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United Kingdom

Migration: Anglicans criticise politicians' “racist” language

Church of England says country needs “new approach to political life”. Conservative party reacts: “There is a very definite left-wing leaning to their message”.

SOURCES Reuters, Christian Today AUTHOR Evangelical Focus LONDON 18 FEBRUARY 2015 13:00 h GMT+1
Justin Welby Migration Justin Welby. / The Times.

Great Britain is holding elections in three months and one of the major debates both on the streets and in the media is about Inmigration. The Anglican Church joined the conversation last weekend in a pastoral letter, asking for a “new direction” in British politics.

The Church of England’s rare foray into politics was a warning that British democracy was failing and the immigration debate had acquired a racist undercurrent.

Our country is hungry for a new approach to political life that will change the political weather,” Anglicans said.

“No such thing is yet on offer for 2015, though this may be an election that sows the seeds from which a new narrative might emerge. Or it may be an election which confirms people in cynicism and despair.” The text also spoke of Britain’s “almost moribund political culture.”

“Numerous polls show that a majority of people think that it will make no difference whichever party is in power,” the bishops wrote. “Our democracy is failing because successive administrations have done little to address the trends which are most influential in shaping ordinary people’s lives.”



Two of the biggest pre-election issues are Britain’s sizeable budget deficit and immigration. In both debates, the language is dangerously divisive, the bishops said.

“The way we talk about migration, with ethnically identifiable communities being treated as ‘the problem’ has, deliberately or inadvertently, created an ugly undercurrent of racism in every debate about immigration,” they wrote.

On the economics debate, they complained that a narrative describing people living on welfare as “undeserving” deterred people from offering neighbourly help. The bishops also called for a closer European integration.




Graham James.

Bishop of Norwich Graham James added later: “The danger of demonising racial or religious groups is considerable, especially at a time when international terrorism is a destabilising factor among the community of nations. We have to resist this.”

"We hope that this will animate Christians to engage in politics, what we want them to do is to engage in the political processes. We are conscious that there are a number of voices around – probably the most famous of which is Russell Brand – telling people that they shouldn't bother with voting and shouldn't bother to exercise their hard-won democratic freedoms,” Bishop James added.



The Conservative Party reacted strongly to the Church of England opinions. Nadine Dorries, a lawmaker from Prime Minister Cameron’s party, accused the Church of having a left-wing bias.

The Church is always silent when people are seeking its voice, and yet seems to be very keen to dive in on political issues when actually no one is asking it to,” she told BBC radio.

She said: “I would much rather the Church stuck to becoming involved in issues where people are really seeking the Church's voice, such as gender abortion, late term abortion, issues to do with the human tissue and embryology bill."

"The Bible is very clear about the immorality of leaving our children and our grandchildren with debts to pay. The bishops didn't speak up then. It seems to me there is a very definite left-wing leaning to their message. It seems they only want to get involved when it's opportune for them to do so. They have only just accepted women as equals and brought in women bishops. On their message of equality that is going out today their premise for having authority is very biased."



The election will be held May the 7th. Cameron’s Conservatives are narrowly behind or level with the opposition Labour Party in most opinion polls. Some polls suggest large numbers of voters will abandon both in favour of more radical left or right-wing parties such as the Green Party or the anti-EU UK Independence Party.




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Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.