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Refugee crisis

Czech churches ready for refugees

Only one minister in the government supports the European refugee quota. 71% of citizens are reluctant, but evangelicals call to take action following Jesus’ teachings.

AUTHOR Nelleke Wolters PRAGUE 15 SEPTEMBER 2015 17:39 h GMT+1
czech, refugees Citizens in the Czech Republic supporting the arrival of refugees are still a minority. / KTC

“Czech police haul migrants off trains to Germany and 'write numbers on their arms in ink”. This was the heading of an article in The Independent on 2 September.

Refugees were numbered with permanent marker on their forearm.  After being criticized by Czech NGOs and a few foreign Jewish organizations, the foreign police promised to use other means to keep families together. Unfortunately, it’s not the only poor show of the Czech Republic in the current refugee crisis.

The Czech Republic significantly resists taking in refugees. This is true for Slovakia, Poland and Hungary as well.

The Czech government tries very hard to keep the refugees out of the country. There is exactly one minister who supports the proposal of the European Committee for a mandatory refugee quota, Robert Pelikán. He called on the government to support the mandatory quota, but government still stubbornly refuses to accept it.



According to prime minister Sobotka, the only way to help refugees is voluntarily.  But there is little enthusiasm among the Czech population to take in refugees. A recent poll found that 71% of Czechs support the policy of the government. 

But that’s no surprise, according to Pelikán. People will be xenophobic if politicians use a xenophobic tone. But it doesn’t have to stay like this. “If we appeal to their compassion and solidarity, which is something everybody can feel, the people will show solidarity,” Pelikán said to the Prague Post.

Pelikán is not alone in his appeal. The Czech churches informed the government that they are ready to help refugees and contribute to their integration. They also call for their government to help refugees and not to reject them. This is the response of the Roman Catholic Church to the appeal of Pope Francis that Christians should make an effort to help Christians.



But also the protestant churches are calling for action. Daniel Fajfr, chairman of the Free Evangelical Church (Církev bratrská) wrote a pastoral letter to all church boards in which he reminds elders and churches that it was God himself who told the people of Israel to welcome strangers because they had been strangers in Egypt.

He also refers to Jesus’ words in Matthew 25, where He characterizes his followers thus: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.”

Fajfr went on to say: “And I want to remind you, that all support has a price and it is often not without risks, but it brings us God’s blessing for which we hope.”  The pastor further called upon the churches to open their doors to refugees, whether the refugees are Christians or not. Fajfr gives some advice on how churches can offer practical help as well: Christian communities can help people find a job, offer language courses or assist them with the necessary formalities.




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