Anglican leaders should preach word of God, not word of the Guardian

The Archbishop of Wales, Most Revd Dr Barry Morgan, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, have been suggesting that the half a million migrants who come into the UK each year are not enough and more should be welcomed. It is a familiar message from church leaders who these days seem more comfortable preaching the word of the Guardian than the word of God. 

How wonderfully saintly it must feel to sleep at night with an easy conscience knowing you have roundly condemned the wicked politicians and bigots who worry about mass migration without actually having to take difficult decisions yourself and live with the consequences.

However, it will not fill the pews. A recent poll shows that immigration is the issue of greatest concern to the population, much more so than “climate change” - an issue about which the Church seems unduly obsessed even though Biblical stories of plagues and floods appear to suggest inclement weather is not something particularly new.

If Anglican leaders spent a bit more time listening to their rapidly diminishing flocks, they would discover that people want to help genuine refugees but are deeply concerned by the implications of the open door immigration policy which the Church seems to want.

There are huge financial costs - not just in terms of providing housing and money to all those who come, but an impact on NHS services, school places and downward pressure on wages, especially for those in low paid jobs.

There are environmental costs. The hundreds of thousands who arrive each year and the hundreds of thousands more who the Church want will need houses, roads and workplaces which need to be built in our decreasing number of green areas. Major building projects always attract local protests. Ironically they are often led by an unholy coalition of the very same left-wing politicians and left-wing clergy who create the need to build through their demands for higher immigration levels.

Perhaps the most serious costs are cultural. Some of those coming to the UK have very different values to our own on issues such as gay rights, women’s rights and the right of people to choose to leave their religion and take up another. Much more needs to be done by both Church and state to assimilate people with different values to our own. But the more who come the harder this will be. 

There have been occasional utterances from the Church about forced marriage and female genital mutilation but I wonder when was the last time you heard a leading Anglican on the radio condemning the practice of covering women from head to foot in black at all times. The Burka is now official uniform policy at some UK schools. Surely this is a matter the Church should have a view on. 

One cleric after another takes to the airwaves or the Guardian to contrast the government’s determination to maintain border controls by selectively quoting the Bible. Yet the Bible is full of references to borders - of Egypt, Israel, Canaan and more - and these borders were respected. 

The Old Testament makes clear that foreigners living in the land of Israel were expected to obey the laws and customs of the land. It's a message we don't hear much of today.

Jesus’ family were genuine refugees at one point. But Joseph took his family with him when he fled, unlike the hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants in Europe today who are mainly young men and who, if they are genuinely fleeing the modern day equivalent of Herod, seem happy to leave their wives, sisters and children behind to fend for themselves.

The government is rightly doing an enormous amount to help genuine refugees from Syria. We have spent over a billion pounds providing safe shelters across Turkey, the Lebanon and Jordan for those fleeing war. Thousands of the most vulnerable will be rehoused in the UK. Yet nothing will be enough for campaigning clerics who contrast our policy unfavourably with that of the Good Samaritan.

They should re-read the parable: When the Samaritan came across the Jew on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho, he didn't take him on to Samaria. Instead, he paid for him to be looked after in the Inn - the nearest place of safety, just as we are doing today throughout the Middle East in our refugee shelters.

Prelates happily take to the airwaves or the comment page of the Guardian to preach multiculturalism and mass migration, but how willing are they to preach Christianity to those who have just arrived in this country and have never heard the word of God? Especially to those whose values are far removed from ours? Yet isn't this exactly what the leaders of the Christian faith should be doing? Jesus was not afraid to deliver a difficult message to those around him. Vacuous left-wing sermons condemning a government for upholding border controls is not a difficult message.

The Archbishop willing to confront in person those whose religious values condemn women and gays to being, at best, second class citizens and who would do harm to those converting to Christianity, would be truly walking in the footsteps of He who turned over the tables of the money changers.