Dear Sisters and Brothers,
The Joint Public Issues Team which includes the Methodist Church has issued the following statement about the government's "Illegal Migration Bill" which has been signed by nearly 1500 people.
"We are appalled by the proposals in the government's 'Illegal Migration Bill' to detain, punish and reject thousands of people seeking safety. They are completely incompatible with our Christian conviction that all human beings are made in the image of God, and are therefore inherently worthy of treatment which honours their dignity. Instead of dignity, these plans will foster discrimination and distrust, and cause immeasurable harm to people already made vulnerable by conflict and persecution. If ever there was a contemporary example of ignoring our neighbour and walking by on the other side, this is it.
"When two in three people who cross the channel to seek sanctuary in the UK are granted asylum following rigorous checks, it seems unthinkable to reject them before they have even had a chance to have their claim for asylum heard. Many people fleeing war and persecution in countries such as Iraq, Iran, Syria, Eritrea and Sudan have been left with no safe and accessible routes to claim asylum in the UK, forcing people to make difficult and dangerous decisions. The UK falls far behind our global neighbours in welcoming people seeking sanctuary into our communities, and yet these plans essentially put a ban on claiming asylum and reject the UK's responsibility to play our part in responding to global inequalities and conflict.
"We all agree that we cannot continue to see thousands of people risk their lives to reach safety in the UK, but the solution cannot be deterrence and punishment. As Christians, we believe that we should be amongst the first to welcome the stranger with open arms. We urge the government to withdraw this legislation, to honour our moral and international obligations and to behave with compassion and fairness by establishing safe and accessible routes to enable the UK to play its part in welcoming people in need of safety."
In the season of Easter, we celebrate God's transforming gift of new life and the power of the resurrection which overcomes death and destruction. A compassionate response to refugees which offers them hope and the possibility of a new beginning is one way of demonstrating our Easter faith.
With every blessing,
This Pastoral Letter has been published in the Summer 2023 Preaching Plan