Some were not interested in losing their power and corrupt privileges. Others preferred to continue their religious life with a “straw God”.
The Italian Evangelical Alliance emphasises the “inherent dignity” of all migrants. Family reunification and integration policies should be implemented.
In a statement (read, Italian), the AEI expresses “a strong concern for the evolution of migration policies and rules which have to do with the reception of immigrants in our country”.
While respecting the difficult work of government in the challenge of migration (180,000 people were rescued in the Mediterranean in 2016), the organisation observes that there are policies that are “unsustainable” and “potentially detrimental to the fundamental human rights”.
“The biblical mandate, the Christian faith and values” lead the AEI to underline that “immigrants are people made in the image of God and, as such, bearers of an irreducible dignity”.
MANY MIGRANTS MEMBERS OF EVANGELICAL CHURCHES
Many of those who arrived to the Italian coasts are regularly in touch with evangelical communities.
“We have a special relationship with many immigrants and know the problems they face daily in our country very well. Many of them, in fact, are active members of our churches, of our ministries and mission agencies”.
In the Bible, “it is God himself who gives special attention for the ‘foreigners’: He defends their cause, provides them with all necessary resources. (Deuteronomy 10: 18-19)”. To engage with the migration crisis is “not just a matter of charity, but of justice”.
“As a Christian people, we are called to fight for justice for all, especially of those who are oppressed and powerless (Proverbs 31: 8)”, the statement says.
“A coherent policy to the principles of civilization and democracy in our opinion should take several factors into account, including:
a) The need to multiply the legal routes for entry and stabilization;
b) The use of the greatest possible attention in the various humanitarian actions (reception, repatriation, ...)
c) The need to promote organically (and artificially) family reunification and to activate cultural and social policies of integration while respecting diversity”.
RACISM AND PREJUDICE
Italian evangelicals also realise that “many fears towards immigrants are due to patterns in some way marked by racism and prejudice. Much political rhetoric seems to be moving in this disturbing direction”.
“The main problem seems to be the disagreement and internal cultural tensions in the country that immigrants generate almost naturally. There is in fact a form of popular anger that easily pours into those who are different, those we don’t understand and do not know well”.
“For this reason – the AEI concludes – immediate actions should be activated in support of pluralism and diversity”.
COLLABORATION IN EUROPE
Since October 2016, several evangelical organisations in Europe are joining monthly video-calls to share experiences, ideas, challenges and solutions to the migration crisis.