THE Bishop of Colchester has urged his flock not to vote for the British National Party in next month’s elections.

The Rt Rev Christopher Morgan said Christians could not support the party’s “divisive distinctions based on race, creed and colour”.

He added: “We sadly recognise some of the causes of social dislocation that have given rise to the growth of the BNP in recent years.

“Christians need to work strongly with all who want to strengthen the fabric of civil society, but we cannot condone the basis of the BNP with its divisive distinctions based on race, creed and colour.

“This is overtly destructive of any shared community life in our localities and nation.”

He spoke out ahead of election hustings he will be chairing at St Botolph’s Church in Colchester tonight, with six of the nine general election candidates.

BNP candidate Sidney Chaney, who has not been invited, said: “Colchester is a garrison town and I, an ex-serviceman, am disgusted by the Bishop of Colchester’s remarks.

“It is indeed most unfortunate and extremely worrying the Bishop of Colchester is failing to recognise the rise of Islam in this country.

“He is seemingly aiding and abetting the cause of Islam by putting his own Christian fellowship and faith to one side – in a Christian land.”

The bishop added: “The Church, of course, does not endorse any one political party, but we do operate out of the conviction that all people equally are created by God and loved by God.

“On this basis, we are glad to work with a broad spectrum of colleagues across our communities.”

His statement follows a call by the next Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell, who described the BNP as using “fear-ridden, race-motivated politics”.