Christians should stop interfering in the electoral process, according to the deputy leader of the British National Party (BNP).
Watch an interview with Simon Darby
During a tense interview with the BBC’s Politics Show (North East and Cumbria edition) Simon Darby said: “Well, there’s an issue here that the church consistently, every time there is an election, interferes in the electoral process.
“Perhaps if the church took the attitude that they’ve got a problem with falling congregations and the fact that churches are being rapidly turned into mosques all over this country, people would, would listen to them.”
Mr Darby’s controversial comments came in response to a remark by the show’s presenter, Richard Moss.
During the interview Mr Moss put it to Mr Darby that church leaders were right to urge Christians not to vote for the BNP as it contradicted Christian virtues of “tolerance” and “generosity of spirit”.
Mr Darby’s unprecedented attack on the democratic rights of Christians comes at a time when many believers feel that their faith is being sidelined by politicians.
The BNP has previously attempted to depict itself as the protector of the nation’s Christian heritage.
However, a number of senior church leaders have previously warned Christians of the dangers posed by the BNP.
Last October Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, cautioned that the BNP must not be allowed to hijack Christianity.
Lord Carey called for all Christians to stand “shoulder-to-shoulder in rejection of Nick Griffin’s notion that ‘Christianity’ has anything to do with his despicable views”.
The former Bishop of Rochester has also warned that the values held by the British National Party are not Christian.
Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali warned that the BNP’s “narrow, racist vision” is not in line with Christian traditions.
And last May the Archbishops of Canterbury and York jointly urged the public not to vote for the British National Party out of dissatisfaction with MP’s expenses.
In a joint statement, Dr Rowan Williams and Dr John Sentamu warned that the party’s views “are the very opposite of the values of justice, compassion and human dignity which are rooted in our Christian heritage”.
The BNP currently holds two seats in the European parliament, and is hoping to make gains in the upcoming General Election.