A group of church ministers and community workers have urged a far-right group to reconsider its plans to march through Luton next month.
On Wednesday the Luton News exclusively revealed that Britain First had unveiled plans to demonstrate through the town on June 27 to “demonstrate that Luton is an English town not a mini caliphate”.
Last June group leader Paul Golding and other members were filmed storming into Luton Central Mosque and Bury Park Mosque to hand out leaflets and bibles.
In an open letter to Mr Golding, church leaders from across Luton have challenged the group’s self-proclaimed Christian stance and have asked for its plans to be shelved.
It reads: “Britain First regularly claim to be defending Christian Britain... however the atmosphere on your marches, and those like them, and the way you operate does not represent Christianity nor the church in Luton.
“As Christians we are committed to share our faith, but we’re also called to love our neighbour, and live at peace with them.
“Britain First seems to have a very different approach.
“We certainly have a large Muslim community in Luton, but there is no no-go zone for non-Muslims, and certainly not the mini-caliphate you claim.
“In fact three of us lead churches in Bury Park, and we are active and well-regarded all around the area, and work together with Muslim colleagues for the good of the whole community.”
It adds: “There are problems between members of our communities, but we are committed to dealing with them positively together, and have people and structures we can call on for help in resolution of things that could divide us.
“Marches like this do not deal with extremism, they simply have the potential to stir up more trouble as the Luton community feels threatened by the march, and many from all communities are angered by your intended presence.”
The full list of signatories to the letter are:
- Rev Mike Jones, Vicar, St Marys Luton
- Bishop Richard Atkinson, Bishop of Bedford (covering Luton)
- Rev Janet Mackenzie, Area Dean for Luton CofE churches.
- Rev David Kesterton, Vicar, All Saints with St Peter’s, Bury Park
- Monsignor Kevin McGinnell, Parish Priest at Holy Ghost, Bury Park Luton and dean for pastoral area of Luton and St Albans.
- Rev Lloyd Denny, Pastor, Restoration and Revival Fellowship, Bury Park
- Michael Singleton, Chair, Churches Together in Luton
- Rev Julie Bradshaw, Superintendent Minister for Methodist Churches in Luton and Dunstable
- Rev Andrew Gale, Central Baptist Church, Luton
- Tony Thompson, Hope Church Luton
- Sue Penn, Secretary, Churches Together in Luton
- Alan Smith, member Churches Together in Luton exec
- Maureen Borbonne, Churches Together in Luton exec
- Peter Adams, Working in Interfaith Relations and Peacebuilding based at St Mary’s Luton and with churches across the town