“Appalled” church leaders have handed in a letter at Downing Street, condemning the government’s proposals in the Illegal Migration Bill.
The letter has been signed by almost 1,500 church leaders across the UK, condemning the decision to deport all asylum seekers arriving via small boats across the Channel.
The plans would add to the decision to send asylum seekers to Rwanda whilst they await the results of their claim.
The Illegal Migration Bill passed Committee Stage in the House of Commons on 28th March, and will return for a vote by MPs after the Easter recess.
The statement was handed in to 10 Downing Street by representatives from The Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church in Britain, the United Reformed Church, Churches Together in England and Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.
Rev David Hardman, Methodist Public Issues Team leader, said: “If ever there was a contemporary example of ignoring our neighbor and walking by on the other side, this is it.
“On a moral level, these proposals lack compassion and respect for people’s dignity. On a practical level, they fail to see that punishing people who cross the channel in small boats without offering alternative safe routes will only cause pain and increase the backlog of people who are stuck in unfit accommodation here in the UK.
“Even whilst some MPs are pushing for further tightening of this cruel approach, we know that we can and must do better than this.
“Today we call on the government to lead the way to change by creating and implementing new safe routes by which people can come to the UK to seek sanctuary.”
Rev Steve Tinning, Public Issues Enabler for the Baptist Union of Great Britain, said: “Holy Week is not just a week for spiritual reflection; it is a call to political action.
“ On Palm Sunday, Jesus was welcomed with open arms and then betrayed when the price of being part of His movement of justice appeared too costly.
“On Good Friday, Jesus was laid bare on the cross while the world was exposed for its hostility and violence.
“On Easter Day death was defeated and the hope of life was declared. This Holy Week over 1450 Christian leaders are saying that the Illegal Migration Bill represents nothing of our Christian values of compassion, hospitality and mercy. It threatens the detention of innocent children, it offers no obligation to provide safe routes for those fleeing war and persecution, and it criminalises and punishes innocent victims.
“We implore the government to stop stoking fear and cease their jeers of rejection and hostility. Instead, we ask and pray that our nation might set a table and sacrificially make space for the other.”
Premier Christian News has reached out to the Home Office for comment and awaits a response.