The archbishops of Canterbury and York today urge the public not to allow a furore over MPs' expenses to drive them towards the BNP at the forthcoming European elections.
In a joint statement for the Church of England House of Bishops, Dr Rowan Williams and Dr John Sentamu stress they understand the atmosphere of anger and disillusionment following the recent revelations. But they said it would be "tragic" if people chose not to vote, or to register a protest vote, at the European parliamentary and local elections on 4 June.
Their statement says: "This is not a moment for voting in favour of any political party whose core ideology is about sowing division in our communities and hostility on grounds of race, creed or colour...
"The temptation to stay away or register a protest vote in order to send a negative signal to the parties represented at Westminster will be strong," they continue. "In our view, however, it would be tragic if the understandable sense of anger and disillusionment with some MPs over recent revelations led voters to shun the ballot box."
Dr Williams and Dr Sentamu urge "great vigilance" when deciding whom to vote for in the elections. "Those whom we elect to local councils and the European Parliament will represent us and our collective interests for many years to come. It is crucial to elect those who wish to uphold the democratic values and who wish to work for the common good in a spirit of public service."