A BNP member has resigned as a churchwarden after his political views were deemed to be "incompatible" with Christianity.
David North said he was forced to quit his post at St Thomas of Canterbury Church, in Frisby on the Wreake, near Melton, because of his openly-held support for the BNP. The Diocese of Leicester said it simply "pointed out" his views were incompatible with those of the church.
Mr North, of Frisby, said: "After 60 years service to my church at Frisby, I feel very let down to be asked to resign as churchwarden of some 15 years in two stints, having done nothing illegal whatsoever, only to be asked to resign because I'm a member of the BNP. As far as I can tell, I have done nothing wrong. To be asked to resign reasonably forcefully after 60 years' service – it hurts."
Mr North, who has spent the past 15 years serving as a warden, stepped down three weeks ago.
A spokeswoman for the Diocese of Leicester said: "It was pointed out to Mr North that membership of the BNP is incompatible with being a practising Christian. This is the Bishop's complete stance on it. We received a letter from Mr North telling us he had resigned. We did not ask him to but he had been under a lot of pressure. The pastor is not able to kick out a churchwarden, but it can be pointed out that he must make a choice between the BNP and the Church. Members of the congregation can be a member of the BNP but he held an office in the church and was representing us both legally and professionally."
The Archdeacon of Leicester, the Venerable Richard Atkinson, had discussed Mr North's position with the Frisby vicar, the Rev Martin Dale. He said: "Any party that has one of its major tenets of faith based on a failure to value people of other ethnicities and colour is incompatible with the Christian gospel of everybody made in the image of God. What happened with David North is that his particular set of beliefs are being challenged. In Christianity, you love the individual but not everything about the person."
The Church passed a resolution at its February Synod that membership of the BNP was incompatible with being a member of the clergy. Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey reacted with outrage to claims from BNP leader Nick Griffin that his party was "the Christian party". The Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Rev Tim Stevens, has criticised the party's use of posters ahead of the European elections which quoted the words of Jesus followed by the question: "What would Jesus do? Vote BNP" and voiced his concern over Nick Griffin's recent appearance on BBC's Question Time.
Mr North's departure came to light after a letter was sent to the Leicester Mercury from worshipper Sue Veasey, of Frisby. Mrs Veasey, who is also a BNP supporter, was listed as the "proposer" for Mr North's son James's bid to be elected as a BNP county councillor earlier this year.
She copied the Mercury into a letter she sent to the Bishop of Leicester in support of Mr North. She wrote: "It is nothing to do with you, the Church or anyone else as to how Mr North or anyone else votes. A good many Christians think the same as Mr North but dare not speak out in case they get ostracised by the Church and classed as fascists."