Church leaders urge politicians to take the Pledge

The leaders of the Methodist Church in Britain, the BaptistUnion of Great Britain and the United Reformed Church are askingpoliticians to take the Sanctuary Pledge, which is an initiative ofthe Citizens for Sanctuary Campaign.

The Revd David Gamble, President of the British MethodistConference, said, "Politicians must resist the temptation to useasylum as a political football in their election campaigns. Westrongly support the Sanctuary Pledge campaign's call forpoliticians to campaign responsibly, and not to demean thosefleeing persecution and seeking sanctuary in Britain. I hope peoplewill ask candidates standing for election to sign the SanctuaryPledge."

The pledge is a commitment to campaign positively and sensitively,helping the public to understand why it is important to offer asafe haven to people fleeing persecution. It also asks politiciansto support policies that will end the forced detention of childrenand families, and to promote awareness of the UK's long heritage ofproviding a safe haven for people seeking sanctuary.

The Revd John Marsh, Moderator of the United Reformed Church, said,"By taking this pledge, political candidates will show that theyare serious about offering sanctuary to those who cannot findsafety in their homelands. As Christians, we are called to love ourneighbours as ourselves, and the Citizens for Sanctuary campaignencourages us to do just that."

"We are particularly concerned about the detention of children andyoung people in the asylum system," continued the Revd JonathanEdwards, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain."There is overwhelming evidence that holding children in detentioncentres is damaging to their physical and emotional wellbeing.Children are particularly vulnerable, and no matter where they arefrom, we all have a duty to protect them from harm. We encouragepoliticians from all parties will sign the pledge and commit toending the detention of children."