Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Easter message in a Christian country. That doesn't much like foreigners. Especially if they're in trouble

David Cameron did us a kindness in Britain last week, by sharing his thoughts on Easter in this essentially Christian country.

Easter is not just a time for Christians across our country to reflect, but a time for our whole country to reflect on what Christianity brings to Britain. All over the UK, every day, there are countless acts of kindness carried out by those who believe in and follow Christ. The heart of Christianity is to ‘love thy neighbour’ and millions do really live that out.

Such attitudes reflect a long tradition in this country. A thought which brings to mind a news story I read the other day.

A 25-year-old German woman, Theresa Weiss, was strapped in a seat of a Dutch air liner at Croydon last night after the immigration authorities had decided that she could not remain in England.

With her two-year-old daughter she landed at Croydon from Frankfort. After officials of the Immigration Office had investigated her passport and communicated with the Home Office, she was told she would have to return immediately.

She became hysterical and was attended by the airport doctor. It was decided that she should be taken on board the last ‘plane to Holland. While waiting for the departure of the ‘plane she escaped from her escort and ran in front of a taxi-ing air liner. One of the airport ground staff ran forward and dragged her to safety. Special Branch detectives and other police officers then took charge of her.

It was with considerable difficulty that she was urged into the ‘plane, and she was strapped into her seat, while her child was placed in charge of a stewardess.

Now as you read that story, you may have realised from some of the details that it wasn’t very recent. It isn’t. It comes from The Guardian of 17 August 1939.

That woman was a German refugee from the Nazis. The Neville Chamberlain Tory government sent her back to Holland. If she was sent on, back to Germany, one doesn’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to work out what her fate would have been. Hers and her terrified two-year-old daughter’s. 

The fate Christian Britain felt Theresa Weiss deserved
Along with her two-year old daughter
But even if the Dutch let her stay, she wouldn’t have been safe for long. Less than a year later, Holland fell to the Nazis and Theresa Weiss would have been back at their mercy. Along with the daughter who may have seen her third birthday, but I suspect never saw her fourth.

As part of his Easter message, David Cameron also spoke strongly for those who face the risk of murder for their beliefs.

And as we celebrate Easter, let’s also think of those who are unable to do so, the Christians around the world who are ostracised, abused – even murdered – simply for the faith they follow.

Britain is committed to protecting and promoting that right, by standing up for Christians and other minorities, at home and abroad.

Of course, it could be objected to me that Theresa Weiss’s misfortune occurred long before Cameron was even born. So in case anyone believes that these wonderful traditions have died, let’s glance at The Guardian of 4 August 2013.

A coroner who oversaw the inquest into the death of the Angolan deportee Jimmy Mubenga has issued a highly critical report that raises a series of concerns about the way the government and private contractors deport people from the UK.

Mubenga, 46, died after being restrained by three G4S guards on board a plane at Heathrow airport that was bound for Angola in October 2010.

It would appear that we may love our neighbours as Cameron claims, but we’d rather they didn’t come calling for help, any more now than in the 1930s. Samaritans who prefer not to cross the road. With UKIP virulently campaigning against every foreigner legally or illegally in this country, and riding high in the polls, don’t expect any great change soon.

So how open was the door? Ever?
Britain’s a Christian country. With a Christian Prime Minister. And a great Easter message.

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