THE BLOG

No, Britain First Does Not Represent Christians

04/03/2016 15:58 GMT | Updated 05/03/2017 10:12 GMT

I know, I know, the best way to treat attention-seeking people like Britain First is to ignore them. Don't give them and their disgraceful campaign any oxygen and hopefully they'll eventually go away.

But when something that is deeply important to me is being so monumentally misused, I can't keep it zipped any more.

I am sick to the back teeth of seeing Britain First members parading around waving a white cross and claiming to be on a "Christian patrol".

The Christian faith centres around the cross. This is where Jesus died a slow and painful death. And this is how, Christians believe, he paid for all the terrible things that people have done and will do in one difficult-to-wrap-your-mind-around act of love.

This means that for Christians the cross is a symbol of unadulterated, unwarranted love. For everyone, no exceptions. For British people, for Syrian people, for people from the house next door and for people from the other side of the world. For Christians, for Jews, for Muslims, for Sikhs. For doctors, for bankers, for cleaners, for teachers. For your nana, for the lady across you on the Tube, for your school bully, for your hairdresser. For charity workers, for burglars, for soup kitchen volunteers, for murderers. For me, for you. And yes, for Britain First.

You get the idea. It's for for everyone. No exceptions.

So seeing people using the symbol of cross while at the same time spouting hateful, divisive rubbish about other people and claiming to be "taking our country back" from them, provokes a visceral, almost physical reaction in me. I feel utterly disgusted that a symbol of love, forgiveness and acceptance of all - no matter who they are or what they have done - is being used to alienate people. This is precisely what the message of the cross is NOT.

Earlier this year, The Huffington Post UK spoke to representatives from every major Christian denomination in the country and every single one denounced Britain First.

Even the representatives from the Church of England and the Catholic Church - which some have suggested these days are somewhat irrelevant or even lacking in backbone - absolutely tore apart the far-right group's claims about representing Christians.

The Bishop of Bedford, the Rt Revd Richard Atkinson, OBE put it particularly well, saying: "They are deeply provocative, self-fulfilling, self-serving and not recognisably actions motivated by Christian faith."

Rev. Dr. Damian Howard S.J., speaking for the Catholic Church in England and Wales, echoed this, saying: "It's extremely painful for any Christian when the name of Jesus Christ is hijacked to justify hatred and to spread fear and mistrust. It is actually a kind of blasphemy."

I can sit here saying "Britain First don't represent Christians" until I'm blue in the face but it still doesn't stop it from hurting. It's something people from all faiths have to put up with to varying degrees: explaining that no, those radical people do not represent me and my beliefs. The Church and those who practice Christianity it are not perfect but the message of Britain first is unrecognisable to most of us.

I like to imagine most people would look at Britain First and understand that these people DO NOT speak for most Christians. But as Damian Howard said, that doesn't stop it from being extremely painful.