RESIDENTS are rallying against moves by the far-right organisation Britain First which is putting up a candidate to stand in Weymouth in the local elections.

Ken Kearsey's campaigning in the Littlemoor and Preston division for the new Dorset Council has sparked a backlash.

Opponents of Britain First will meet at Littlemoor today and distribute their own leaflets.

It comes as Mr Kearsey, who refers to himself in his election leaflet as a ‘committed Christian’, looks set to have his commission withdrawn from the Church of England.

He was recently commissioned as a lay pastoral assistant – but Bishop of Sherborne, the Rt Revd Karen Gorham, has written to him explaining this will be withdrawn if he continues to be a member of Britain First. Mr Kearsey was due to complete his vows on Palm Sunday.

The Bishop told him in a letter: “I was very much looking forward to being with you on Palm Sunday, however, am relieved that this has come to light beforehand and the incompatibility of beliefs acknowledged. At a time when we are seeking mutual respect, tolerance and love amongst people of different faiths to counter hatred, particularly in the light of what has happened in New Zealand, you will hopefully understand why I need to write this letter.”

The diocese said in a statement: "(Britain First) has been criticised by every major Christian denomination in the UK as is their ‘so called’ claim to be defenders of Christian values, demonstrated by a hatred of Islam.

“We in the Diocese of Salisbury want to make it absolutely clear that the established and local Church wants nothing to do with anything which incites hatred, and spreads fear and mistrust."

Meanwhile, a new community group, Stand Up to Racism, has been established in response to Mr Kearsey standing in the election.

Members will gather at 1pm today at St Francis' Church, Littlemoor before distributing leaflets to houses to “inform residents of the dangers” of Britain First.

Vicar at St Francis', the Rev Lorraine Dobbins, said that as well as Britain First's ideology being at odds with Christian values of tolerance and respect, she is concerned that Mr Kearsey has so far not been involved in the local community – and that his election leaflets do not give details of how he would help people living in the area.

Rev Dobbins added: “We are called to love all our neighbours, to make for peace and seek the common good, while the actions of this organisation are deeply provocative, self-serving and not in any way recognisable as actions motivated by Christian faith.”

Philip Marfleet, on behalf of the Stand up to Racism - Dorset group, hopes people will come together today to deliver the leaflets.

“The purpose is to politely and peacefully inform residents about problems with racist interventions in the elections”, he said.

“The leaflet will invite people to meetings at the church this coming Monday.”

Mr Kearsey, who lives in Crossways, has responded to the letter from the Bishop of Sherborne.

He said in a statement from Britain First: I genuinely feel I am doing God's will. I am 100% committed to Britain First and I will not back down. I think it shows the Anglican Church in a very poor light, they will come out of this looking intolerant and bigoted. I never thought that I would be a martyr for the cause. What next?"

Mr Kearsey said in a letter to the Bishop: "I am very disappointed that you feel the need to challenge my claim to be a 'committed Christian'. I find this comment ill-judged and judgemental. I have faithfully served Our Lord for over 30 years since becoming a Christian in the 1980s.

"You mention the atrocity of the act of terrorism in New Zealand. Britain First of course condemns such senseless killings, recognising that violence breeds yet more violence."

In an update statement later, he said: "Just had a meeting with my vicar and church wardens and I have effectively been kicked out of my local church! It makes me even more determined to stand up for what is right. It's all worth it for Britain First and for our nation."