02 July 2003

Church leader's 'shame' over Christians who may have voted for BNP

A Methodist Church leader has expressed "shame" that Christians may have voted for the BNP.

The Rev Stephen Poxon, Chairman of the North Lancashire Methodist District, made the admission in proposing a motion at the Methodist Conference, calling for more support for churches seeking to fight racial tension.

Mr Poxon said that, after recent electoral success for the BNP, he held concerned meetings with fellow church leaders: "We had to admit with shame that we could not say for sure that none of our church members had not voted for the BNP." The Conference supported his concerns about the "racist" policies of the BNP and recommended efforts to work alongside other faiths to combat racial tension.

Meanwhile, the Methodist Conference, meeting in Llandudno, has called on the Government to revise its procedures for processing asylum applications "so that justice prevails and sustainable support is given".

Proposing the motion, the Rev Terry Young, from Darwen, Lancashire, denounced the asylum system as "evil". He said that "decisions taken by the Home Office, often seem arbitrary and procedures very slow".

The full text of the motions unanimously approved by the Methodist Conference follows:

Notice of Motion 31: Ministry in Areas of Racial Tension

The Conference

  1. expresses concern at the recent high profile election victories of the BNP in Burnley;
  2. encourages churches and circuits in all areas of racial tension to minister across faith and cultural divides;
  3. directs the Connexional Team to be more pro-active in offering available resources to circuits and districts, engaged in this ministry.

Proposed: The Revd Stephen J Poxon. Seconded: Mrs Beverley Jones

Notice of Motion 32: Treatment of Asylum Seekers and Refugees

The Conference notes that many Asylum Seekers and Refugees are coming to our churches in search of support. There is evidence from those coming to us that decisions taken by the Home Office, often seem arbitrary and procedures very slow. Communication with the Home Office is extremely difficult and financial support appears inefficient resulting in much delay and considerate hardship. This Conference declares its deepest concern about the treatment of Asylum Seekers and Refugees and urges its Government to revise its procedures so that justice prevails and sustainable support given.

Proposed: The Revd Terence J Young. Seconded: The Revd Geoffrey Peddie

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