The Bishop of Bradford has declared that membership of the BNP is incompatible with Christianity.

The Right Reverend David James was speaking as the Anglican Synod meets to debate a proposed ban on clergy belonging to extremist organisations such as the BNP.

The private member’s motion to the Synod was brought by Vasantha Gnanadoss, a civilian worker with the Metropolitan Police. It calls for the Anglican church to mirror the policy of the Association of Chief Police Officers which has banned its members from also being members of the BNP.

Bishop David said: “Being a Christian is incompatible with membership of any organisation which has a racist agenda.

“The Bible explicitly tells us to love the stranger who lives amongst us as we love ourselves.

“To the extent that the BNP does not uphold this principle I don’t think clergy should be members but I am also aware that to impose a ban on membership could be considered an infringement of human rights.

“There is no place for racism in the life of the church or in society and I would be deeply disturbed if an active serving priest in the diocese behaved in any way that undermined the fundamental belief that all human beings are equally children of God.”

His comments were welcomed by Paul Meszaros, of anti-racism campaign group Hope Not Hate.

He said: “We applaud the Bishop’s comments. It is important all sections of society come together to resist the ideology of hate spread by organisations such as the BNP.”

Ken Booth, BNP spokesman for the North East, said: “I would disagree with the Bishop’s comments. Politics and Religion are still personal choices in my book. The BNP is not a racist organisation at all.

“A lot of the so called clergy seem to have more in common with Karl Marx than Jesus Christ these days. I would say they need to go back to the scriptures and read them properly.”