The Archdeacon of Lichfield has hit out at the BNP after an activist tried to take a photograph with Lichfield Cathedral as a backdrop.
The activist arrived in Cathedral Close this afternoon with a large advertising van displaying a pro-BNP poster. He was challenged by the Archdeacon of Lichfield, the Ven Chris Liley, who demanded the advertising van be removed from the Cathedral’s precincts.
The Cathedral authorities have now said they will be writing to the BNP to demand that they not publish any promotional or marketing material which uses the building as a backdrop or which implies any endorsement of the BNP’s views or policies.
The Ven Chris Liley said:
“Lichfield Cathedral is a place of Christian worship and the centre of mission for the Diocese of Lichfield. We are open to all and want everybody to feel welcome here – but people visiting the Cathedral must act in a way which does not damage the cathedral nor the welcome that we are able to offer other visitors.”
However the BNP have defended their actions and claimed they are “voicing the opinion of the people of Lichfield”.
BNP spokesman Simon Darby told The Lichfield Blog:
“We sent our truth truck along because a lot of people in Lichfield are very upset by the planned mosque. If this was a Labour or Islamic poster would the Cathedral have taken the same action? The Archdeacon should spend more time defending the Christian faith because it needs it.
“I lived nearby for a long time and would often visit the city and go shopping so I know that Lichfield is a beautiful place to visit – we want it to stay that way. This isn’t about immigration – it’s about colonisation.”
In recent weeks the BNP have been targeting Christian voters and last month unveiled an advertising poster headed: What would Jesus Do – Vote BNP.
Chris Liley added:
“The BNP are wrong to suggest that Jesus would vote for the BNP. I don’t know who he would vote for, but his parable of the Good Samaritan was a clear example about the value we should place on people from other communities.
“Lichfield Cathedral encourages people to vote in elections and we seek to engage with all legitimate politicians. But we will not endorse any particular candidate or party and it is wrong for any party to seek to use the Cathedral in a way which might imply endorsement, regardless of how much we may support or oppose what they stand for.”
But the BNP insist the groundswell of opposition to the proposed mosque in Lichfield will benefit them in forthcoming European and County elections.
Mr Darby added:
“People will be in for a big surprise when it comes to the counting up of votes in the elections. We’ll be standing for both the European and County elections and we’re confident of getting a big share of the vote.”