Bishop Tom Butler, Acting Bishop of Bradford, has condemned recent actions by the far right group, ‘Britain First’ in a speech at a gathering of councillors, civic leader, community and faith leaders held in Bradford Cathedral. Bishop Butler used the opportunity of his address at the annual Bradford Civic Thanksgiving Service to condemn the group which had attempted to give out Bibles and leaflets at several mosque’s in the city a week earlier.
The service on May 17th was part of a day of events marking the end of a year in officer for the Lord Mayor, Councillor Khadim Hussain. The day began with a service of thanksgiving at the Cathedral which involved people of all faiths and was followed by a procession from the Cathedral to the City Hall led by a Jazz Band and finally a carnival parade made up of local schools, groups and organisations all illustrating Bradford as a UNESCO city of film.
In his Cathedral Address, Bishop Butler said the actions of the far right group were disgraceful. Referring to a delegation of ten members which has arrived at the home of the Lord Mayor, Bishop Butler said, “Mr Lord Mayor I say that none of you expect thanks, but neither do you expect the appalling treatment which you experienced last week when a delegation arrived at your home demanding to meet with you. I can well understand that your daughters felt intimidated, and I hope that there is no repeat of such disgraceful behaviour in a city which has worked so hard to develop good relationships between the communities and the faiths.”
He added, “The situation is made worse in my eyes when other protestors at mosques in the city carried bibles and seemed to be claiming Christian authority for their behaviour. Mr Mayor, our holy books, be they the Bible or the Koran are not to be waved in people’s faces like a weapon. They are to be treated with reverence and respect and that has always been the tradition in this great city of Bradford.”
Earlier the Bishop Nick Baines, the Bishop of Leeds had also spoken out against the actions of Britain First on BBC Look North. He said that relations between the Muslim and Christian communities in Bradford was strong with leaders meeting and working together.
The service was held in Bradford Cathedral, which Bishop Tom described as “a place of music and meeting, worship and word for all the peoples of the borough, a safe space where deep matters of faith and no faith can be explored in an atmosphere of dialogue and mutual respect.” Referring to the recent creation of the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales he underlined the church’s continued commitment to the city of Bradford. “…the Episcopal area is now virtually coterminous with the metropolitan civic boundaries and this is a sign of our determination to be a good partner with you and all the peoples of Bradford as the city of the future takes shape.”