Churches Call British ‘Self Interested’ And Tell Government To Open Calais Border

People walk across train tracks near the Eurotunnel terminal (Rob Stothard/Getty Images)
Rob Stothard/Getty Images

Churches have called on the government to “recognise” that migrants in Calais cannot be turned away and to  “accept the need for the UK to take its share.”

They also branded the British “self interested” and condemned the “dehumanising” language used to discuss migrants.

Leaders of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church – who claim to represent millions of British Christians – released the statement on Friday, along with a “specially” written prayer for the migrants.

The religious leaders claim “the numbers involved do not warrant talk of an ‘invasion’ or ‘flood’ of migrants.” They accuses the British of being “self interested” and says it is wrong for people ask if migrants might bringing down western standards of living, as that implies migrants are “less equal.”

They argue the “UK has been militarily involved in some of the situations that have given rise to the persecutions from which people are fleeing,” and imply it is wrong that Germany, France and Sweden take more asylum seekers than the UK.

They “call on the Government,” therefore, to “recognise that most migrants cannot be returned to their country of origin”; to “promote the establishment of proper, EU-run processing centres”; and to “accept the need for the UK to take its share of migrants.” The statement opens:

“As churches with members directly involved in assisting the people in Calais seeking sanctuary in the UK, we believe it is important that public debate is grounded in values of compassion and that decisions are made on the basis of facts.  In recent weeks discussion has increasingly appeared to be based on the principle of self-interest.”

The religious leaders specific appeal to politicians, in an explicitly political attempt to influence policy, occupies much of the letter. However, they also find words to emulate the left-wing press in their attempt to police the language of the debate.

“The language in which the Calais situation is being discussed tends too often to demonise, denigrate or dehumanise the individuals seeking refuge in Britain,” they say. Adding: “To talk of those gathering at Calais as a ‘swarm’, or ‘marauding around the area’ encourages people to see those in desperation as less than human, and so less deserving of sympathy, respect or dignity.”