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Lord Carey under fire over immigration remarks

"The demand for an optimum population is fundamentally at odds with orthodox Christian teaching”
19th January 2010: The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, is under fire for backing an attempt by anti-immigration campaigners to turn migration into a confrontational election issue and for saying that migrants who accepted ‘Christian values’ should take priority.

The Rev Vaughan Jones, a United Reformed Church minister who heads the cross-London agency Praxis, which specialises in working with displaced people, said: "Lord Carey is living in an unreal world. Church offices and local clergy face daily frustration around immigration issues for members of churches, international theological students and visiting church officials. Immigration controls are biting and biting hard, creating many pastoral problems including the forced separation of families," Ekklesia reported.

He added: "Obscurely worded rhetoric about supposed ‘Christian values’ and British society is far removed from the coal face. We so desperately need church leaders to devote time and love for our Christian brothers and sisters languishing in Britain’s deportation centres – and for all people fleeing misery and persecution. Lord Carey’s interventions let down hard-working clergy in his own Church and others who are supporting desperate people.”

Reacting to the calls to cut migration and introduce a population cap, Rev. Jones said: "The demand for an optimum population is fundamentally at odds with orthodox Christian teaching. Christians believe in the protection of life and a just stewardship and sharing of the earth’s resources. Without immigration we would need to take some very drastic decisions about who could and who could not live. This is a life and death issue for many."

He added: "We are faced with a changing demography which will either require the UK to have a smaller population with fewer elderly people or a larger one which has a sufficient base of people who are economically active to support the larger number of people who are not. Numbers are not the issue. In place of populist and vacuous statements and sterile debates we need urgent action to create international agreements on the movement and exchange of labour, peace-building, ecological responsibility and respect between people of faith."

A senior Welsh churchman and ecumenist the Rev Aled Edwards OBE, has also criticized Lord Carey. In an article on his website, he said: “Lord Carey’s discussion around matters of faith is deeply problematic. Migrants who wish to enter the UK lawfully cannot be discriminated against on the basis of their religion or belief.”

Mr. Tim Finch, Head of Migration Policy, ippr criticised the declaration by Cross Party Group on Balanced Migration saying it is calling for stringent limits on immigration. “If the Balanced Migration group is serious in its call, it needs to be able to answer some difficult questions. We have free movement of people within the EU: do the signatories want to stop that? We are signatories to the UN convention on refugees: do they want the UK to withdraw from it? A lot of people arrive as a result of family reunion: do we want to stop settled immigrants being able to bring in their families?”

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