The Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT) have launched their End Hostility report [PDF] calling for an end to the ‘hostile environment’, starting with a full independent review of Home Office immigration policy and practice which examines the damaging effect the policies of the hostile environment have on the whole of society.
The report also calls on all people to exchange attitudes of discrimination and distrust for those of love and justice. It has been published by JPIT: the Baptist Union of Great Britain, Church of Scotland, Methodist Church and United Reformed Church working together for peace and justice.
In their latest blog post, JPIT describe the situation in the USA as “truly shocking”.
“The separation of children from their parents at the border and the possibility that some of them will never be reunited represents the height of cruelty within a system of border control. US Attorney General, Jeff Sessions’ use of the Bible to justify this policy fails to recognise the importance of being citizens of the kingdom of God.”
But this reminder about the importance of treating migrants with humanity and decency irrespective of their legal status also causes reflection closer to home.
The UK’s immigration and asylum system has created a ‘hostile environment’.
“We believe that the hostile environment deliberately inflicts destitution, encourages discrimination, and thrives on suspicion. It is time to challenge the hostile environment and to promote a more hospitable environment. We invite churches, church groups and individuals actively to challenge the hostile environment.”
Over the next four weeks, JPIT will release videos, stories, prayers and poems calling for the government to end hostility.
“Every human being is a child of God and should be treated with dignity and respect. Society and therefore the state have a duty of care to welcome strangers in our midst, protect the vulnerable and provide for those in extreme poverty, wherever they are from. Racism and related forms of discrimination are a denial of the gospel.”
The report presents a Christian response to the destitution, discrimination and distrust caused by the hostile environment.
Suggestions are made about how churches, church groups and individuals can challenge the UK’s hostile environment and promote a more hospitable policy, including writing to and meeting local MPs to call for the government to initiate a full and independent review of immigration policy and practice, as well as a call for self-reflection about language, hospitality and complicity in a culture of suspicion and distrust.