian churches etc

RevdRMBWest said...

I am not sure that the anti-British National Party position is at all Christian, or sensible. Is it a Christian thing to allow our country to be invaded and its people pushed out and displaced in their own inheritance? Is it not rather the will of God that every nation [Greek: ethnos] should have its own country (Genesis 10: 5, 20,31, 32); and is this not backed-up by common sense and by the apostle Paul in the the New Testament (Acts 17: 26, 27)? In any case you cannot have all the world trying to fit into England, can you? The extremists are surely the "mainstream" parties who think that you can. On a whole host of issues their policies are both "mad" and "bad". May the Lord be with you as you exercise your vote sensibly. Do so before it is too late. Every blessing as you do so!

Simon Wilson said...

Victorshannock is correct about one thing "not everyone rejoices in unlimited inward migration"-sadly this may be true. However,that position is untenable for anyone professing a religious faith perspective-welcoming the stranger is the primary motivation for ministry and mission.

Of course, Catholics regard Anglican Clergy as "real priests"-that is why it is ecumenism that is the driving force in dialogue and collaboration, especially in a rural county such as Norfolk and why Roman Catholics, Anglicans and free church leaders all come together to call for political participation based on the values of hospitality, tolerance and celebrating diversity.

Your implication that lots of people set up their own churches and illegitimately use the title "rev" is also untrue, but does appear to confirm that Rev West has invented his own church and calls himself "rev" wrongly. Thanks for clearing that up.

Victorshannock said...

Simon

I dont wish to get bogged down in this blog of yours!, but I do think you've got this wrong - or at least are "confused"! regarding welcoming the stranger (not that youre welcoming Robert West!? or inviting him to a meeting to discuss the differing positions you both hold! (I am not a member of the BNP, but am concerned at the way you seek to limit the Gospel to your particular understanding); eg It is self evident Jesus and Paul were both lovers of their own people (I can give texts but you know them already). The Canaanite woman wasnt exactly welcomed by Jesus!

Those who should be welcomed (by Christians) are those who are fleeing persecution by eg Muslims in Iraq (ie convert or the bullet) or Hindus in Orissa, but to open the gate to those seeking economic betterment like from China is to my mind self evidently madness and there is no christian justification for that.

It also seems foolishness in the extreme to welcome those members of Islam whose agenda is the establishment of sharia in the UK. The BNP is the only party to recognise the threat that is there

fellist said...

Interesting blog and comments. I cannot speak about Reverend West not knowing his situation, but I have some questions about more general matters.

As an agnostic I’m baffled by the Church’s attitude to the BNP. One of the things I most respect organised Christianity for is its role in anti-imperialist movements. It’s to the Church’s great credit that it led the fight in recognising the rights of African and Asian peoples to run their homelands in their own interests (and ultimately kick Europeans out of their countries).

Why then do European churches have the exact opposite attitude to their own peoples and countries? Why do they insist European Christian nations should not enjoy the same advantage?

If this is a Christian thing - denying to its own communities rights it defends for others - then Christianity seems positively suicidal to me. But how does the Church claim the right to argue that White peoples per se (many of whose members no longer are Christian) should not have the same rights as Black and Asian peoples? For example, we all agree with Gandhi’s claim that India ‘belongs’ to the Indians - and this is why we say colonialism and imperialism are wrong - so why do we deny that England ‘belongs’ to the English?

It seems like a racist double standard - and unless the BNP can be shown to operate some double standard themselves it seems like the only racism in this debate.

RevdRMBWest said...

Dear Fellist, I think you are quite right in pointing out that the institutional Churches are being quite racist against their own European peoples, who are, only asking for their own, what they have given to the Negro and South Asian kindred groups in their countries. Basically, they do not like me, or the BNP, for telling the truth; and this is why they quibble about my credentials, as a genuinely ordained minister, when the simple fact is that I am just doing my job, as every ordained minister should. It is not wrong to point out hypocrisy and double standards, even when it is done by the scribes and pharisees of today. They crucified the Prince of truth and, they do not like it, when they see His truth in His followers.

RevdRMBWest said...

Dear Simon Wilson, The Roman Catholic Church does not accept the Church of England as a genuine Church, let alone its ministers/priests as valid; and yet they "play ecumenism" together as if that were not the case. The same is true between the Church of England and the Free Churches: the Church of England, after 1662, has not accepted non-episcopal ordination as a valid ordination; and yet they play ecumenism together as if they do. Hypoocrisy and double standards? Certainly an inconsistency. If you doubt the validity and effectiveness of my orders, as an ordained minister of the cloth, then do come to my service, this year, at the BNP's summer bash and see, and hear, for yourself. The testing is in the tasting. Now, there is an offer you cannot refuse. You would be most welcome.

Simon Wilson said...

"There is no such thing as Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female; for you are all one person in Christ Jesus." Need I say more?

RevdRMBWest said...

Dear Simon Wilson, when the apostle Paul writes that in Christ '...there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free...(Colossians 3: 11) he is not urging the ending of these national distinctions [Greek: ethnos], class distinctions, or, elsewhere, the sex distinctions of nature and convention between men and woman(Galatians 3: 28); for to do so would be to go against God's decrees of Creation and Providence - which the gospel never does. How could anyone think so. Paul elsewhere addresses all these distinctions, as still continuing, by God's order and will. Wives and husbands are addressed, so obviously male and female continue (Ephesians 5: 23-33). Social distinctions also remain for Paul also addresses Masters and Servants (Ephesisans 6:5-9). National distinctions also continue: as the apostle to the Gentiles, Paul, specifically says that the gospel is '...to the Jew first...' (Romans 1: 16) and he looks to the time when Jacob/Israel shall be saved (Romans 11: 14, 15). His meaning in the verse you cite is clearly, therefore, not to ethnocide the Jew or the Greek, nor to end manhood and womanhood by some ghastly cosmic sex-change operation; nor to end the hierarchies of society in the name of some equality mush led by Trevor Phillips or David Cameron; but that for those who are in Christ - whether male or female, Jew or Gentile nationals, high or low in social standing - these distinctions are not the source of conflict which they once were, since both our personal and original sin has been dealt with by faith in the work and Passion of our wonderful Redeemer. The good news does not support Karl Marx's social programme of destruction, and waste, but rather commands all men everywhere, to repentance, by faith in the Messiah's suffering and death. And while these distinctions remain, true disciples of Christ will bring peace into those situations, wherever possible, by applying the divine wisdom/political theory which the Bible alone has. Paul said that he knew how to be content whatsoever state he was in (Philippians 4: 11); may that be our experience too. But if mankind ignores the divine wisdom, they have only themselves to blame for the ghastly mess that they inevitably bring upon themselves.

Victorshannock said...

Simon

You clearly do have it wrong - you are placing your LibDem credentials before your Christian ones!!! Clearly Rev West is plainly correct - the reason is self evident! Have you heard eg Helen Shapiro sing in concert - both her old pop music and also as a Messianic Jewish person - she has really got something -truly inspiring!- She does not deny her ethnic identity but rejoices in it, yet in the Spirit yes we are one - but you dear brother seem to be missing the point!!!, as anglo saxon or punjabi - divinised, but not as nothing as if race didnt matter to God!

Simon Wilson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RevdRMBWest said...

Dear Simon Wilson, Thank you for your question on whether I feel that I have engaged with the folk of Norwich. I think that I have, as far as I can in a parliamentary constituency, which is large. I was recognised in the street and was welcomed. I also answered questions, where they were put. The feedback that I got was that there was too much literature being put out by too many parties. I think that the Conservatives were the chief culprits, here, as they put out about six leaflets! That is a lot of rain forest. I saw Nigel Farage of UKIP (where I have friends in), though not to speak to. I also saw a bit of a fisty-cuff between a Lib Dem and a Labourite. There were also a lot of Green Party posters up and I saw one from the Monster Raving Loony Party. I had not seen that before. The question you ask is a deep one: do you pander to the percieved 'concerns' and the aches and pains (and distractions) of the moment, or do you deal with the real issues that objectively matter and will come to dominate the political landscape when it is almost too late to do any good. I suspect that you would hold, as I do, to the latter position. You would be in good company: Edmund Burke, the great conservative philosopher, who instantly sized- up the true nature of the French Revolution long before the reign of terror began; Winston Churchill who forewarned us about the Nazis and was vilified as a "warmonger" for so doing; Enoch Powell who clearly foresaw years ahead of Trevor Phillips, what Mr Phillips has just begun to acknowledge; Nick Griffin of the BNP: isn't he in much the same category, telling us things we would rather not hear because we so want the world to be different to the way it actually is. I think that the Holy Bible has quite a lot to say to all of us, including politicians; but that it is not quite what the soft-left and far-left would have us believe. With Best Wishes.

Simon Wilson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Simon Wilson said...

I am certainly not placing my Liberal Democrat principles ahead of my Christian ones.Instead, I work out my faith in a variety of practical and political manifestations.

It is faith that is a key component of social capital-bringing communities together and strengthening them by celebrating our own roots and culture and in forming partnerships and being prepared to listen and learn rather than preach at.To be as much as to do.

fellist said...

Simon Wilson said... "There is no such thing as Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female; for you are all one person in Christ Jesus." Need I say more?

Well, yes, honestly.

It is perfectly reasonable to believe that ethnic distinctions are no obstacle to fellowship in the Christian community, but I ask again on what grounds does a Christian insist that other communities should forgo such distinctions?

Christians feeling as you do unable to make any ethnonational distinctions ought to see that stance as a personal religious one, not as a universal moral claim. Indeed, in the absence of reciprocity your claim does not even qualify as moral. If Christian doctrine can dictate outcome and policy for groups not specifically Christian you must accept that those groups are equally entitled to dictate to Christians, or are non-Christians without equal rights?

The racist double standard (Churches united in their support for Asian and African self-determination and opposition to European peoples’ self-determination) merely adds another layer of inconsistency to what already seems an aggressive and morally incoherent stand.

Simon Wilson said...

Please use the following links to find stories relating to this one:

http://hnhnorfolk.blogspot.com/2009/06/reverend-robert-west-and-churches.html

http://www.religiousintelligence.co.uk/news/?NewsID=4411