23 April 2004

Methodist Church launches web resource to help prevent far-right electoral gains

Extreme parties could win European seats with as little as 9% of the vote

The Methodist Church has launched "Countering Political Extremism," an online information resource for any church or other groups concerned about the rise of far-right political parties such as the BNP.

With local and European elections due on June 10, extreme parties are targeting selected councils and European constituencies. Noting that the BNP's political strategy is based in part on voter apathy, the new resource features ways of increasing interest in elections. It also demonstrates practical ways to enable voters to see the motivation behind the BNP's presentation of itself and its policies.

Anthea Cox, Secretary for Public Life and Social Justice for the Methodist Church, said that "Over the last eighteen months many local churches and church leaders have become fully engaged in trying to overcome political parties that promote racism and intolerance. This resource has been drawn from that experience. As the European and local elections approach in June the resource offers practical tools to enable people to consider the issues raised by parties such as the BNP."

Cox added "Local churches are placed at the heart of the community and people look to us for leadership. It is important that we underpin our commitment to social justice with theology and prayer and there are resources to enable this included in the web site"

The Methodist Church in February stated "the policies and practice of those who promote racism and religious intolerance are incompatible with the Methodist's church's social witness, biblical teaching and understanding of the love of God for all people." Said Cox: "The new web resource is the church's offering to congregations and individuals who recognise the need to consider such issues in areas where the BNP and other extremist parties are likely to field candidates in the June European and Council Elections. The resource offers information, case studies, prayers and group work to help congregations work through the challenging issues presented by this new trend in British politics."

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