Being a nationalist does have its bleak moments. Physical assault and wrongful arrest are occupational hazards for active members of the British National Party. I have not as yet been either assaulted or arrested, but I have had people yell obscenities at me.
Many things change, but some things have a habit of staying the same. In the eighteenth century there was a religious revival in the British Isles which saw courageous men travelling the country, preaching in chapels or even in the open air. John Wesley was the most famous. Howell Harris, George Whitefield, and John’s brother Charles were other prominent figures. Although these men won the admiration of many people, they were often persecuted. Persecution could take the form of verbal abuse or even mob violence, but the revivalists were made of stern stuff. They did not back down, and today the Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church of Wales both owe their existence to those eighteenth century champions of the faith.
In the nineteenth century, a Methodist minister called William Booth formed a breakaway religious movement which eventually became known as the Salvation Army. As its name suggests it was organised along military lines, and its members wore uniforms, as many of them still do today. In the early days these uniforms included bonnets for the women members, which were reinforced with cardboard as a form of protection. Apparently this was because ruffians sometimes threw stones at members of the Salvation Army, possibly because they did not warm to being told to give up drinking alcohol.
Going further back in time to the seventeenth century, John Bunyan, the author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, was imprisoned for preaching without a licence. Of course the persecution of Christians is as old as the religion itself. Jesus told his followers that he was sending them out “like sheep among wolves” (Matthew chapter 10 verse 16).
British nationalists are proud of our heritage. The blood that flows in our veins is the blood that won the Battle of Trafalgar, the blood that defended Rorkes Drift, and the blood that endured the blitz. It is also the blood that flowed in the veins of Bunyan, Wesley, and Booth. As we carry the message of nationalism we would do well to remember them. If we are persecuted, then so were they. They did not give up the fight, and neither will we.