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Last Updated: Friday, 28 May, 2004, 07:54 GMT 08:54 UK
Racist voters 'spitting at God'
Right Reverend John Sentamu, Bishop for Birmingham
The Bishop for Birmingham signed the document
Voting for racist political parties is like "spitting in the face of God", according to a group of Church of England bishops in the West Midlands.

In a statement, the 11 churchmen urged people to spurn the "evil of racism" and instead to "model a commitment to loving all our neighbours".

The bishops asked the electorate to reject groups that try to stir up racial or religious hatred.

The message comes ahead of next month's local and European elections.

The clergymen said community relations in the region were harmonious but in grave danger from political movements seeking to divide communities.

The 11 bishops
The Rt Revd John Austin, Bishop of Aston
The Rt Revd John Sentamu, Bishop for Birmingham
The Rt Revd Colin Bennetts, Bishop of Coventry
The Rt Revd David Walker, Bishop of Dudley
The Rt Revd Anthony Priddis, Bishop of Hereford
The Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill, Bishop of Lichfield
The Rt Revd Michael Hooper, Bishop of Ludlow
The Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of Shrewsbury
The Rt Revd Christopher Hill, Bishop of Stafford
The Rt Revd Michael Bourke, Bishop of Wolverhampton
The Rt Revd Peter Selby, Bishop of Worcester
Their statement read: "We value the rich diversity of our communities in the Midlands and judge the harmony forged here to be a beacon of hope for the whole of western Europe.

"Any political movement that seeks to divide a community on the basis of colour or creed is incompatible with a true estimation of humanity and poses a grave danger to harmonious community relationships.

"Consequently, voting for or supporting a political party that offers racist policies is like spitting in the face of God.

"We call on all people of our faith communities and all people of good will to reject steadfastly the evil of racism and to model a commitment to loving all our neighbours."

The statement added that the bishops were not endorsing any particular political party.




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