Thursday, 27 November 2014

What Did Jesus Teach About Immigration?

Victim's face

Paul Kohler, victim of savage attack in London.

Some Christian clergymen dabble in politics and use their sermons to tell us that Jesus would have approved of this or that political agenda. I think they are on very shaky ground.
Would Jesus really have objected to the idea of deporting the four men who beat up the London lecturer pictured above? They broke into his home demanding money and beat him so violently that he needed facial reconstruction surgery. The vision in his left eye is now damaged, perhaps permanently. When the case got to court, the judge goaled them, but that means that the British tax-payer will have to fork out £30,000 per year for EACH of the four to be kept in prison. While there they get free food, heating, TV, health care, training, and the chance to do an Open University degree. Was that perhaps what they were intending all along?
       I am not going to say where the attackers come from, because I have nothing against the law-abiding people who come from that country, but I think it would be fairer for these attackers to be sent home to serve their sentence, and never permitted to return to the UK. The same goes for the group of 13 Somalian men who came here as refugees and have just been convicted of running a child prostitution racket in Bristol with English girls.  They used victims as young as 13 and many were raped repeatedly. The ring was discovered after one girl was taken to a hotel and raped by three men.

I would send these men back to their place of origin. And I don't think Jesus would have objected. 
   It is true that Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan, who rescued the traveller beaten up by thieves, and gave him all the help he needed. The moral of the story is that we are to help those whose misfortunes are accidental but Jesus does not say how we should treat the attackers. He does not tell us to treat the criminals with such leniency as to attract millions more violent criminals to come to your country. 
       Jesus lived in a time when means of transport were very limited. Unless you could afford a horse or a donkey (and most people couldn't) you walked everywhere. Roads were very poor and made of stones. They were also scarce. You might find no road at all in the direction you needed to go. There were very few inns and you could not book in advance, so the risk of having nowhere to stay overnight was always high. Most people stayed all their lives in the region, probably the same village where they were born. They might go away to join the army or because they were driven out by famine or drought but even then they tended to return, when they could. The idea of migrating to the other side of the world did not occur to many of them. 
         So when Jesus said, "I was a stranger, and you gave me hospitality," he was envisaging the occasional, isolated stranger on foot who might pass through a typical village in Judea every few months or so. He was not envisaging mass migration by millions of people travelling by train, car, lorry or aeroplane, none of which had then been invented. He was not talking about the situation we now have with hordes pushing their way through the Channel Tunnel, and gangs smuggling people across borders like contraband.
        Jesus could also, we are told, do miracles, but we can't, so we have to find some feasible, practical solution to the question of how many people to fit onto a small island. The population of the world is 7 billion. They won't all fit. The population of the EU is 505 million  - they can't really fit very comfortably. If they all turned up simultaneously, at the vicarage of some Marxist-minded clergyman such as Giles Fraser tomorrow morning, demanding to be "taken in", to be paid benefits, to get a free house, free health care and to stay permanently, he might have to change his mind about literal interpretations of scripture.

In some browsers, you may have to click on the title to make comment box appear.

No comments:

Post a Comment