Faith representatives call for a culture of sanctuary for migrants

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As MPs return to parliament, faith representatives, including Quakers in Britain, urge the government to rethink their approach to immigration, to move away from a hostile environment towards a culture of sanctuary.

The full text of the letter follows:

“As representatives of faith communities, we are dismayed by the current debate around immigration. The long-awaited Immigration white paper is misguided and disjointed, the promised engagement unclear, and the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination Bill a missed opportunity.

“Urgent action is needed to create a more humane system. Refugee families must be kept together, and close family members allowed to join their children in the UK. The right to work after six months should be extended to all people seeking asylum. There must be a time limit on immigration detention, an end to the detention of vulnerable people, and a genuine discussion about the often impossible standards of proof required by the immigration system. The first reaction to those arriving in boats should not be to disbelieve their stories.

“Today is Epiphany, the twelfth day of Christmas; the story of the flight of the Holy Family echoes the plight of refugees around the world. We say to the government: let us help you transform the hostile environment, not into a compliant environment, but into a culture of sanctuary."

Signed by:

  • John Adegoke, Chair, Unification Council of Cherubim & Seraphim Churches, Europe Chapter
  • The Rt. Rev Jonathan Clark, Bishop of Croydon
  • John Collings, Secretary of the Church and Society Committee of the National Synod of Scotland of the United Reformed Church
  • Dr Patrick Coyle, Chair of Cytûn: Churches Together in Wales
  • John P Cross, Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Free Church of Scotland
  • The Most Rev John Davies, Archbishop of Wales
  • The Rev Canon Aled Edwards, CEO Cytûn: Churches Together in Wales
  • Derek Estill, Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church
  • Bob Fyffe, General Secretary, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland
  • The Rev Fleur Houston, Churches Refugee Network
  • The Rt Rev Richard Jackson, Bishop of Lewes
  • The Rev Dr Stephen Keyworth, Faith and Society Team Leader, Baptist Union of Great Britain
  • Derek McAuley, Chief Officer, General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches
  • Kathy Mohan, CEO, Housing Justice
  • The Rev Judith Morris, General Secretary, Baptist Union of Wales
  • Paul Parker, Recording Clerk, Quakers in Britain
  • The Rt Rev Joanna Penberthy, Bishop of St Davids
  • The Most Rev Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness, and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church

* Read more about the Quaker response to migration and Sanctuary Meetings here

*  Quakers are known formally as the Religious Society of Friends. Around 23,000 people attend 478 Quaker meetings in Britain. Their commitment to equality, justice, peace, simplicity and truth challenges them to seek positive social and legislative change.

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.
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