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Stephen Walshe
Stephen Walshe
9 months ago

Migrants will not be deported to Rwanda. They will be processed in Rwanda rather than in the UK to create a powerful disincentive to people entering the UK illegally and defying the authorities to deport them. The comparison with Jews to Kenya in 1903 is therefore misconceived. If bishop wish to enter into party political debate, they cannot recoil in horror when they get a political response. Slanging matches and tossing around terms like “disgraceful slur” are not only unbecoming, they reduce the Church from a timeless institution in one moral realm into another ineffectual left wing lobby group in a very crowded market place.

Last edited 9 months ago by Stephen Walshe
James Chater
James Chater
9 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walshe

But is the actual ‘people-smuggling’ issue a ‘party political’ debate? Not all Conservatives back the plan. It does seem unworkable and a waste of public funds, much more than currently being spent. The reason it is such a crisis now is yes because of politics, the inevitable political fallout of leaving the EU, with a petulant post-Brexit government without the necessary diplomatic skill and care, seemingly. No one wants uncontrolled immigration but much more needs to be done to give hope so that people stand a chance of being settled, with proper official annual quotas.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
9 months ago
Reply to  James Chater

The Church is absolutely entitled to make high level moral judgments about refugees.

Rwanda is a possible way of managing refugees. The church has no right whatsoever to judge the technicalities of how governments go about handling large flows of refugees.

Perhaps Giles wouldn’t be so keen on the Church having views on government policy, if Welby was replaced by the chap who runs the Russian Othodox church, profiled in Unherd yesterday.

James Chater
James Chater
9 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

If the Church is ‘entitled to make high level moral judgments about refugees’ then how they are treated cannot be separated out.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
9 months ago
Reply to  James Chater

Really? The church has the expertise to comment on the geographic location of asylum seekers holding centres?

The church can express sympathy with migrants, possibly an opinion on how welcoming the country should be, but is totally unqualified to have an opinion on the legal and logistical systems required to process their applications.

James Chater
James Chater
9 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Just who has the ‘expertise to comment’ on ‘geographic location’? This government? Selecting Rwanda is driven by political calculation. It is vindictive.

Last edited 9 months ago by James Chater
Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
9 months ago
Reply to  James Chater

“This” government, as opposed to “the” government, is driven by your political opinions.

Any government relies on analysis provided by civil servants, that’s what they are there for. Stuff like this isn’t just dreamt up by the politicians of the day. They set out a problem and ask for solutions. Since Denmark is also reaching the same conclusion, one must assume there is some validity to the suggestion.

I haven’t examined the proposals in detail and neither have you. Perhaps we should both do that before reacting to moral outrage headlines.

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
9 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

“The church has no right whatsoever to judge the technicalities of how governments go about handling large flows of refugees.”
Really, even if the solution were to sink them at sea? How about a religion-inspired comment on Russian troops killing fleeing Ukrainian refugees?

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
9 months ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

We have one – see Unherd article a couple of days ago about the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Is he as entitled to give his view of morality to the secular authority?

Saul D
Saul D
9 months ago

The old ‘refugees’ confounding trick, which dates back to at least the 1970s. Yes we should help refugees, those fleeing war temporarily deserve total compassion and assistance for situations not of their making.
However, refugees are not the same as migrants ‘fleeing France and the horrors of the EU’ (/sarc) across the channel, paying for passage in small unsafe boats, seeking personal gain. Those are people who should be dissuaded, if nothing else than for their own safety, and forced to use the proper humane and official procedures that are available. Jumping the queue by turning up on English shores, is not fair on those trying to emigrate legally.

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
9 months ago
Reply to  Saul D

I would add that ‘helping refugees’ does not mean giving them permanent residence in Britain. Many countries take refugees on the strict understanding that they will be returned to their countries once order and security have been restored.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
9 months ago

 those who criticise the Rwandan plan – though that may be too grand a word – have a responsibility to propose other solutions to the refugee crisis”

What other solutions are Welby and the author proposing?

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
9 months ago

Maybe he could offer some of the empty churches as accommodation for asylum seekers – part-funded from church coffers – instead of wasting time and money on management consultants.

Last edited 9 months ago by Ian Barton
Andrew D
Andrew D
9 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Lambeth Palace and its extensive gardens could house a large number of migrants, I’m sure he’s on the case

Peter B
Peter B
9 months ago
Reply to  Andrew D

And those in large [subsidised by others] palaces (I believe Welby has two) probably shouldn’t be throwing stones – let alone the first one.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
9 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

He has a house in France. My guess is that he likes France because it is far less densely populated than England.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
9 months ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

Or at least the house was affordable for him because France is far less densely populated than England .
If he had had a little dance on Easter Sunday in a tutu we could respect his authenticity, instead of preachy man in a yellow frock. Has he had his teeth dyed to match ?

David Simpson
David Simpson
9 months ago

While I agree completely with GF that the church and its leaders have a right to speak out on “political” issues, I think there are two aspects which should not be forgotten. One, that the Church today speaks for a very small minority of the population (if we consider its constituency to be regular church goers, of whatever denomination) and it is not itself very democratic. And two, when the Archbishop speaks, is he speaking on God’s behalf or his own? Often, the pronouncements of the hierarchy just seem to reflect the consensus view of metropolitan liberals. As GF himself says, if they are going to condemn this or that policy, I think they have a duty to say what they think should be done instead. Of which, for example, I think Faith in the City was a good example. One may not have agreed with their analysis or prescriptions, but they did not sit on the fence.

If Rwanda is not an answer to the 1,000s of economic migrants attempting to cross the Channel, what is?

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
9 months ago
Reply to  David Simpson

… when the Archbishop speaks, is he speaking on God’s behalf or his own? Often, the pronouncements of the hierarchy just seem to reflect the consensus view of metropolitan liberals.
That is the question. Are Welby’s pronouncements are self-serving or not. If a person believes in God, how can they tell?
I am an atheist so Welby’s pronouncements are in essence a reflection of his own or the “hierarchy’s” political position.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
9 months ago

I am a Christian, and also say Welby’s pronouncements are in essence a reflection of his own or the “hierarchy’s” political position.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
9 months ago

It is fine for Welby to express his view as to what view God might take on any policy proposed by the Government. I am, however, sceptical as to whether God would be in favour of a policy that favoured the people smuggler and the risks these present to those who want to circumvent the established migration channels and effectively jump the queue. God may, for all I know, be in favour of the right of a man to settle wherever he likes and obtain charitable relief from the local inhabitants regardless of the wishes of the existing inhabitants but I think he would be in a small minority among the existing inhabitants. Welby is free to claim Devine support for his secular views but the result may be to diminish his already small flock further.

Last edited 9 months ago by Jeremy Bray
Michael J
Michael J
9 months ago

Why does the CofE believe that the help that we are morally obliged to provide to poor people in far flung parts of the world is to let them all move here and give them a 3 bed semi in the suburbs and £2000 a month spending money? Does the church believe that we have an endless supply of housing and other resources to solve the world’s problems? Has it thought through the consequences to the native culture, demographics and indeed the established religion of this country of pursuing an open borders policy? Why is it immoral to provide assistance by reaching an agreement with a friendly third country where they will be welcomed (and that we are paying for)?

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
9 months ago
Reply to  Michael J

Or, why are they making public pronouncements at all? Why not just get on with funding as much relief and assistance to unfortunate people whether here or abroad? It seems that what they are doing is suggesting a public policy which we will fund, and not they.

Peter B
Peter B
9 months ago

The problem with Welby’s denunciation of “outsourcing” the Channel migrant problem to Rwanda is that he ignores the original sin – that a preceding succession of Christian European countries “outsourced” their problem to us first.
None of these “moralists” denouncing Britain ever seem to remark on this or offer any condemnation of France et al whos guilt must be at least as great as ours in this matter. If they do, I have yet to hear it.
Furthermore, Welby ignores the well-established law – that migrants must claim asylum in the first safe country. France et al not being “unsafe”.
By not standing up for the law and real morality, Welby and his ilk are actually complicit in human trafficking.
It may well be time to disestablish the Church of England – and perhaps even rename it. It opposes the law (render unto Caesar …) and does not speak for the majority of people in England. I do not understand why it should now have any role in government or any preferential tax treatment. If Welby wishes to participate in politics, he should stand for election just like anyone else.
I do enjoy Giles’ articles. You – Giles – have not “lost your flock” (previous article). Welby has though. The man’s a disgrace.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
9 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

The problem is he seriously seems to think ( or pretends to at least ) that he speaks for God

Bill W
Bill W
9 months ago

I am being converted to disestablishment.

Peter B
Peter B
9 months ago
Reply to  Bill W

What took you so long ?

R Wright
R Wright
9 months ago

Nonsensical takes like this are why I stopped being an Anglican. “Slave morality”, indeed.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
9 months ago

When I can take part in the election of the Archbishop, I will be more inclined to listen to his thoughts and opinions. Power without responsibility indeed

Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
9 months ago

Sure, bishops can make political comments, but they have no right to be offended or outraged when they receive a political rejoinder. It smacks of “Do you know who I am?” – ism.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
9 months ago

On the Sunday following the Brexit referendum, the preacher (not the rector) gave a sermon, and criticised the result of the vote. I don’t remember any logical or religious justification, if she gave on.
I normally sit patiently for the sermon, but that jolted me, because I voted Leave, and did not go to church expecting to be told I had sinned in doing so. However, I smiled and shook hands with her as I left.
As I walked away from the church, I was in the company of a relative who voted Remain. We are in complete harmony with one another, respecting each other’s decision as personal and made in good faith. I said nothing but he was spluttering in anger that she should publicly denounce the result as morally reprehensible.

Last edited 9 months ago by Colin Elliott
Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
9 months ago

I’m not sure whether bishops should be political, but I’m pretty sure we would be better served if politicians were more religious. Not phony, Pharisaic actions, I mean real religion.
When was the last time an MP discussed his daily prayer vigil, or his sense of individual and collective, national sin, or the responsibility he feels as God has granted them the right to serve as a representative of the people.

I’m a fairly orthodox Christian, but I would vote for a devout Muslim or Jew who was willing to talk about things like that over a the lackluster Moral Therapeutic Deists we commonly get.

Tom Jennings
Tom Jennings
9 months ago

Sir,
I think you are onto something. We have more than a few intelligent, charming, sociopaths on the upper rungs of the political ladder. Prelates who enter the arena with this crowd are likely to be co-opted.

James Chater
James Chater
9 months ago

‘Not only is the Bible one of the most influential works of political philosophy ever written, it is largely seen through the lens of the refugee.’ I hate my own pedantry but is not the Bible a ‘collected works’, a cannon? Surely much of it cannot be seen through that ‘lens’.

Last edited 9 months ago by James Chater
Alan Osband
Alan Osband
9 months ago
Reply to  James Chater

Look at all the stuff in the Old Testament involving people of different ethnicity and culture fighting over the same piece of land . Surely we need to take care not to bring about the conditions for inter tribal warfare here .

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
9 months ago

CoE Archbishops can of course be political but Giles fails to recognise the CoE speaks for an already tiny sect in extremely steep decline facing an existential crisis. The views of the CoE management are no more relevant or pious than the legion of other organised groups and should not attract much reportage. That the Archbishop’s views do attract so much reportage is only because of the CoE’s establishment by the force of the state, not any special claim on morality. On that basis, it is morally repugnant in a representative democracy to have an established part of the state try and undermine the elected part of the state. The Archbishop’s politicking is making the case, one that demographics will insist on, for the disestablishment of the CoE and the transfer of many of its assets to the state for redistribution.

Last edited 9 months ago by Nell Clover
Susan Lundie
Susan Lundie
9 months ago

Archbishop Welby is at liberty to voice his personal opinion, though given his past opinion on a few things religious since he was appointed, I object to him doing so from that standpoint on this issue.
I might take his opinion rather more seriously if he had qualified it by putting forward viable suggestions from the Church for dealing with a problem which is rapidly becoming a completely untenable situation in our oversubscribed island.

AC Harper
AC Harper
9 months ago

Should Bishops be political? No reason why not, but despite the trappings of political polarisation, politics is mostly about compromise either directly or over the lifetime of several parliaments.
Political compromise is therefore a poison pill to those who hold faith to be absolute. Is it unChristian to turn away economic migrants? If so the Arch Bishop should be arguing that we lay on transport for safe travel across the Channel for all those who care to come. No?

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
9 months ago

Trust me, follow me, obey me and I will deliver you to the promised land – they cry of socialists throughout time and always with the same outcome, poverty.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
9 months ago

Jesus a good Jew? Heretic surely
Anyway , whether promised by God or not , wasn’t Moses leading the Jews into the land inhabited by Canaanites and others disastrous for the indigenous folk .
look at Sweden and other parts of Europe (UK too) and see the terrible problems caused by no -borders idealists , secular or religious , for those born there .
Surely there is enough hideous violence recorded in the Bible between rival peoples fighting over the promised land to give Christians pause for thought before encouraging mass migration .

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
9 months ago

Pat of the problem is that the C of E having ceased to be “the Tory Party at prayer,” has morphed into the Green Party at prayer. We need to hear from a conservative-minded bishop – in the interests of balance.

Mark Vernon
Mark Vernon
9 months ago

The identification of politics and religion is a disaster that is being played out in our times: when politics fails us, as inevitably it will, a society that has nowhere else to turn, because the religious vision is dissolved in the political event, turns on itself and steadily wrecks itself.

It becomes no longer possible to tell the difference between what is Caesar’s and what is God’s. The upshot is that most forget the latter, and the manipulative are free to elide the two (witness the case of Putin).

Surely reading the bible properly is precisely not to treat Moses’ death before entering the Promised Land as an unlucky contingency, but as the very culmination and meaning of entering it. The text underlines that the kingdom sought is not of this world, to switch to Jesus’ phrase, by saying Moses’ burial place isn’t known “to this day”: he belongs elsewhere.

To put it another way again: we are all refugees, which is why the refugee has a special status. Indeed, the whole of creation is not fundamentally the here and now, but rather the here and now is the temporal expression of awakening/returning to life in God – the one and only domain necessary for life.

We die to eternal life, as Easter recalls. Our end is our beginning. Only with that recognition can politics be genuinely free.

Liz Walsh
Liz Walsh
9 months ago

I look to the Church to guide me in my relationship to my Creator,to help me be a better person. That better person will decide for herself how she express her civic duties. It is not the Church’s place to insist I care about “diversity, equity, inclusion, social justice etc.” or any other piffle du jour, certainly not to advise on disposition of immigrants.. As much as churches depend on money and the support of the powerful they will be fashion victims to their age. A lot of us still seek a more timeless point of view, and trust we will be guided by our faith. The Church is making itself irrelevant with needless haste. As an inhabitant of a nation, in which I was placed by God, I cherish what I know to be that nation’s environmental carrying capacity — physically, culturally, politically, in many ways — and sense that someone who seeks to override that has somehow lost sight of faith in the Creator. Goodness in the world begins with goodness at home, in each heart and soul. That is the Church’s proper mission, the cure of souls, not dirigiste political persuasion.

John Tyler
John Tyler
9 months ago

The Israelites were refugees, that is seeking refuge from slaughter and slavery. Those sent to Rwanda for processing are almost all migrants trying to enter Britain illegally. There’s a big difference.

Mind you, at least most illegal immigrants want work alongside the existing population. The Israelites were less benign in Canaan! Fortunately, with exceptions such as Putin, few people today are likely to use violence to get what they want than was the case in the Bronze Age.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
9 months ago
Reply to  John Tyler

That’s because this is a welfare state which is why they come. It doesn’t mean migrants are equally law abiding , as can be seen at a glance from the drug dealing demographic where I live .

Iris C
Iris C
9 months ago

The problem with the hierarchy of the church criticising government policy is that they do not need to respond to the wishes of the electorate or balance the books.
.

kjmahoney980
kjmahoney980
9 months ago

When I hear CofE bishops commenting on politics I’m reminded of what Dietrich Bonhoeffer said about his fellow students at seminary in the US – “They preach about everything…… except the gospel of Jesus Christ”. During lockdown my own diocesan bishop found time on several occasions to criticism the government via social media, but I looked in vain for any words of spiritual comfort from him.

D Glover
D Glover
9 months ago

.

Last edited 9 months ago by D Glover
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
9 months ago

So this writer thinks it’s justified for the Russian Orthodox Church to support the Russian state in the slaughter of Ukrainians?

Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
9 months ago

Giles, you surely mean ‘elicit’ not ‘illicit’ (3 lines up from the end)? an unfortunate slip…

János Klein
János Klein
9 months ago

Perhaps I’m wrong, but that struck me as an autocorrect error, or else the author seems to get carried away with his own words.

Last edited 9 months ago by János Klein
János Klein
János Klein
9 months ago

The Easter story shows that religion and politics ( the Law ) are not always compatible. Religion is about an ideal world; politics is about pragmatic here-and-now solutions. Pope Francis wants to combine the spiritual and the temporal but is he successful?
Her Majesty, Queen Elisabeth, (God bless her) is a far better role-model : leading her people from the terrible years of the 20th century into the hi-tech wonders of the 21st century where wars may still be fought over religion or territory, but are more usually done via words and virtual keyboards.

Melissa Martin
Melissa Martin
9 months ago

I’ve had my fill of men in frocks telling me what truth is.

Jacob Mason
Jacob Mason
9 months ago

Another enjoyable article here. Without commenting on the particular matter at hand, I appreciate and agree with the general principle of the fundamental inseparability of church and state.

Tommy Fisher
Tommy Fisher
8 months ago

Religion needs to stay out of politics altogether. Bronze age belief systems have no place in the modern world and why should religious leaders from one faith have political influence whilst others do not (CofE in the House of Lords?) Did you happens to read a lovely version of Deuteronomy to your kids, or perhaps numbers all condoning slavery? This is the problem with religion, you pick and choose what is convenient to teach and believe and then force that on people who do not believe as you do. Fine when we can ignore you but a massive issue when religion gets political.

Henry Haslam
Henry Haslam
9 months ago

Certainly, Christians should, if they wish, be actively involved in politics. I think all the main political parties in the UK benefit from having Christians among their membership.
Many different viewpoints will be represented within the Church of England. Bishops, therefore, speak for themselves, not for the the Church of England (unless something has been debated and voted in General Synod).
I didn’t find that Archbishop Welby’s sermon, including the few sentences about the Rwanda scheme, particularly resonated with me – but that’s often the way with sermons.
I have yet to read anything that commends the proposed Rwanda scheme to me, though I am willing to be convinced. On the other hand, there are several very positive ideas around that would help to deal with the situation.

Edwin Lerner
Edwin Lerner
9 months ago

Good article as always from Giles Fraser, who is not afraid to express a view at odds with the establishment. But surely it is ‘elicit’ not ‘illicit’ in the last para. A typo or the perils of predictive text?

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
9 months ago
Reply to  Edwin Lerner

Open borders / mass migration IS the default establishment position in politics , media and academia. This is why Boris feels the need to defend the scheme as a defence of migrants from people smugglers rather as a defence of UK citizens from undeportable illegal migrants .

Simon South
Simon South
9 months ago

I totally agree with this article. When you see the immense wealth of Catholic Social teaching especially over the last 140 years since Pope Leo XIII and up to and including Pope Francis all from within the message of Scripture and the dignity due to all humanity and the care of the poor and disenfranchised members of society, the disconnect between faith and politics is wrong. Especially in the current times when our House of Commons appears to be led by people without a moral compass and a purely self serving agenda. It is the Churches mission to defend and promote human dignity and respect

Peter B
Peter B
9 months ago
Reply to  Simon South

Let’s just remember for a moment the “moral compass” of the Catholic church in systematically covering up child abuse by priests all over the world for decades. And their failure to comply with the law in these matters.
They should be prosecuted and not admired.

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
9 months ago
Reply to  Simon South

You surely can’t be referring to the Catholic Church of Rome? I can’t think of a single organisation bigger and more guilty of systemic accomodation and protection of so many abusers and abuses across all the inhabited continents of the world. That adherents today still exist in a state of denial over its grotesque behaviour demonstrates it is clan loyalty and not piety that is at the heart of it.

Tom Jennings
Tom Jennings
9 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

He surely is referring to the Roman Catholic Church. My unsolicited suggestion is to distinguish between the message and the messenger. Our politicians would benefit from regular lectures on various aspects of Catholic social teaching even if there are villians on the altar.

Peter B
Peter B
9 months ago
Reply to  Tom Jennings

Of course, the decent and honest majority of the Catholic church – and I fully accept the vast majority are decent – could disown the corrupt hierarchy that protected the child abusers and break away to start again. This is what the Protestants repeatedly did. But that seems not to be the Catholic way. Instead, they just double down and invent mythical concepts like “Papal infallibility” in the late 1800s.

Kat L
Kat L
9 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

The problem with Protestantism is that with the endless creation of new denominations it is so watered down it’s going to eventually mean nothing.

D Glover
D Glover
9 months ago
Reply to  Simon South

I believe that Boris Johnson has recently returned to Catholicism.