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World News

Rwanda policy 'not consistent with gospel message' says Baptist Union as more than a thousand cross Channel in a day

by Sophie Drew

The number of migrants making their way across the English Channel so far in 2022 is almost at the level for the entirety of 2021 - Christians are arguing that the government's current response goes against the basic teachings of the gospel. 

The High Court continues to consider the government's Rwanda scheme, which would see asylum seekers sent to Africa whilst their applications are considered. 

The controversial plans have been condemned by a number of church leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Most Rev Justin Welby accused the government of shirking their responsibilities - a sentiment echoed by the Baptist Union following the influx in people braving the perilous journey over the weekend. 

Around 1,160 people crossed the English Channel on Sunday, 4th August 2022.

Figures from the Ministry of Defence show 25 small boats made the dangerous journey.

It takes the number for this year to just over 27,000. The total for the whole of 2021 was 28,500. 

Steve Tinning, public issues enabler for the Baptist Union, told Premier Christian News: "Counter to the government's narrative, churches that have been campaigning around this issue don't see making our migration policies even more hostile than they currently are to be a solution to this.

"The real solution to helping people not risk their lives and to breaking the smuggler rings is to work with the international community to open safe routes for people who are genuinely in need of protection to come to the UK if they need to."

The former minister believes that policy flies in the face of the message of Christ. 

He continued: "The vast majority of routes are closing down, including for unaccompanied children, and is that consistent with the gospel message that says 'foreigners amongst you should be treated as your native born, love them as yourselves and don't forget, you were once foreigners in Egypt', and passages that talk about showing hospitality to strangers, because by doing so you somehow have shown hospitality to angels; or even more poignantly 'I was a stranger and you did not invite me in.'

"We are in that place where there are strangers at our door, and we are not inviting them in. 

"The gospel tells us that we should perceive those people as we perceive Christ."

However, there are some that believe that the Rwanda scheme - once it's able to be properly enforced - will be an effective deterrent to stop people smugglers illegally transporting people across the Channel via unsavoury means, to face inhospitable environments on their arrival. 

After being criticised by the Archbishop of Canterbury, former Home Secretary Priti Patel - the pilot of the scheme - doubled down on the idea, suggesting the head of the Church of England try to come up with a better alternative.

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