21 April 2019, The Tablet

May raises plight of persecuted Christians at Easter

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn praises Christian values for teaching respect for refugees

May raises plight of persecuted Christians at Easter

Prime Minister Theresa May arrives to attend an Easter Sunday church service near her Maidenhead constituency.
Photo: Steve Parsons/PA Wire/PA Images

Across the world Christians are murdered, persecuted, attacked and forced from their homes, the Prime Minister said in her Easter message.

Theresa May said that she would spend Easter “giving thanks in church”, but noted that for many Christians around the world “such simple acts of faith can bring huge danger.”

Speaking days before hundreds of people were killed in attacks on churches in Sri Lanka, the PM said: "Churches have been attacked. Christians murdered. Families forced to flee their homes. That is why the government has launched a global review into the persecution of Christians. We must stand up for the right of everyone, no matter what their religion, to practise their faith in peace.”

The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in his Easter message praised Christian values, in particular a concern for migrants and refugees that he said was rooted in Jesus’ own identity as an outsider. Jesus, Corbyn noted, was himself a refugee, driven from his home by a campaign of terror by a dictator.

"Jesus went on to know what it was to be ostracised, rejected and tortured. A family forced to flee their homeland for fear of persecution," he said.

"Sadly, this is still so familiar to us today. There are 68 million refugees across the world, more people than have ever before been forced to flee persecution, war and abject poverty."

He called the ongoing refugee crisis a moral test, and said that Jesus taught us to respect refugees and welcome the stranger.

"And the Bible says 'the foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born',” he noted.

He attacked the government’s record on refugees, saying: "In Britain, we have a proud history of providing a safe refuge to those in need. But this Government refuses to meet our legal obligations to child refugees in Europe as required by the Dubs Amendment.

At the end of last year as refugees tried to cross the Channel, Sajid Javid threatened to deploy the Navy. But in response, the Bishop of Dover said 'it is crucial that we all remember we are dealing with human beings here'."

He said churches are leading the way in offering support to refugees. "We can learn from Christian values and offer the hand of friendship to welcome those in need."

"Churches across the country support refugees, including through community sponsorship programmes. And they’re campaigning to allow asylum seekers to work sooner. This is true leadership, drawing on Jesus' teachings to show us how we should approach this great moral test.

So at this time of new hope and new aspirations we can learn from Christian values and offer the hand of friendship to welcome those in need."

  Loading ...
Get Instant Access
Subscribe to The Tablet for just £7.99

Subscribe today to take advantage of our introductory offers and enjoy 30 days' access for just £7.99