Canon Giles Fraser will speak on ‘Refugees: An Old Testament Perspective’ on Friday 22 April at 7.30pm at St George’s, Belfast. The lecture is part of St George’s Bicentenary Celebrations, 2013-2016.
Fraser was formerly Canon at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, where he welcomed the Occupy protesters and invited them to attend Sunday worship. He is now priest-in-charge at St Mary’s Newington, writes the Loose Canon column for the Guardian, and broadcasts on Radio 4.
Tickets are £5 (minimum donation) and available at the door. Please arrive early to be sure of a seat.
Let the Refugees in – Every last One
Surely that’s the biblical answer to the “how many can we take?” question. Every single last one. Let’s dig up the greenbelt, create new cities, turn our Downton Abbeys into flats and church halls into temporary dormitories, and reclaim all those empty penthouses being used as nothing more than investment vehicles. Yes, it may change the character of this country. Or maybe it won’t require anything like such drastic action – who knows? But let’s do whatever it takes to open the door of welcome. “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp! Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” And yes, when Emma Lazarus wrote these words – later inscribed on the Statue of Liberty – by “storied pomp”, she meant us Brits.
… For the moral imagination of the Hebrew scriptures was determined by a battered refugee people, fleeing political oppression in north Africa, and seeking a new life for themselves safe from violence and poverty. Time and again, the books of the Hebrew scriptures remind its readers not to forget that they too were once in this situation and their ethics must be structured around practical help driven by fellow-feeling.
… Kudos, then, to Justin Welby, quoting from Leviticus. We must “break down barriers, to welcome the stranger and love them as ourselves”, he said. No, that’s not lefty hand-wringing. It’s biblical faith. And while one cannot read off the specifics of immigration policy from an ancient text, there is little argument what the underlying principles must be. And – listen up Donald Trump, who has been cluelessly invoking his love of the Bible over the last few weeks – if our politicians don’t like the basic principles, then they shouldn’t claim the Christian mantle in the first place.
(Image from Giles Fraser’s Twitter feed)