Bishop rejects rhetoric which blames asylum seekers

JONATHAN CLARK, the Bishop of Croydon, in his Easter message, says that we should be trying to help asylum-seekers and those on benefits

One of things that really concerns me in our country is that we have started to load all our problems on to certain groups, as if they were the only problem and there is no other difficulty in the world.

The Bishop of Croydon

Jonathan Clark, Bishop of Croydon: even asylum seekers are human

That just isn’t true, and I think we need to return to a Biblical principle.

When the prophet Micah was speaking about what God required of people he says, “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness?”

And I think we need to do justice but we also need to love kindness and, particularly in our response to asylum seekers, we do not do justice in this country.

There are some people who treat those who come seeking asylum as if they were worthless, but what I find very interesting is that some people are generally condemnatory, but when they actually meet individuals, they realise that they are human beings like them, who need help like them.

The great growth in food banks is meeting a pressing and immediate need.

We need to continue to question the decisions that have been made about some of the changes in benefits to say: “Is this actually about responding to a real situation, or is it more about a rhetoric of finding victims?”

We should not be taken in by rhetoric which actually isn’t true, about ‘hoards of spongers’, which don’t exist.

All over the borough there are churches who are actively helping the poor and not just fishing people out of the stream but asking why they fell into the stream in the first place.

We are not created to live in isolation. We are created to find our fulfilment in community and in helping one another, as Paul says to the Galatians, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ”.

If you say to someone, “Oh, I wish you well”, and then don’t do anything, then you are not really living out the faith.

Easter offers a message of hope, a message of life. A Promise of resurrection. The future as a place of hope.

It isn’t part of the English characteristic to be unrealistically optimistic. It is, in fact, somewhat the opposite.

Easter stands as a challenge to that sort of predisposition to think of the future with a certain of amount of dread and anxiety and to say actually that is where God is.

  • Bishop Jonathan was interviewed by Andrew Pelling

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1 Response to Bishop rejects rhetoric which blames asylum seekers

  1. I understand the Bishop’s concerns. Britain is a small island and how many more people can we let in as asylum seekers. I am an asylum seeker who arrived in Croydon in 1987. Things were different at that time.

    I know exactly how a number of asylum seekers use the system to claim the maximum possible resources from the government. There are some who are experts who can actually teach the DWP staff on how to and how not to claim benefits.

    There are genuine asylum seekers who have done well in this country and also have contributed more to this country.

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