The Lord’s Prayer and Terrorism

Some people have asked for copies of my last week’s talk “Terrorism and the Lord’s Prayer”. I completely reworked the structure of it this morning, having remembered that the original idea came from noticing that 11th September this year fell on a Sunday, (tomorrow).

I hope you find it interesting and thought provoking.

You can either download it as a printable a5 booklet terrorism-booklet or as a straight a4 version: the-lords-prayers-and-terrorism


My Letter to the Times Supporting Migrants (unpublished)


Theresa May says, “If you’re just managing. I want to address you directly.” I look forward to her slashing Home Office immigration fees which by their own admission are nearly 250% of cost price. I also look forward to her ending working migrant families being forced to pay twice for the NHS, (through both tax and surcharge).

She says, “You have a job, but you don’t always have job security.” I look forward to her ending the harassment of migrants who lose their jobs with immediate effect – and potentially their housing too – if their application to renew Leave to Remain is delayed by a single day.  Currently, the Home Office keeps thousands of powerless families vulnerable to destitution within 24 hours.

She says, “We will do everything we can to give you more control over your lives” and “fighting against the burning injustice”.  I look forward to her reversing the Home Office aim to raise court fees for immigration appeals by 600%, which if implemented will effectively deny justice to thousands of people who have every right, but no means to seek it?

All these innovations came in while Theresa May was Home Secretary.  Will she and Amber Rudd now reverse them?


Richard Dormandy (Rev).

Why Christians Should Vote Remain

Some people have asked me if Christians should vote a particular way in the Brexit referendum.
My answer is YES: we should vote REMAIN, and for the following reasons.

1. Protection of the poor and vulnerable. Regardless of whether you are politically on the left or the right, it is clear that the policies of those leading the Leave campaign do not favour the poor and vulnerable in our society. Those of us who work among people in such situations know how difficult life has become in recent years with the threats to Human Rights, slashing of benefits, the destruction of Legal Aid, the unjust rise in Home Office fees, the Right to Rent, and so on. Under a government led by those favouring Leave, indeed under any government operating in the political climate of a Leave result, things would only get worse for those who are most vulnerable.
Christians, along with Jews and Muslims, have an explicit Scriptural duty to protect the vulnerable as a matter of utmost importance, (Ps 82:3).

2. Peace. The European Union was borne out of a desire for peace. Being part of it would never be easy, but Remaining is the Peacemaker’s option. 70 years of peace in Europe has been a wonderful gift, but let’s not forget that our hunger for war has merely been displaced to other arenas: notably Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East. The EU has not stopped unnecessary war, but it remains a major force for peace in Europe – a peace that should never be taken for granted.
Christians, along with Jews and Muslims, have an explicit Scriptural duty to “seek peace and pursue it”,(Ps 34:14). Jesus said, “Blessed are the Peacemakers.”  When I look at the two campaigns in this referendum, I do not see peacemaking on either agenda. But the Leave campaign in particular is not one which makes for peace.

3.  Collaboration. The EU is all about collaboration – and of course this is not always easy.  The Leave campaign talk about losing our sovereignty, but of course we do have representation at the EU; and let’s not forget that every international treaty is by definition a curtailing of sovereignty:  Think of the start of WW1 – a war which we “were obliged” to enter because of an alliance with Belgium.  Sometimes the Leave campaign seem to want Britain to exist in “Splendid Isolation”. But there is nothing splendid in isolation. It leads to weakness and lack of options.
Collaboration can be challenging. We don’t always get what we want. But collaboration is how God has created the world to flourish, so leaving the table is a retrograde step in living up to the human calling God has for us.

4. Immigration.  Difference is may be challenging from time to time, but above all it is enriching.  The bottom line on immigration is that it is a very good thing.  British culture has been built upon it from the earliest times. There are specific challenges arising from immigration. But the real problems we face in this country are not caused by it, even if they are exacerbated by it in localised situations.  When Boris Johnson paints the spectre of “70 million Turks” arriving here, he is deliberately appealing to our fear of difference; by calling them “Turks” rather than “Turkish People” he’s using a word that emphasises this further.
The Christian vision to which we are called is one in which the gifts of all nations are celebrated together., (Rev. 21:24). We need to rise above using migrants as scapegoats and create a culture in which we rejoice in thriving together.

5. Reality.  The option to Remain is firmly based in the reality of here and now.  But the Leave campaign is fueled by nostalgic dreams of a past that we cannot return to – even supposing that it ever existed. An example of this is the belief that by leaving the EU we can “make Britain great again.” Does this mean rebuilding a global empire?  Such an enterprise is both questionable and impossible. It is not only a fantasy, but one based on avarice and pride. Other more specific examples are beliefs such as that leaving will “solve” immigration, keep terrorists out, deal with the housing crisis, fill the black hole in the NHS. None of these assertions have any real credibility, but are largely wishful thinking.
The Christian faith is all about living in the real world, (1 John 1:1). In Jesus, God was enfleshed in human history. His life and death were real. As Christians, we continue to practice our faith by serving real people in the real world. Our faith is not about isolation and domination, but about playing our part and taking our place. We have no interest in fantasy.

To Conclude:  In sharing the thoughts above, there are countless other arguments and angles I could have taken, joining the speculation on winners and losers. But, as a teacher of the Christian faith, I have chosen to focus on five principles which I believe should at least inform, if not guide a Christian vote.
For me, the issue is very clear – but you must decide for yourself.

Baga and Paris –

So in the same week that 17 people were killed in Paris, up to 2,000 were slaughtered by Boko Haram in Baga, Nigeria.

The Guardian ran one of the fullest accounts on page 25 – the final page of its international news section.  This was a long way after the full 7 pages of news from Paris.

What might this mean?

  • Maybe it means that African lives are worth less to us than European lives – about 14,823 times less (2000/17 x 18 [pages later] x 7 [number of pages]).
  • Maybe it means that ordinary people’s lives mean less than those in the media – it’s inevitable that the media is going to use all its powers to defend its own.
  • Maybe it means we feel the shock of such a thing happening in Paris because it’s a city “like ours” “close to home” and we would therefore hope it would be safe.  So we accept terrible things happening in Africa?  Why do we accept this?
  • Maybe it’s because there are more French people living in the UK than Nigerians.  But the figures are uncertain.  Last year the Mayor of Brent, Michael Adeyeye claimed that over 1m Nigerians are living in London.
  • Maybe it’s because we “so passionately hold to freedom of speech” – yet the work of some Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, like their Danish equivalents, was to deliberately inflame. Is this the freedom of speech we really desire?
  • Maybe it’s because once the media machine burst into action, our political leaders knew nothing else than to jump on board.  Being seen “alongside” was too easy a shot not to miss.  What happened to standing alongside the people of Baga?
  • Maybe we didn’t want “our” drama being overshadowed.  It’s really good to respond to murderous acts of terrorism with demonstrations of peaceful, unafraid resistance.  But if such an act causes such a dramatic response, why does the slaughter of up to 2,000 innocent people barely get a look in?

What do you think it means?


In reality immigration is like this… #1

My name is Donna. (not her real name),

I was brought over to England when I was 12, by my mum who already had leave to remain here.  I grew up mainly with an auntie, however, because mum was always busy just trying to get by.  As a result, no-one ever applied for me to have the right to remain here.

I went to secondary school and made lots of friends, and I decided that when I was 18 I would get my status sorted once and for all so that I could work and settle down.  Technically, I had still only spent one third of my life in the UK, but in terms of growing up and forming lasting relationships, it was the most significant third.

The Home Office refused my application, even though I had the support of my MP and several others in my local community.  When I appealed and tried to take matters further, they appeared to have lost my paperwork.  This situation continued for two or three years.  I was now living with my mum, but in limbo.

Then I had a baby.  My relationship with my boyfriend is completely genuine, although lately we’ve been finding things very difficult.  He also lives at home with his parents, and naturally I am the main carer for our little girl.  Now she is nearly three years old.

My immigration status is still not sorted out.  My UK-born daughter has a right to stay here and she needs me to look after her.  But the response to my most recent appeal is still negative.  Realistically I have no-one to turn to back in my country of origin, even though technically I have family there.

beforetheriot’s comment:  Surely the solution to this situation is self-evident?  Donna is, in fact, an extremely positive contributor to the local community, and a strong mother.  She has now spent half her life here in the UK.  She is not “on the take” “a cheat” or “lazy” in any way.

The anomalous nature of her status here is due to someone else’s error when she was younger.  Probably, back then, she would have been included in her mother’s permission to remain. It’s not good enough for the Home Office to say “Our hands are tied; this is the policy; you have no right to remain.”  In fact, due to her daughter, she does have a right to stay.

Increasingly, these situations come down to a battle of wills.  Getting legal advice and support through the process is increasingly expensive not only because fees continue to rise, but also because funding to community law charities for this kind of case has been severely restricted.

But there really should be no battle at all.  It is simply wrong of our government to be sending her back.  She and her daughter are innocent victims of mistakes or misjudgements that were made in the past.

What do you think?