On bishops, politics and Rwanda


The bishops of the Church of England have hit the headlines by writing to The Times in protest at the Government’s plan to fly asylum seekers to Rwanda for treatment.

Whether or not the first deportation flight leaves Britain today for Rwanda, this policy should shame us as a nation. Rwanda is a brave country recovering from catastrophic genocide. The shame is our own, because our Christian heritage should inspire us to treat asylum seekers with compassion, fairness and justice, as we have for centuries. Those to be deported to Rwanda have had no chance to appeal, or reunite with family in Britain. They have had no consideration of their asylum claim, recognition of their medical or other needs, or any attempt to understand their predicament.

It is worth pausing to consider what exactly is going on here. First, we need to understand what the policy is doing: not deporting failed asylum seekers, but sending those who might have a legitimate claim to asylum to Rwanda, to be processed there and, if their claim is successful, to be settled in a country with a very poor record on human rights. Rwanda has already received refugees from other areas, mostly other parts of Africa, and appears to be very well organised. But most refugees do not find employment, and so rely on benefits of £35 a month. And the country has a poor record on free speech; criticism of the Government is simply not tolerated.

Critics who flee the country have been pursued and assassinated by Rwandan agents in exile – or in the case of Paul Rusesabagina, the hotel manager who saved the lives of more than 1,000 people during the genocide and on whom the Hollywood film Hotel Rwanda was based, put on trial…and has been sentenced to 25 years in jail.

His daughter, Carine Kanimba, told the BBC it showed Rwanda had zero respect for human rights: “Rwanda is a dictatorship, there is no freedom of speech, there is no democracy. In the last election the president won the elections by 99%, which tells you this is not a democracy.

“I don’t understand why the British government would decide to send vulnerable people to a country that is known to oppress its own people.”

As the letter from the bishops notes:

Many are desperate people fleeing unspeakable horrors. Many are Iranians, Eritreans and Sudanese citizens, who have an asylum grant rate of at least 88 per cent.

So the plan is to deport people fleeing from human rights abuses, the vast majority of whom would qualify for asylum, to a country where they might well face human rights abuses.


Quite apart from the inhumanity of such an approach, the plan faces three other major obstacles. First, the Government was warned by UNHCR at an early stage that it was most likely illegal under international law. The current response to the agreed Northern Ireland protocol suggests that breaking international law is not a major concern that would deter this Government from a plan.

Secondly, it is unclear that such a policy could actually work in practice.

Having worked in Rwanda, I believe the Home Office plan will be ineffective and poor value for money. Many of the people crossing the Channel originate from Iran, Iraq and Syria. Culturally, they are unlikely to integrate into Rwandan society, which is of a predominantly Christian tradition and has different cultural values. In view of Israel’s abortive attempt at a similar plan for the resettlement of its African migrants and the closure of the Australia’s offshore processing in Papua New Guinea, it would be folly to proceed.
Dr Joseph Mullen
Former UN adviser to Rwanda

That leads to the third observation: the plan is ludicrously expensive. It is no surprised that yesterday, on Radio 4’s Today programme, Liz Truss refused to comment on how much the scheme would cost—but it is not difficult to find out. Putting people on a charter flight is likely to cost £13,000 per person; and other similar schemes have cost a small fortune.

The equivalent Australian schemes in Nauru and Papua New Guinea cost approximately £600m per year to process 300 people. A similar Australian scheme to resettle migrants in Cambodia cost around £30m to successfully resettle just two people.

I wonder what better could have been done with the £2m per person? MPs on both sides of the House have noted that it would be cheaper to put asylum seekers up in the Ritz Hotel in London. The extreme waste of money for this scheme is itself an ethical issue.

One of the criticisms of the bishops’ intervention is that they are offering no alternative plan. But noting that an action is wrong does not require that we point to the alternatives, and the idea that the Rwanda plan is the only feasible response to the problem of migrants undertaking the dangerous Channel crossing is absurd. The most obvious alternative is to work in partnership with France to establish safe routes and processing centres there.

UK officials already staff a border in France. Charities say that asylum seekers in northern France hoping to reach the UK to claim asylum should be able to register their claim with UK officials and then be placed on ferries to be brought to the UK while their claim is processed. If such a scheme was adopted it would achieve what the government has repeatedly promised to do: smash the business model of the people smugglers.

If this were implemented, then there would need to be an agreement with France to return those whose asylum applications failed—which would require considerable good will on both sides, and compensation for France.

An agreement like this offers something for everyone to like and loathe. It offers more safe and legal routes but with a returns policy and a limit on numbers many will dislike. For the government, it offers the prospect of reducing crossings, but accepting more asylum seekers from Europe, something unpopular with many of their supporters. But any solution needs more realism and compromise than our current polarised discussion allows. And the events of this week show it is needed quickly.

And here we get to a political sticking point: polarisation of discussion. Some think that, given this plan is never going to work, the whole point of it is to polarise the discussion, to divide and rule.

The Guardian think that last night’s “European ruling throws Rwanda plan into chaos”, but I am not so sure. As a source close to government thinking put it to me: “They never expected the flight to take off. The point of the exercise was to create dividing lines ahead of the next election, which is going to be fought, in part, on a manifesto pledge to leave the European Court of Human Rights and repeal the Human Rights Act.”

This takes concern about this policy to a whole new level. Ironically, Priti Patel in the House of Commons yesterday said that the plan was designed to prevent the traffickers treating migrants as ‘cargo’—but that does appear to be precisely what the Rwanda plan is doing! Worse than that, this whole issue is designed to be a political football, to be kicked about with the aim of winning a wider game.


So, it seems to me, the intervention of the bishops is a welcome attempt to humanise the whole process. We need to consider how we treat potential asylum seekers humanly—that is all that is being asked. Although the statement uses the word ‘policy’, it is really only criticising a particular plan, and makes no comment on policy issues, such as the wider question of migration and immigration policy. I don’t think there is any doubt that the bishops would share with the Government a desire to deter the traffickers and reduce dangerous crossings; why they are criticising is the inhumanity of this plan as a response to the issue.

This is, again, not a little ironic. One of the pledges of this Government, and one of the key claims in Johnson’s case for Brexit, is that we would ‘take back control’ of our borders, and not be subject to European control on this issue. I am not sure that leaving the EU has actually made any difference to our freedom or otherwise to manage immigration—in the year to March 2022, more than one million visas were issued to foreigners, the highest figure on record!

There remain several questions about the bishops’ statement. First, should church leaders make comments about political actions and policy? Politics isn’t everything, but lots of things have political implications. And if we follow Jesus as his disciples, this is inevitably going to have ‘political’ consequences. As Giles Fraser notes:

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. The 40 days of Lent, for example, are an echo of those 40 years the Israelites spent wandering in the desert, homeless. Jesus is forced to become a refugee after his birth, first fleeing to, then symbolically returning from Egypt. That’s why I think Justin Welby, along with various other senior Bishops, was quite right to draw upon the scriptures to say what they think about the Government’s new refugee policy.

But this raises a related question: should bishops be party political? A clergy friend complained online:

I understand it’s controversial and I can see why some object, but the Bishops signing a letter condemning the govts ‘Rwanda’ immigration policy yet again portrays the Church as more Guardian than Gospel and I will now have to spend time apologising to conservatives who yet again feel unwelcome in their own Church. And still they say nothing about free speech, marriage, abortion, the fundamental nature of our two sex humanity and so on. Disappointed that yet again our focus is one sided.

Is it really the case that a comment like this puts people off attending their local church? In my experience, most ordinary churchgoers take little notice of bishops’ comments! But is a criticism of this policy really an attack on Conservatism? Another friend responds:

I am in a heavily Tory area with a conservative MP as a churchwarden. I don’t think anyone in church actually thinks this was a moral thing for our nation to be doing.

And have the bishops been one-sided in their public statements? There is some mileage here. On the one hand:

The CofE responses to most social changes made by our “conservative” government has been opposition, including in same sex marriage, opposite sex civil partnerships, no fault divorce etc. London diocese spoke out against a tweet by one of their ordinands that attacked the “cult of Captain Tom” and disciplined him, in the face of much opposition.

On the other hand, it was widely noted that, in the debate about Brexit, there was only one bishop in the whole Church who expressed a view in favour, and many spoke out against Brexit. This does betray a lack of part-political balance in the College of Bishops overall, and this is significantly out of step with the views of Anglicans in the pews, 55% of whom voted for Brexit (in contrast to Catholics, who were 61% for Remain).


Part of the reluctance of bishops to speak up on political matters is the very polarisation of public discourse on these issues. Boris Johnson yesterday claimed that anyone who opposed the Rwanda scheme was supporting the trafficking across the channel. This is a ludicrous accusation, collapsing the whole series of complex issues into a simplistic ‘You are either for us, or you are for them’. This divisiveness in political discourse is deeply worrying; former Tory heavyweight Ken Clarke is worried that we are in danger of becoming an ‘elected dictatorship’ under Johnson’s defiance of any criticism, whether it is from others in the party or in the courts.

In the light of this, I am grateful for Justin’s leadership, and for the way the bishops have spoken up about this inhumane policy. I hope they will do it again.


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105 thoughts on “On bishops, politics and Rwanda”

  1. Paul Rusesabagina set up a terrorist organisation that murdered people. He deserves prison. But, perhaps those people don’t count as “human” enough for you.

    I have also looked through your post to see any reference to the working-class women (or schoolgirls, of course, in many cases) being abused by generations of asylum seekers, and couldn’t find any mention. Do they not count as humans?

    It is easy to create policy if you are willing to simply ignore a part of the population and the horrors that they face. But where does Jesus give you permission to simply ignore (or in many cases and with many bishops: hate) the people who have to live with the asylum seekers that you ensure live a long way away from you?

    Where does Jesus give you the right to imply that leave voters must be stupid racists for the Hong Kong scheme*, rather than actually must better people than you? People who wanted to “take back control” in order to offer help to the places where we are best placed to help. People concerned with the plight of the genuinely suffering rather than your disingenuous partisan attack on the decent people of this country rather that you and the Bishops still seeking revenge for your Brexit defeat.

    You are supporting people smugglers (and slandering Rwanda) because you haven’t gotten over the Brexit vote – as drips constantly from this post – where do you find that in the scriptures? Where was your “Good job, government about the Hong Kongers” post or bishop statement?

    * “I am not sure that leaving the EU has actually made any difference to our freedom or otherwise to manage immigration—in the year to March 2022, more than one million visas were issued to foreigners, the highest figure on record!”

    If you do have a post congratulating the government for its government resettlement scheme – that is you are genuinely concerned with refugees rather than Brexit – then I will not hesitate to apologise. But I have looked quite hard, and I have not found any.

    Reply
    • ‘You are supporting people smugglers’. No I am not. Why on earth do you think that? What a ridiculous argument! It is the kind of absurd reductionism that the Government is engaging in to foment division. ‘My way or the highway!’—as if there is simply no other way to address the problem.

      ‘I have also looked through your post to see any reference to the working-class women (or schoolgirls, of course, in many cases) being abused by generations of asylum seekers…’ Hang on: are you saying that, because some asylum seekers have been guilty of some offences, all those who have suffered persecution or oppression in their own countries forfeit their right, guaranteed under international law, to seek asylum?

      How very strange.

      Reply
      • As far as I can see, our elected government is trying its best to fulfill the promises it made to this country before winning a stinking great majority.

        It is only the Ian Pauls, the Bushops and the lawfarers who – unable to offer a single word a word of empathy to the raped and the abused and those who love them – that are seeking to cause division.

        Christ does not call us to badmouth the government, but to think about what is lovely. If the concern was for refugees then we would expect to see statements praising the Hong King scheme. We don’t. Instead all we see are the people who have hated Johnson – and the people who support him – since day one continuing to hate him and using refugees as an excuse.

        —-

        Oh, international law.

        If your view is that “international law” trumps the teacher in hiding, the cinema manager threatened, the schoolgirl groped and the orphan raped then do not claim that your concern is about being “humane”.

        And what statute of international precisely does the Rwanda scheme fall afoul of. It cannot be moving asylum seekers to another country – the EU does that, even moving them to ‘wicked’ Hungrary.

        And may we praise the Lord that Wilberforce did not think like you do.

        Reply
          • There is still no empathy for the raped and abused. And I have not accused you and the bishops haven’t accused the government of. If my argument is Ad Hom – although it isn’t –

            The Bible calls us to love our neighbour. Who is our neighbour? Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan. Jesus would have included the Hong Kongers and the English girl orphans. You – and the Bishops – seem to prefer Gary Lineker’s Twitter feed. You will love the “least”, only as long as it is a popular enough “least”, but that’s not the “least” at all. That’s just a way to produce division.

            When Jesus comes do you think he will be indifferent to the grooming gangs and the modern-day slavery that you support with your rhetoric, and were enabled by the politicians you continue to support, the party you support, the positions you support, and the government you supported? I don’t think He will be indifferent.

            I am not a Pharisee. Nor am I the son of a Pharisee. No doubt, you are more effective at arguing than I am. But, when judgment day comes, you will not be arguing with Jesus about the grooming gangs. You will be hiding under a rock. Will the apathy upon orphans that lead to their mass rape and abuse not play upon your conscience at all?

    • What about the women and school girls abused by Tory mayors?
      Don’t fit quite so easily into the racist narrative about dark-skinnned men endangering *our* white women?

      Reply
  2. I beg to differ. As Michael Nazir-Ali pointed out in yesterday’s Telegraph, the first obligation of a government is to its own people, and granting a million visas annually to persons from an alien culture (we share the historic mix of Athens and Jerusalem with Europe but not with anywhere else) is a recipe for civil unrest and perhaps worse – especially when that culture has a sacred book which commands takeover by force wherever its message is not accepted voluntarily. The appropriate precedent is in the Law of Moses: if you want to live in ancient Israel, you are welcome provided that you wish to live like an Israelite.

    I cannot find any mention in the essay above that these people are coming in from France, not Iraq or Libya or wherever. I am not aware that there is widespread persecution and government-sponsored terror in France. The vast bulk of them are taking us for a ride: they want our social security benefits and nothing else. I for one am sick of it, and I welcome the Rwanda scheme and deplore Justin Welby’s ill-thought-out comments. When he has set his own house – the Church of England – in order, he might be in a position to lecture others. As it is, he is driving it farther into the ground, and the robust response of the African archbishops who are boycotting next month’s Lambeth conference over his two-faced policy on sexuality was a welcome relief to read:

    https://anglican.ink/2022/06/13/african-archbishops-chide-welby-for-virtue-signaling-and-with-condoning-evil-by-hiding-behind-endless-prayer-and-discussion/

    Whereas the vulnerable who seek asylum are mostly women, the elderly and children, who are penniless, the present set of asylum seekers are mostly young men who can afford the fees demanded by professional people smugglers. Send them all to Rwanda so far as I am concerned; the place is an economic success at present. The cost of the scheme will be small once the deterrent effect kicks in (or we could always reduce our benefits below France’s). As for the ECHR, let us withdraw from it. This country developed the notion of freedom under the law a century before the French Revolution began banging on about rights while enacting terror.

    Reply
    • ‘granting a million visas annually to persons from an alien culture (we share the historic mix of Athens and Jerusalem with Europe but not with anywhere else) is a recipe for civil unrest’

      Possibly. In which case you had better take that up with the Government. It has nothing to do with this inhumane plan to fly people, the vast majority of whom will have legitimate claim to asylum, to Rwanda.

      ‘The appropriate precedent is in the Law of Moses: if you want to live in ancient Israel, you are welcome provided that you wish to live like an Israelite.’ Indeed. And all those granted asylum must abide by UK law.

      Reply
      • What makes you think I don’t take it up with the government as well? And how do you know that they have legitimate claim to asylum? I suspect that most of them are lying in their teeth as they certianly have the motive. They are largely young men who can afford the large fes demanded by people smugglers. They are queue jumpers and we have no moral obligation to them. The Rwanda scheme is an excellent deterrent.

        It is well to say that they must abide by UK law but ther is more to it than that. We have a right to expect them to integrate. How is that working out among older generations of migrants from that culture?

        Have you read Michael Nazir-Ali in yesterday’s Telegraph on the subject, please?

        https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2022/06/14/not-churches-job-demonise-politicians-migration-policy/

        Reply
    • ‘I cannot find any mention in the essay above that these people are coming in from France’. No, they are coming through France. I don’t know if you have noticed, but we don’t have a border with Iran.

      In law, they have the right to seek asylum, and the primary reason they seek to come here is that they often speak English (not French), and they might have relations here. So this is a natural destination. They are seeking asylum from their homeland, not ‘from’ France.

      Reply
      • In law, they have the right to seek asylum, and the primary reason they seek to come here is that they often speak English (not French), and they might have relations here. So this is a natural destination.

        In law they have a right to seek asylum, and we have a moral duty to get them to a place of safety.

        But that place of safety doesn’t have to be where they would prefer to be. I mean I’d quite like to live in the Bahamas, but none of us on this planet Earth have a right to get to live exactly where we want.

        I note that the Good Samaritan, when he found a traveller beaten and in an unsafe place, didn’t invite the traveller to live with him. He took the traveller to a place of safety; and he paid for the man’s accommodation, treatment and expenses until he was back on his feet.

        Is that not what the government is planning to do? Take those who have been injured and in unsafe circumstances to a place of safety (to whit, Rewanda), and pay for their accommodation, treatment and expenses until they are back on their feet?

        It’s a bit weird for a Christian to be laying into the government for behaving exactly like the Good Samaritan.

        Reply
  3. On the face of things I do not like the idea of sending asylum speakers to another country. If what you say about Rwanda is correct then it is wrong.

    On the other hand the refugee influx requires some control, especially if they are economic migrants.

    I’d be more impressed if these same bishops also spoke out on woke issues, freedom of speech, and didn’t promote LGBT issues in the church.

    Reply
    • Rwanda is booming and it will be not less worse than the places they claim to have left. If this policy is enacted then very few will try it on so the numbers will be small; it’s called the deterrent effect.

      Reply
  4. Quote from the bishops’ letter:

    ‘The shame is our own, because our Christian heritage should inspire us to treat asylum seekers with compassion, fairness and justice, as we have for centuries.’

    Fascinating: the appeal to the crumbling past; which they, themselves, have contributed to.

    Reply
  5. I agree. Those opposed to the Rwanda scheme do not know what central Africa is like. Rwanda has improved immensely since the massacre of Tutsis in 1994. While we were in Africa a leading godly Bishop in Rwanda was a tutsi from Zaire.

    These immigrants are illegal. Does the C of E condone breaking the law? The English Bishops certainly condone breaking God’s Word.

    Reply
      • We give asylum very liberally to avoid sending back any that would have a good case. This means that 12% of the people that you support are nearly-certainly fraudulent. That is thousands of people. That is not a small number.

        And what is the acceptance rate of those who come by dinghies (and the other disputed asylum seekers*)? Is it greater or is it less?

        * To have Hong Kongers – and other non-divisive cases – bring up the acceptance rate would make repeating the headline rate nearly dishonest.

        Reply
  6. there would need to be an agreement with France to return those whose asylum applications failed—which would require considerable good will on both sides, and compensation for France.

    That’s only half the problem, though’s a big half. Once they have left French soil, France has zero incentive to allow them back and very strong incentives not to (because after all, France is in exactly the same position as Britain with people turning up at a far greater rate than they can possibly be integrated). I find it hard to imagine any price which Britain could reasonably pay which would be enough to overcome this, and nowhere have I ever seen one suggested (I note the author of the article doesn’t suggest one).

    The other half of the problem is that whatever sage and legal route you provide for those with genuine reasons to claim asylum, the more successful it is in processing them, the more incentive that gives those who do not have such genuine reasons to bypass it. However convenient the legal route, if someone knows that they are going to be found out to be fraudulent in their claims when they take it and either returned to France or not allowed to leave France, they aren’t going to even bother trying the legal route, are they? They’re going to get in a dinghy just like they do now. Because they know that once they set foot on British soil it is next to impossible to deport them, whatever the merits of their claim.

    So the ‘safe and legal routes’ plan is, as far as I can see, a nonstarter. It would require us to pay a bribe to France large enough to make France act directly counter to its own interests; even if such a huge price could be found it seems unlikely we could afford to pay it. And it wouldn’t actually solve the problem as it wouldn’t stop people who know they have no valid claim to asylum from attempting the dangerous channel crossing.

    Reply
    • ‘The other half of the problem is that whatever sage and legal route you provide for those with genuine reasons to claim asylum, the more successful it is in processing them, the more incentive that gives those who do not have such genuine reasons to bypass it.’

      Except that the stats show that 88% of those taking the perilous journey across the channel are indeed eligible for asylum. So a safe route would solve nearly 90% of the current problem.

      Reply
      • Except that the stats show that 88% of those taking the perilous journey across the channel are indeed eligible for asylum.

        Source?

        Reply
          • And even then, supposing they are telling the truth when they have every incentive to lie.

            Let’s wait until we have the source before we critique the methodology.

  7. Many of the people crossing the Channel originate from Iran, Iraq and Syria. Culturally, they are unlikely to integrate into Rwandan society, which is of a predominantly Christian tradition and has different cultural values.

    But they are likely to integrate in Britain? Which, um, also is of a predominantly Christian tradition and has different cultural values? Did he even read over that letter before he sent it?

    Reply
  8. First, the Government was warned by UNHCR at an early stage that it was most likely illegal under international law. The current response to the agreed Northern Ireland protocol suggests that breaking international law is not a major concern that would deter this Government from a plan.

    What should the Christian attitude to ‘international law’ be? Given that ‘international law’ is not at all the same thing as the laws passed by Parliament (there’s no ‘international parliament’ to make laws, there are no ‘international courts’ to enforce them), but is rather just a set of treaties that sovereign nations have agreed between themselves voluntarily to abide by.

    It’s basically like contract law, but between states rather than companies (and with the rather significant difference that there are no courts which can enforce the contracts against unwilling participants); so is there a specific Christian approach to contract law we should be applying?

    Reply
    • There is no such thing as international law. There are only treaties and documents signed by leaders of sovereign countries. In proper law there are means of enforcement via a police force. Where are the means of enforcement of international law?

      Reply
      • There is no such thing as international law. There are only treaties and documents signed by leaders of sovereign countries.

        Well, I mean, there is such a thing: you’ve just there identified what it is.

        Now you can definitely point out that it’s not ‘law’, is the same way that a sea horse isn’t a horse. But it does exist, just like sea horses exist, and it does look a bit like law, just like sea horses look a bit like horses.

        But indeed it is — as I think I pointed out — more like a system of voluntary unenforceable contracts, than law.

        So presumably the Christian approach would be to point out that one ought to keep one’s word so, all things being equal, one ought not to renege on agreements one has voluntarily entered into. But circumstances change, agreements may no longer be as relevant as they were, other parties to them may act in bad faith, there can be disputes over whether an entity is the same one that made the agreement, or they might just outlive their usefulness. And of course Parliament cannot bind its successors.

        So treaties can’t be regarded as permanent. So is there any specifically Christian approach to this domain?

        Reply
          • My definition of law is a code which has a means of enforcement, and I contend for this definition.

            Which is a fair enough definition and if you’d said ‘international law isn’t really law’ I wouldn’t have argued (I considered writing it myself, but decided to be a bit more long-winded).

            But it clearly exists, even if, as you contend and I would probably, if put on the spot, agree, it is misnamed.

            Remember that language does not define reality! Calling something ‘law’ does not make it so, and if something has a misleadingly inaccurate name that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, it just means it has a misleading name!

          • Agreed, but I perceive an agenda among those who are fond of the phrase, and it is not one I sympathise with. Ditto with ‘human rights’, which are not the reason why people should treat each other well. If they exist then God is the greatest human rights violator of all time. Who dare charge Him with that? Call them ‘sinners’ rights’ and you begin to see the problem.

      • No human laws are chiselled from the granite of eternal truth. They are simply the opinions of some (not necessarily all) of those who happened to have the power to write laws at one particular time. At best they can be wise and just; at worst foolish and abusive. Appeal to law can only clinch an argument in the minds of people who happen to agree with what a law says – it’s a circular argument.

        Reply
        • No human laws are chiselled from the granite of eternal truth.

          True, but as Christians we ought to obey the laws of those God has placed in legitimate authority over us: Romans 13.

          This doesn’t apply to ‘international law’ of course as there are no legitimate supernational legislative bodies.

          Reply
          • ‘True, but as Christians we ought to obey the laws of those God has placed in legitimate authority over us: Romans 13.’

            Yes, but in a democracy it is we, the people, who are sovereign and we only lend (for a limited period) our authority to a parliament which then enacts laws on our behalf. The term ‘parliamentary sovereignty’ refers purely to process and not ownership! We are essentially called to obey our own laws. And we Christians can assume that God will understand that arrangement, and it is certainly our duty to obey the laws our parliament enacts, save where our consciences prevent us from doing so – whereupon we have to bare the consequences of our refusal to comply.

            But of course we do have the democratic opportunity (duty even) to make our views known to our parliamentary representatives between elections, and so have some limited effect on what is passed into law. We should therefore welcome free and open debate even when some of the views expressed are painful to hear (as is the case for this piece from Ian today)!

            I think the issue here is not what Ian has said (I simply disagree) but whether and how Christians in various positions of leadership or as teachers should loudly proclaim their political views from a Christian platform. In the case of Welby, he frequently and unwisely speaks from a position of great privilege and little understanding (his call for everyone to be vaccinated for Covid-19 was pure establishment manipulation and directly opposed to long standing medical ethics). In so doing he regularly alienates a large proportion of his church members (as well as potential members) and diverts attention away from the eternal truths of the gospel which far outweigh in importance our temporary earthly issues.

          • ‘No human laws are chiselled from the granite of eternal truth.

            ‘True,

            False.

            Archbishop Stephen Langton (Magna Carta).

            Rex Lex, the great Scottish reformer, Samuel Rutherford.

            ‘The King is under no man but God and the law.’

            Chief Justice Sir Edward Coke

            ‘Who is my neighbour?’ Lord Atkins, Donoghue v Stevenson (1932).

          • ‘True, but as Christians we ought to obey the laws of those God has placed in legitimate authority over us: Romans 13.’

            ‘Legitimate’?

            All authority is ‘legitimate’. God’s rule is not only de jure, it is also de facto. (Got that Psephizo?)

            The key question is: Caesar or Chirst?

            Lex Rex? or;

            Rex Lex?

            It was over that question that your forefathers fought a bloody civil war.

            And you still did not learn by 1776.

          • Sir

            ‘Kings do not make law; they are accountable to it.’

            Now look here, Psephizo, ‘Why don’t you get with the program son?’ (‘Full Metal Jacket’).

            Ain’t you a ‘progressive’?

            King Charles I

            Stalin

            Mao

            Adolf Hitler

            Ain’t you out of your time?

            ‘The King (the State) is under no man but God and the law.’

            Chief Justice Sir Edward Coke

          • Kings do not make law; they are accountable to it.

            They most certainly do make law! The tax code is an important part of the law, right? Well, I hope you’re not going to claim there is some natural law principle that computer software should be subject to VAT but books should not. So that’s an example, amongst many such (and immigration rules are among them) of a law made by a King (well, a monarch; specifically the Crown-in-Parliament).

            They are also accountable to a higher power, for their actions and for the laws they make. There is such a thing as natural law. But it’s wrong to say they don’t make laws, or that, as Christians, we ought to subject to such laws as are made by a legitimate authority that don’t require us to act unethically.

          • But it’s wrong to say they don’t make laws, or that, as Christians, we ought to subject to such laws as are made by a legitimate authority that don’t require us to act unethically.

            Sense of that last bit got reversed in the edit but you know what I mean.

    • Im pretty sure I heard the head of the Supreme Court say recently that domestic law trumped international law/agreements. But I may be wrong.

      Im no expert, but the impression I get is that most international law is pretty good, and should be followed if possible.

      Reply
      • Im pretty sure I heard the head of the Supreme Court say recently that domestic law trumped international law/agreements. But I may be wrong.

        What you are probably remembering is that only what the Crown-in-Parliament enacts is actually law in the UK. The UK signing a treaty does not in itself change the law of the land or create any enforceable law. This is why, for example, when the UK joined the EEC (as it was then) it had to pass the European Communities Act 1972, and when the EU made new directives Westminster had to pass laws to give them effect in the UK; and how our leaving the EU was effected by the repeal of the 1972 Act (as decided by the Supreme Court in Miller 1).

        Im no expert, but the impression I get is that most international law is pretty good, and should be followed if possible.

        Where on Earth did you get that impression? And what bizarre definition of ‘good’ are you using there?

        Reply
  9. “Priti Patel in the House of Commons yesterday said that the plan was designed to prevent the traffickers treating migrants as ‘cargo’—but that does appear to be precisely what the Rwanda plan is doing!”

    I found myself shouting this at the TV. The irony is inescapable. What comes across is not the desire to solve anything but to be ” bold” in the public eye.

    Of course there’s a migration issue but it covers a huge section of the world now with numbers unthought of when the “apply in the first safe country you arrive at” made sense. A multi nation response is the only way forward where every country takes some responsibility. It’s not enough, as a Christian, to say that only the UK is our priority.

    I find this government increasingly without any decency in so many of its actions.. though many things do not get beyond “words”.

    Were the bishops right to speak out?

    Yes, I’d want them to speak out over other issues (mentioned above) but how much do they agree on?… Are they hiding their actual views from the church?…. Is it moral cowardice?. And what happens when they are assumed to be speaking for all Anglicans (and I’m shouting “not for me” at the tv again).

    But speaking out is part of the maintenance of a free society… Whether anyone agrees or not. This government doesn’t like challenge and that’s a deep rot at the heart of democracy. I’ve never been so dismayed and angered by any UK government in my life time. With apologies to Adrian Mole… Yours sincerely, Ian (aged 72 and a quarter)

    Reply
    • Ther are severasl billion people who would prefer to live in Europe and nowadays they can take trains and boats and planes to get here, but if you let them all in it will cease to be Europe… how many and why?

      Reply
      • Why will it cease to be Europe?
        Europe has changed over the centuries with invasions and expulsions and waves of immigration. It is still in flux.
        What I suspect you mean (and would be delighted to be wrong) is that Europe would no longer be predominantly white. That it was ever thus is a myth, and a racist myth at that.

        Reply
        • Why will it cease to be Europe?

          Because Europe is a continent dominated by democracies with their historical roots on Christian values. Most of the newcomers come from places which are not democracies and where there is no historical tradition of Christian values.

          ‘Cease to be Europe’ is a bit of a melodramatic way of putting it, but it’s certainly true that Europe, while not ceasing to exist, could be changed beyond recognition if enough people come from cultures with such radically different histories, fast enoguh that rather than integrating into European culture they instead transform European culture to be more like that culture of the places they came from.

          And frankly Europe is massively better than the places they came from (that, after all, is why they want to leave those places and come to Europe) so it would be a shame if Europe were to change to be more like those inferior places.

          What I suspect you mean (and would be delighted to be wrong) is that Europe would no longer be predominantly white.

          It’s got nothing to do with the colour of anyone’s skin.

          Reply
        • I couldn’t care less what colour people’s skin is. I care what culture they are committed to. Someone who calls me racist because there happens to be a correlation (not causation!) between skin tone and culture is indulging in weak argumentation and is arguably himself (or herself) being racist.

          Reply
          • Someone who calls me racist because there happens to be a correlation (not causation!) between skin tone and culture is indulging in weak argumentation

            I would deny even that there’s correlation. Remember that the second-worst culture in the history of the word (Nazism) was invented by people with paler-than-average skin, as indeed was the worst culture in world history (Communism).

  10. Let’s not misrepresent plain language here. You must have seen the degrading and reckless cramming of people, like cattle, into dangerously unstable dinghies for their illegal channel crossings? I think the ‘cargo’ comment rather obviously refers to that disgusting process. Whatever you think of the policy, it is worlds apart from a safe passage in a modern jet aeroplane to Rwanda.

    Reply
    • I’d agree in part.. But only in part.

      I think the commonality is that, in both cases, people are being appallingly treated as if they were no more than baggage. They are not failed asylum seekers. 75-80+% would be likely to be allowed to stay… If the government systems were not “failing” . I don’t think the government wants them to succeed, irrespective of any case they might have.

      Safe passage in an aeroplane? The “comfort” surely does not up-value the mistreatment.

      Reply
          • So one of “our” primary cultural values is not “welcoming the stranger” but “not jumping the queue”?

            Why not both?

          • _primary_ cultural values. If ‘They are queue jumpers’ is justification for mistreating people then we need to take a look at ourselves.

          • If ‘They are queue jumpers’ is justification for mistreating people then we need to take a look at ourselves.

            But nobody’s being mistreated. Being provided with accommodation, treatment and a new life in a safe country is not ‘mistreatment’ by any definition of the word.

  11. I’m not all that supportive of the Rwandan system on this, but while I don’t mind Bishops speaking up on political matters, the response of the Bishops, many Christians, and many Church Representatives is uniformly one of pure welcome to the immigrants, and I think that is wrong. As Christians we feel compelled to care for those in very difficult circumstances, but we might be forgetting that the image of a cold dishevelled migrant stepping out of a flimsy boat on a beach near Dover is only a tiny fragment of the whole picture. Our country does not have, and is clearly struggling to implement, comprehensively capacious health care, social services, and education. To accept a lot of immigrants puts this under more strain and takes the provision away from existing citizens. There really do have to be limits. The very thing these migrants are seeking will cease to exist here. Should ‘The Church’ not also speak up for the needs of existing citizens ?

    People often respond to that kind of argument by saying that the immigrants include many good doctors, teachers, etc., and also people who could easily be economically productive and thereby contribute to the tax-costs which must be found for the required services. I would counter that by asking whether countries like Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, and Syria also need Doctors, Teachers and economically productive people ? Isn’t it a bit immoral bringing them here when those benighted countries need all the talent they can get ?

    (On the Brexit and ‘control’ point, incidentally, whether the above argument is right or not, the idea was to control not just numbers but what sort of people come here. The large number of visas may have been issued for people with known talents.)

    There is much use of the word ‘inhumane’ as if it is only our government’s policy which is inhumane. The inhumanity starts with actions of evil people in the countries from which the migrants come. It continues with the treatment of the migrants on their travels through myriad countries before they get to Calais. The mistreatment comes from the people smugglers, the people living on the routes they are taking, and happens by one migrant on another. To be factual, what happens once they are in UK is probably the most humane part of the whole story, the Government will inevitably be very careful about arrangements anywhere, for fear of bad press, or worse.

    I’d like to pick up on a few quotes from the article :

    The Bishops’ letter says : “Those to be deported to Rwanda have had no chance to appeal, or reunite with family in Britain. They have had no consideration of their asylum claim, recognition of their medical or other needs, or any attempt to understand their predicament.” – Is this true ? I doubt it. I would expect the government to be very careful to only send to Rwanda those people who are least likely to have obvious ‘special needs’, firstly because someone with, for example, a medical condition, would likely find the sort of legal support to reverse the decision, and secondly because it would be opening itself up to bad press.

    And : “Culturally, they are unlikely to integrate into Rwandan society, which is of a predominantly Christian tradition and has different cultural values.” – So why are they any more likely to integrate here in UK ? Is the Christian Gospel not to be asserted ? This statement beggars belief !

    If it really costs £13,000 per person to fly them to central Africa, that can’t be the flight cost itself, can it ? A business class ticket to Johannesburg is a lot less. The costs must arise around the flight, not from the flight itself.

    “The most obvious alternative is to work in partnership with France to establish safe routes and processing centres there.” “there would need to be an agreement with France to return those whose asylum applications failed—which would require considerable good will on both sides, and compensation for France.” – Many different UK Governments have tried to get France to do what it should at Calais, but the French are very clever and have repeatedly demonstrated bad faith in this area. Compensation is available for French costs, but they still fail to act.

    So I DO feel that my relatively conservative views are not welcome in the Church of England at one level, but I find many in my congregation who are more aligned with me than they are with those Bishops. I’m not much bothered because I believe that the real understanding of the message of Jesus is somewhat bigger than these arguments and lies in our hearts and what we attempt in our own lives, not in what we can admonish other people to pay for and other people to cope with.

    Reply
    • Yes, the parable of the good samaritan is about individuals and cannot be extended to nations. The bishops are doing their utmost to argue on the basis that the UK has a responsibility or duty to let in millions at a historically unprecedented rate, without ever quite phrasing it like that, because they know and we know that we have no such duty.

      Reply
  12. After looking at a map, I have to say it’s a hell of a long way to travel from Sudan to the Uk if safety is really the key reason for leaving Sudan and other places. They would have had to travel all the way through various North African countries, and then into Spain, Italy or Greece, and eventually to northern France.

    I have mixed feelings about this whole issue, but is it really acceptable to use speaking some English as the main reason for insisting on making a life in the UK, when they could have sought asylum in any one of the many countries they passed through, at least in Europe, and lived in safety? I could understand it more if some individuals had genuine close family relatives already living in the UK (as in parents/children or possibly brothers/sisters).

    Just my thoughts on a complicated issue.

    Peter

    Reply
    • I have mixed feelings about this whole issue, but is it really acceptable to use speaking some English as the main reason for insisting on making a life in the UK, when they could have sought asylum in any one of the many countries they passed through, at least in Europe, and lived in safety?

      You must remember that no one in any of those European countries speaks any English whatsoever. Turn up in any European country speaking only English and you have no chance of making yourself understood to anyone — and no one will help you learn. It’s why British people are famous for never ever going to live or retire in other European countries unless they are already completely fluent in the local language.

      Reply
      • Because the civil service is woke and because government has a tacit policy of letting in people to pay for the pensions of the elderly. But if you let so many people in that the culture changes radically underfoot during one lifetime, you are asking for trouble. Especially when we have NEVER had an election dominated by this issue or a referendum on it.

        Why do they take risks to get here? Our hospitals and social services, mainly.

        Reply
      • If it is unimportant, why do they take such risks to get here?

        Speculating, because they have been told that while in other countries if you apply for asylum and are rejecting you might get deported, once your feet touch British soil (or you get picked up by the Royal Navy) you are basically guaranteed to be granted residency in the UK for life. That prize certainly make it worth the risk.

        And how come 88% are granted asylum?

        Source?

        Reply
  13. S

    I don’t think you are right here. Many people in many European countries speak English. As tourists abroad we were always amazed at how well Europeans in many countries spoke English. It was the language of communication between different Europeans.

    Reply
    • I don’t think you are right here. Many people in many European countries speak English. As tourists abroad we were always amazed at how well Europeans in many countries spoke English. It was the language of communication between different Europeans.

      Really? Wow. That’s truly amazing.

      Reply
  14. On the one hand it is an opportunity for the Good News of Jesus; on the other hand the same Bishop really don’t demonstrate that they know what it is, where or how to find and proclaim it.
    It is more likely that pluralism will be even more pervasive and an ever more admixture in the church; a dilution to tincture proportions, rather than distilation to salt and light, even while the secular sovereignty of self sidles away from personal responsiblity.
    A couple at church have taken in a mother and sin from Ukraine and brought them to church. Mother can’t speak English. Teen son can and was brought into the agee group for teaching/worship. The mother seemed both overwhelmed and bewildered, Russian speaking, greiving separation from her husband, who phones x3 a day.
    This whole Bishop’s stimulated discussion is a far cry and a different cry.
    At the funeral I attended this week of a non stipe Anglican minister who was converted as a 39 year old businessman there were many eulogies but these words pervaded; loving generous, kind, always welcoming, family man and for those who were aware, the testimony of a converted, former prostitute, was weighty.
    And while there were hyms old and new, with organ and other musicians, including, To God be the Glory, a short hymn, sung devotionally, said to be at the root of his life and ministry was; He is Lord, he is Lord, he has risen from the dead and he is Lord, every knee shall bow every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
    Would that the Bishops would be so Biblical. As guardians of the Christian doctrine of the way, the truth, the life itself.

    Reply
  15. “ As the letter from the bishops notes:

    “Many are desperate people fleeing unspeakable horrors.””

    What, in France?

    Reply
    • No, in their homes. The UK is their destination, not France, since they often speak English but not French, and have relations here. Contrary to popular belief, there is no requirement for asylum seekers to seek asylum in prior countries.

      Reply
      • “there is no requirement for asylum seekers to seek asylum in prior countries”

        I know. But if how desperate can someone be if they refuse to seek asylum in France? If I was dying of thirst I wouldn’t reject a bottle of water and insist on a glass of Perrier with ice and lemon.

        France is a safe county. These people are shopping around like fussy consumers.

        Reply
      • Contrary to popular belief, there is no requirement for asylum seekers to seek asylum in prior countries.

        But are you arguing that there is a requirement for their preferred country of choice to accommodate them?

        Surely this is like applying to university. You are free to express a preference as to which country you would like to be accommodated in. But the important thing is that you end up somewhere safe, not that you get your first preference. You might have to settle for your back-up country, or even go through clearing. But the important thing is that you end up somewhere safe, not that you get your first preference of country.

        Reply
      • That may not be a legal requirement, but it seems to me to be a very strange situation that someone is fleeing their war-torn home, but refuse to claim asylum in a perfectly safe country much closer to their home and culture. Makes one wonder if they really are fleeing genuine danger.

        And if the vast majority of claimants are granted asylum, why are so many attempting to enter the UK illegally?

        Reply
        • That may not be a legal requirement, but it seems to me to be a very strange situation that someone is fleeing their war-torn home, but refuse to claim asylum in a perfectly safe country much closer to their home and culture. Makes one wonder if they really are fleeing genuine danger.

          It also occurs to me that assuming they are fleeing genuine danger, and assuming that the reason they want to settle in the UK really is that the have connections (friends and family) here, then that implies that the reason they have friends and family here is that they probably previously came to the UK fleeing the same danger.

          And if they are allowed to stay in the UK then their friends and family will want to settle in the UK as well.

          So this sets up a feedback loop whereby countries that are generous and welcoming are punished by finding more and more people wanting to settle there rather than anywhere else — an ever-widening circle of contacts of contacts of contacts of contacts — while those countries which are least generous and do their best to shive refugees across their territory and onto the next country without allowing them to settle get the benefits, as people will stop wanting to settle there because their friends and family weren’t allowed to, so they will be eager to cross the country without settling.

          In other words, countries which do the right thing are penalised and countries which act ungenerously reap the rewards.

          Now I know one doesn’t do the right thing because one expects a reward but because it is the right thing, but this seems a particularly perverse dunamic, and one we should probably try not to exacerbate. Right?

          Reply
  16. Ian, I don’t know if you realised what a hornets’ nest you were kicking in your post, but I suspect it already required some courage to post it. You have responded with courtesy, firmness and grace, and I salute you.

    Reply
    • Seconded.

      Bullies always pick on the weak and vulnerable. The Rwanda ‘renditions’ are a sick political gimmick.

      In the Scottish Highlands we know too well from our own history the way people were herded onto ships in their hundreds of thousands, and sent away as powerless cargo in the Clearances.

      All of us know, too, the powerless cargo which to our shame was shipped from African regions to the ‘New World’.

      Tens of thousands of Ukrainians, even these past few months, have been ‘processed’ and sent unwillingly to an invader country against their will. More powerless cargo.

      To be sure, there can be discussion on the subject of human migration and its scale (which may increase in the coming year if food supply falters and people face starvation).

      That’s an issue worth discussing.

      But I agree with Iain that this Rwanda gimmick is unscrupulous: sending people, against their will, to a country where they have no roots, no family. It’s basically rendition.

      You don’t have to support everything the Bishops do, to recognise that this ruthlessly cynical political gimmick is cruel, dishonours the UK, and is simply the vote-catching ploy of a government looking for simplistic soundbites… on this very specific issue, I believe the Bishops have been right to call it out.

      It’s bullies picking on the weak. If we champion actions like these, what are we becoming? Would YOU want YOUR relative, or wife, or children, to be renditioned in this way? If, as Christians, we oppose mass migration… that is one thing. But, as Christians, at the very basic we need our actions to be humane. All humans are humans. Precious, precious people, made in the image of God, and precious to God.

      Sometimes it is ‘political’ to stay silent.

      Reply
      • But I agree with Iain that this Rwanda gimmick is unscrupulous: sending people, against their will, to a country where they have no roots, no family. It’s basically rendition.

        Except it’s the opposite of rendition, isn’t it? Extraordinary rendition is sending people abroad in order to torture them, when torturing them wouldn’t be allowed in their own country.

        But these people are coming from countries where they would be tortured, and are being sent to Rwanda specifically because they will be safe there and will not be tortured.

        So extraordinary rendition: sending someone from a country where they cannot legally be tortured to one where they can in order to torture them.

        This plan: sending people fleeing countries where they can be and quite possibly without be tortured, to a country where they will be safe from torture.

        The exact opposite, see?

        Reply
        • Rendition (in legal terms) means handing over people or property from one jurisdiction to another.

          “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” etc.

          I did not mention torture, and you yourself introduced ‘extraordinary rendition’ which is a specific term. You used it. I didn’t. Um… straw man (or woman)?

          The key point is that they are being forcibly sent to a country where they have no connections and where they do not wish to go.

          If you can’t see the inhumanity in that, S, I leave it to you.

          Reply
          • Rendition (in legal terms) means handing over people or property from one jurisdiction to another.

            Ah, so including extradition of criminals, deportation of illegal immigrants, etc?

            In that case there’s nothing in principle wrong with rendition, is there? After all there’s nothing in principle wrong with extraditing criminals or

            So to compare something to ‘rendition’ is not to make any kind of moral statement about it. Some kinds of rendition (eg, extraordinary rendition) are morally odious. Some (eg extraditing criminals, deporting illegal immigrants) are morally neutral or indeed morally good.

            So you’re saying we can discount your comparison of this plan to ‘rendition’ as having any valid contribution to the moral debate, correct?

            It would be like saying of detaining someone, ‘this is equivalent to imprisonment’. Which is true, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad, because sometime imprisoning someone is bad and sometimes imprisoning someone is good.

            Similarly sometimes rendering someone is bad and sometimes rendering someone is good. So merely being ‘equivalent to rendition’ doesn’t in itself tell us anything about whether something is bad or good.

            The key point is that they are being forcibly sent to a country where they have no connections and where they do not wish to go.

            If you can’t see the inhumanity in that, S, I leave it to you.

            I actually can’t see the inhumanity in it, no. Perhaps you could explain?

            These people have fled countries where they are unsafe; they are being settled, at great expense to us, in a country where they will be safe. Just like the Good Samaritan took the injured travelled to a place of safety and paid out of his own pocket for the traveller’s accommodation, treatment and expenses.

            I honestly can’t see what’s inhumane about that. Indeed it seems very humane to me. We are helping these people who, through no fault of their own, have found themselves in danger; and we are, at no cost to them, and at great expense to us, paying for them to be accommodated in a country where they will be safe and well-treated, and where they can remain until such time as it is safe for them to go back home.

            I am honestly failing to see any inhumanity in that.

            (The fact they ‘do not wish to go there’ is irrelevant. Nobody has any kind of right to only go where they wish to go. I wish I could live in the Bahamas but that doesn’t give me any kind of right to live there. Indeed these people, if they are genuine refugees, cannot live in the place where they really wish to live, ie, their home, because not being able to live in their home when they wish to live there is what makes them refugees (if they actually wish to live in the UK rather than their home that makes them economic migrants, not refugees, and we have no moral duty to take them in). So by definition anywhere they go is somewhere they do not wish to go, and we are not the ones who forced them to go somewhere they do not wish to go: that was whoever created the situation in their home, which is where they wish to live, that forced them to leave.)

          • “Similarly sometimes rendering someone is bad and sometimes rendering someone is good.”

            I’m agreeing with the bishops that ‘this time’ – in the Rwanda case – it’s bad. The letter is very specific. It’s not about wider immigration policy. It’s about this cruel political gimmick. I’ve already explained why I find it ‘odious’ (to coin a phrase).

            This Rwanda initiative is pure political theatre and a stunt. It is hoped it will shore up support for Boris and win him a future election, and from the Home Secretary’s point of view, she’s developed the gimmick in the hope that it will boost her support in any future conservative leadership contest.

            “Nobody has any kind of right to only go where they wish to go…”

            Please may I send you to Antarctica? 🙂

          • I’m agreeing with the bishops that ‘this time’ – in the Rwanda case – it’s bad.

            Then make that case! But what you can’t do is what you did: write ‘It’s basically rendition’ as if that on its own were any kind of argument that it is bad. Because as you now admit, there are good renditions and bad renditions. So something being ‘basically rendition’ doesn’t add to the argument at all.

            It’s about this cruel political gimmick. I’ve already explained why I find it ‘odious’ (to coin a phrase).

            You haven’t, though, at least not with any valid arguments. You’ve already accepted that ‘it’s basically rendition’ isn’t an argument. For the same reasons ‘political’ and ‘gimmick’ aren’t arguments (everything in this area is ‘political’, good and bad, so being ‘political’ doesn’t necessarily mean something is bad; and there are good and bad gimmicks so again someting being a ‘gimmick’ doesn’t necessaarily mean it’s bad.)

            Of course if it were cruel then that would mean it was bad. But you so far haven’t produced any kind of valid argument that it is in fact cruel.

            Please may I send you to Antarctica?

            They have the inter-net down there now, you know.

          • “So something being ‘basically rendition’ doesn’t add to the argument at all.”

            I think it did. Clearly from a purely logical aspect, you are correct. I concede the point. However, I wasn’t deploying the expression “basically rendition” for logical ends. ‘Rendition’ has connotations, as you well know (as you yourself immediately started talking about ‘extraordinary rendition’)… and I deployed the term for emotive impact.

            Arguments in the public forum are not won purely by logic.

            My bad.

            On “political gimmicks”, everyone knows what political gimmicks are, and again I chose the words for impact, with the insinuation that the gimmick was bad.

            Time is short, so I won’t start expanding reasons for despising this cynical rendition of human beings here. I’ve made clear, like the bishops, that I think that’s wrong. Whether you agree or not is a matter of personal conscience.

            Once again, I concede that your arguing (in linear terms) is good. You’re demanding, and I don’t mean that negatively.

            S1: “Please may I send you to Antarctica?

            S2: “They have the inter-net down there now, you know.”

            Good point…

            “Good afternoon, we should like to welcome you aboard Rendition flight 13. We hope you have a pleasant journey. We apologise for the physical restraints, which are necessary in case of air turbulence. We regret to inform you that, because of inclement weather conditions and internet access, we shall not now be travelling to Antarctica, but will instead be flying to Jupiter. When we land… etc”

            Yrs affectionately,
            S1

          • I’ve made clear, like the bishops, that I think that’s wrong.

            Yes, you’re very good at making it clear what you think. What you’re rather less good at is providing reasons why other people should believe that what you think is correct. Which rather leads one to suspect that what you think, on all sorts of matters, is in fact incorrect.

            But we can leave it up to the readers as to whether they think the person who has convincing arguments, or the person who makes wild claims that they have to admit were hyperbolic rhetoric and then refuses to engage when asked to actually defend their positions, is correct.

          • Missed the thread by clicking on the wrong ‘reply’… but my response is below, one column out of sync.

            I am now logging off… got supper to prepare (and cook) and eat.

            S1, signing out, from the comfort of her own home, her own country, her own freedom, with her own resources.

            May God have mercy and help us, as a family of nations, find the solution to the real issue of growing mass migration, which is as far deeper than the Rwanda flights thing, just like the debate on Biblical authority is far deeper than the debate on sexuality.

        • Just because I deploy emotive terms does not mean I am guilty of hyperbole. It just means I try to appeal to readers’ emotions and feelings.

          Feelings matter.

          We need to open up to our feelings to connect with ourselves, our consciences, and with God.

          Logic can also be handy.

          I trust God because I love God, and know God’s love for me. That is not logic, or a simple transactional ‘deal’. It’s emotional, and involves risk of failure.

          I don’t trust God because I have weighed up the arguments and the evidence and decided he exists.

          The Devil exists.

          But to trust and give yourself, to engage more deeply and to enlarge your being and your life… you need to open up to feelings.

          In some (but not all) evangelical circles, these ‘feelings’ are a dirty word. But that’s sad. Because God has feelings, and love for us, and we are made to open up to feelings and love back to God.

          I don’t believe in God because of ‘proof’. I believe in God because of ‘encounter’… and reception… and flow of presence, thread through with feeling.

          Same with discussion and argument. There can’t be a complete collapse of logic, because then no-one understands what you say. However, a large part of communication is about feelings.

          On an issue of conscience, like this Rwanda case, once you take the feelings out and reduce the issue (and the people) to cold logic… it may be that sensitivities get anaesthetised. Humans are not all Mr Spock the Vulcan.

          Humans are passionate, and made that way by God… and many look at the pitiful situation of these people being renditioned, and question whether they’re being treated in their own interests, or just pawns in a media gimmick. We have feelings about it.

          Rightly so.

          There was a cold logic about many horrific episodes in history. There is danger when cold logic is isolated, and cut off from feeling and the human heart.

          These flights are rightfully being called out, and they shame our country.

          This is the view I present… passionately.

          Readers can search their own hearts.

          Reply
          • But to trust and give yourself, to engage more deeply and to enlarge your being and your life… you need to open up to feelings.

            So you know what you are claiming is wrong but you don’t think it matters because it feels right?

            Yes, readers can decide.

  17. The cutting edge of the modern political scene is, at present, Liberal democracy. The ascendant political world view is Populism coming up out of the sea to consume it. It is characterised by an authoritarian political mien and is backed up by established religion. So, whether a country is traditionally Catholic, protestant, Communist, Othodox, Sunni, Shia or Cultic , the trend is Populism. The reason why we have Liberal bishops is because we live in a Liberal, individualistic culture. America shows us that the trend now is towards an Authoritarian State where the most popular religion will be in support of it. I assume that when our country follows an American Populist revividus in the not too distant future the House of Bishops will change their tune and get behind whatever Populist expression becomes the predominant cultural expression. I hope not. I hope Christian leaders can see that to do so is simply to ride the Beast and will pull their finger out.
    So, Ruanda? Bishops are just reflecting what they think is a popular, humanitarian , Liberal position. It will change as the groundswell of Rightwing Populism grows to replace what seems to be the natural , taken-for-granted position we live and swim in today.

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  18. Does anyone remember those people who wanted to live off-grid in a wood. They won their right to stay. Then after the publicity other would-be freeloaders joined them and turned their edilic campsite in the woods 8nto a another mess of human, deregulated mayhem.
    The 9nly reason life seems pleasant is because of laws thrashed out over a 1000 years.
    Of course, as a Christian, I will have to live with whatever regulation allows.
    I like the Liberal democracy I grew up in. God said , “if you don’t go there and evangelise, I will bring them here.”

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  19. I’m wondering why there are all these `asylum’ laws anyway. If people are prepared to move to the UK, with a view to abiding by the law of the land, doing a decent job of work and paying their taxes, then why should there be laws keeping them out? Why should anyone actually have to prove that they are an asylum case or some sort of protection before they are allowed in?

    I have lived in several different countries – I never had a problem getting into any of them – I never had to prove that I was an asylum case (which I never was).

    This whole business of keeping people out looks just plain nasty – and I don’t see how it fits into any Christian ethic.

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    • We’re living in difficult times . It’s like a medieval panic trying to get behind the security of the city walls before the gate is closed. At some point the city fathers have to make the difficult decision to shut the gate. The positions people take on this are varied. I don’t think there is an answer. Somebody fleeing a burning building might be shown compassion and sympathy, but, did they leave behind their aged parents to save their own skin?

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    • If people are prepared to move to the UK, with a view to abiding by the law of the land, doing a decent job of work and paying their taxes, then why should there be laws keeping them out?

      If I am prepared to move into your spare bedroom, and pay rent and do chores and generally contribute to the upkeep of your house, then why should there be a law enabling you to evict me for trespassing?

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    • Most countries have an immigration policy. I cant, for example, just move to the US if I wanted to. And governments have to be concerned about resources – you only have to look at the state of the NHS, housing, not to mention the need for food banks, to see why they cant just allow mass immigration. As a single man, despite being a UK citizen, if I was to lose the home I own through being made unemployed and had to rely on the local council, Id have a good chance of becoming homeless as such citizens are at the bottom of their lists.

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      • The Mayflower was a sort of rendition. All the odious, religious refuseniks were encouraged to go to America. In the end it proved to be a turning point in history. Perhaps you and I and should ask to be on that flight. It might become a new world , unrestrained by woke, liberal, progressive ideology. 😉

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  20. Thanks Chris,
    That is interesting, though I doubt it would be welcome, by the CoE Bishops, nor modify their statement. Maybe the Rwandan Anglicans would offer a more genuine multi-cultural, non – Western, non-white, Christian welcome?

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  21. Why do the Lords Spiritual have to speak as one on this? This unequivocal condemnation gives the false impression that the people of the Church of England are of one mind on this. It sets them up in the longer term (although some will retire soon) for a harder campaign against leaving the ECHR, which will no doubt alienate them further from a major chunk of mainstream CofE people. There are a number of episcopal vacancies coming up. Time for those elected to the appointment processes to undo the Welbification of the House of Bishops.

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  22. Don’t they have a Whip? Speak/vote with one voices or not at all? A collective conscience?
    Didn’t that happen on the N Ireland abortion?
    And hasn’t Calvin Robinson made a robust comment on this matter, on GB news, recently comparing it with the Bishops indifference to matters of irreducible doctrine of incarnation, cross, resurrection, Trinity and on matters of morality.

    Reply

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