16 February 2004

Methodist Council says 'reject parties that promote racist policies'

The Methodist Council, meeting on Saturday at All Saints Pastoral Centre, London Colney, Hertfordshire, discussed the concern expressed by church members since last year over the high profile election victories of the British National Party. The Council passed the following resolution:

In the light of notice of motion (NM31) agreed by Methodist Conference 2003 which 'expressed concern at the recent high profile election victories of the British National Party in Burnley', the Methodist Council:

  • Affirms that the Methodist Church is open to all in its worship, fellowship and service to the community. The policies and practices of those who promote racism and religious intolerance are incompatible with the Methodist Church's social witness, biblical teaching and our understanding of the love of God for all people.
  • Encourages people to vote in local, national and European elections. While not endorsing any particular political party, we urge people not to vote for candidates who promote racist policies.
  • Expects members of the Methodist Church to practise and promote racial justice and inclusion and reject any political party that attempts to stir up racial and religious hatred and fear of asylum seekers.

Following the Methodist Council resolution, Ms Anthea Cox, Methodist Church Co-ordinating Secretary for Public Life and Social Justice, said: "People working in local settings having to face the issues raised by the BNP had outlined a need for a statement from the Methodist Church. I hope that this statement may be used to strengthen their work being achieved locally. I hope that it will also raise the importance for all Methodists to challenge racism and religious hatred wherever it occurs."

"The work that the Council has undertaken will help us to work towards a joint churches statement following the agreement of a similar statement from the United Reformed Church at its recent Mission Council and the unanimous agreement of a Private Member's Motion dealing with these issues by the Church of England General's Synod last week."

The 70-strong Methodist Council meets four times a year to carry out the work of the annual Methodist Conference, the governing body of the Methodist Church in Britain.

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