By the Right Revd Dr Edward Condry, Bishop of Ramsbury
We say that conscience pricks. Well, I certainly feel very uneasy when I see the plight of those stranded in Calais.
Let’s not call them “asylum seekers” or “illegal immigrants” as that just dehumanises them. These are real people with real human stories.
The majority of them in Calais have escaped from war torn Syria, and have endured great hardships in their journeys as far as the Channel.
Of course I feel uneasy when I see TV footage of young men in hoodies lit by street lamps. I can too easily imagine that they threaten my way of life.
Nevertheless, we have a long history of hospitality in this country. My own ancestors include Huguenot escapees from religious persecution in France, and Irish men and women forced to leave their country at the time of the potato famine. They found their home here.
I am not suggesting that we allow everyone and anyone to come here.
However, Jesus asked us always to greet most especially those who are not like us. Those who unsettle our consciences. It is these people who are our neighbours. These people who we should not pass by. Our “neighbours” are not simply those who live next door.
These people who are human beings made, as St Paul said, in the image of the invisible God Himself.
They deserve our compassion.
We are debating whether immigration is a threat to British values in Marlborough Town Hall at 7.00pm on 30 September. Come along.
So if we are not going to let everyone in, then surely we should at least treat all people with respect and care. Razor wire and riot police are not part of giving Christian hospitality to strangers.