The leader of the Church of Scotland has urged the UK to stop dehumanising people fleeing persecution and take in its share of refugees
The Church of Scotland has urged the UK Government to demonstrate love and compassion by providing refuge to migrants fleeing persecution.
The Right Rev Dr Angus Morrison, Moderator of the General Assembly, said he was observing the response to the situation at Calais in France with “growing alarm and anger”.
He said the UK should take in its fair share of migrants and criticised the intemperate language being used, which he claimed too often demonisd, denigrated or dehumanised people seeking refuge in Britain.
“We believe it is important that public debate is grounded in values of compassion and that decisions are made on the basis of facts," said Dr Morrison.
“In recent weeks discussion has increasingly appeared to be based on the principle of self-interest.
“Our faith instructs us not to fear the stranger, but to love our neighbour.
To talk of those gathering at Calais as a swarm, or "marauding around the area" encourages people to see those in desperation as less than humanThe Right Rev Dr Angus Morrison
“As Christian churches we follow one who was himself a refugee and who demonstrated that all people have an inherent, God-given dignity.
“To talk of those gathering at Calais as a swarm, or "marauding around the area" encourages people to see those in desperation as less than human, and so less deserving of sympathy, respect or dignity.”
Dr Morrison said UK ministers must accept that most asylum seekers could not be returned to their countries of origin and the UK should follow in the footsteps of other European nations who have opened their borders to help fellow human beings in extremity.
In 2014, Germany took three times more asylum seekers than the UK's 14,000 and Sweden accepted twice as many.
France, Italy and even Switzerland also granted asylum to more people than the UK.
The Church has teamed up with the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church to sign a strongly worded statement calling for immediate action to tackle the crisis.
UK Government ministers have been urged to promote European Union run migrant processing points at key entry points such as southern Italy and Greece.
Dr Morrison pointed out that the UK had been militarily involved in some of the situations that had given rise to the kind of persecution and repression from which people were fleeing. Historically, the UK has also welcomed people fleeing persecution, including Jews escaping from Germany during the Second World War.
He said the suggestion that offering the hand of friendship would damage living standards implied that British lives and well-being were somehow more valuable than those of others.
“We share the concern of all involved to see a peaceful and humane solution to this particular expression of a far broader catastrophe,” he added.