Wednesday, October 03, 2012

UK Border Agency obstructs the path of overseas clergy

This is a guest post by the Rev’d Julian Mann:

The Lord alone knows how many foreign nationals are resident in the United Kingdom unbeknown to the UK Border Agency. He also knows how many of them are vicious criminals and how many are plotting harm against our country.

But the UKBA is well aware of the enormous bureaucratic hurdles in the way of bringing overseas clergy to this country as reverse missionaries.

One Church of England diocese seeking to act as a sponsor for overseas clergy under the Tier 5 Temporary Religious Worker category has been told that its application is going to take at least six months.

Sponsorship by Anglican dioceses allows individual parish churches to bring clergy from Anglican Communion countries to do Christian outreach in their local communities. Clergy from Africa, for example, where the Anglican Church is growing at a phenomenal rate, have so much to give to the spiritual and moral life of our country.

Educationally, they can be invited to give talks in schools not only about Christianity but also about the socio-political situation in their countries.

The UK needs all the help it can get in encouraging positive spiritual and moral values. Anglican clergy from the Two Thirds' World feel an enormous debt to Britain because our missionaries first brought the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to their peoples. They want to return the favour.

It is iniquitous that these applications on behalf of people who want to bless our country, not curse it, are not being expedited. Reportedly, there are concerns that these clergy will not leave the UK once their two-year residency expires.

Is it anti-Christian political correctness that prevents the UKBA from accepting the word of honour of a Church of England bishop that overseas clergy in his diocese will return home when they are supposed to?

In a sane world of ordered border controls, the chances of an overseas clergyperson doing a runner would be perceived as decidedly slim. Such slim chances are certainly no grounds for bureaucratic obstructiveness penalising the law abiding and honourable.

Former British soldier Mr Adam Holloway, the outstanding Conservative MP for Gravesham, whose late father was in holy orders, has raised this extraordinary situation over diocesan sponsorship of overseas clergy with the Immigration Minister.

God willing, the moral disorder in the way of these applications will be sorted out by the temporal powers whom He has charged to foster virtue and restrain wickedness and vice, rather than the reverse.

Julian Mann is vicar Parish Church of the Ascension, Oughtibridge, South Yorkshire.


Blogger Naomi King said...

Here is a rather amusing Youtube on subject to start the day

3 October 2012 at 09:15  
Blogger Roger Pearse said...

Francis Maude comments (on a different subject) how civil servants are focused on process, not outcomes.

3 October 2012 at 09:36  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Mr Pearse

You would think politicians might have learned something, some kind of insight, about the mysterious ways of the civil service since the broadcasting in those halcyon days of Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister and repeats on Dave.
Alas they are slaves to their own ignorance and egos.


3 October 2012 at 09:43  
Blogger John Knox's lovechild said...

Does anyone know if Christian clergy or laity have applied to enter the UK as asylum seekers and the outcome of such applications, if any?

Christians are subject to penalties and outright persecution in many parts of the world.

3 October 2012 at 09:45  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

John Knox: (Whose identity I have actually got right this time)

I know my old church had troubles aplenty a few years back trying to get some visiting pastors from link churches. Whilst infuriating, I think we could at least understand the rationale behind the decision: the pastors were from an extremely poor part of the world. Of course, they were also utterly committed to serving their congregations and seeking to lift them out of quite literally dire poverty. But it was rather hard to convince the Immigration Service that in fact the pastors would have to be stopped by force from returning to their flocks...

3 October 2012 at 10:01  
Blogger John Knox's lovechild said...


If what one reads about students entering the Uk is at all true then it would seem the immigration services priorities might be a bit skewed here.

I would be interested to know whether these kinds of delays apply to all Christian clergy no matter their place of origin.

3 October 2012 at 10:14  
Blogger Darter Noster said...

I have held a British passport since birth, and am registered as a UK student. All these details are already known by by my University, yet in order to teach theology part-time I have to have my passport copied and checked, and to fill out various forms to prove to UKBA that I am eligible to work in Britain. Home students are treated as overseas students until they have proved to UKBA otherwise; the bureaucracy of it all beggars belief.

By the way, the term 'reverse missionaries' makes it sound like they're coming here to de-Christianise us and turn us into latter-day pagans. Our political and religious leaders are doing a good enough job of that on their own; they don't need outside help.

3 October 2012 at 11:11  
Blogger John Knox's lovechild said...

A man is on a roof at the Vatican protesting against the EU.

Has anyone seen Cranmer today?

3 October 2012 at 12:26  
Blogger The Gray Monk said...

It is my considered opinion that the Civil Service is a genetic disorder which prevents the application of any form of common sense, any form of fair and reasonable behaviour when dealing with applications for anything which might be Christian or involved with the promotion and spread of Christianity.

Perhaps Prof Dawkins could be funded to study this "Civil Service" gene and encouraged to find a cure for it?

3 October 2012 at 13:21  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

I don't know. This sounds like the following:

"What? I am not receiving special expedited service?! It's anti-Christian prejudice!"

Are they being unusually burdened? Is their treatment markedly different form that of other applicants? If not, then quit whining and get in line.


3 October 2012 at 13:31  
Blogger Rambling Steve Appleseed said...

British home secretatries have also been refusing visa applications from radical Christian clerics such as Fred Phelps and Todd Bentley. I am no admirer of either preacher, but they are not violent and have broken no laws nor called for any to be broken.

3 October 2012 at 13:47  
Blogger Tony B said...

"accepting the word of honour of a Church of England bishop that overseas clergy in his diocese will return home when they are supposed to?"

Is that related to accepting the word of honour of a Church of England bishop that a priest in his charge has not abused children?

3 October 2012 at 14:35  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

And of course we could cope with a steady stream of Nigerian “clergy” gaining legal access to our country could we? Don't give them any more ideas than they already have.

3 October 2012 at 17:39  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Fellows, one suspects that restrictive entry policies for clergy is actually for our own good. We must never forget that thanks to a mindless immigration policy, we now have one of the world’s great curses inside with us – Islam. Casting ones memory back over the years, the Inspector muses as to whether the 52 victims of the London bombings would still be alive today if we had stopped those evil imams coming in to spread their sub-human poison amongst the Islamic ‘faithful’.

I think we all know the answer to that one, what !

Anyway, there is a price to pay for this immigration, as there is always a price to pay for stupidity; it would hardly be stupid otherwise, would it not. And this is just part of it…

3 October 2012 at 18:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would seem the system is deliberately broken

3 October 2012 at 19:04  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You could be right there Bone(.3 October 2012 19:04)

Flooding the Country with unrestricted immigration had to have a fragmenting affect on the roots of our Society.
The Million Dollar question is who runs this Country and what is their agenda?.

3 October 2012 at 19:24  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

The International Socialists made damn sure we were undermined. And if that Milly thing gets to power, it’s back to business as normal. After all, what does the atheist son of an atheistic asylum seeking Marxist Jew care about what it is to be British...

3 October 2012 at 20:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is the answer satan?

3 October 2012 at 20:18  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...


Nah, I think he outsources these days.

3 October 2012 at 21:14  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

John Knox's lovechild said ...

"A man is on a roof at the Vatican protesting against the EU.
Has anyone seen Cranmer today?"

LOL ....

It might be len although he has just posted. Is there a cat anywhere around?

3 October 2012 at 22:27  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

"Is it anti-Christian political correctness that prevents the UKBA from accepting the word of honour of a Church of England bishop that overseas clergy in his diocese will return home when they are supposed to?"

Er, no. If they accepted his word(or is it hers?) then they would have to offer similar concessions to other religions - and why stop there?

I agree with Carl Jacobs - stop whinging and expecting special treatment.

3 October 2012 at 22:36  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe len is onto something!

3 October 2012 at 22:59  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Perhaps the C of E needs to train now clergy at home then?

3 October 2012 at 23:34  
Blogger G. Tingey said...


Vicious criminals?

How to tell one from the other?

Think of Saint Dominic - murdering bastard that he was!

4 October 2012 at 00:02  
Blogger Manfarang said...

The Empire old boy. The British Raj used divide and rule.
What about the Anglo-Indians, many of whom are Catholics and excluded from coming to Britain.
One of the finest Christians I ever met was a Church of England curate who was an Anglo-Indian.
A good egg indeed.

4 October 2012 at 05:53  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...


Why all this going on about St. Dominic as a murderer? There's absolutely no proof he was even a member of the Inquisition, except retrospective claims. These were the norm: virtually all the Friars claimed and emphasised histories that put their founder (or claimed a founder if he was unknown) at the heart of their mission. The Austin Hermits did it with St. Augustine, as did the Austin Canons with an entirely conflicting account.

Also - I hate to break this to you, but any time there was an ecclesiastical tribunal, it was an "Inquisition". That means priests with heretical views - but the vast majority were things like clergy accused of skimming off parish funds, or disputes over church property. There were historic Inquistions targeted at widescale repression of cults regarded as heretical - namely the Waldensians and the Cathars - but these can't, I think, be entirely separated from their political contexts any more than they can their religious ones. The majority of Inquistions were mundane, and virtually all of them possessed no temporal power whatsoever.

They handed their charges over to the secular authorities, and believe me, there are a good number of cases where the secular authorities preserved people who were openly heretical or obviously guilty because they were favoured. Clerks to the Crown of England usually got off on charges brought by Ecclesiastical Courts, for instance. It gets a bit muddled where the Church also possessed temporal power - and certainly it had the power to make people's lives extremely uncomfortable, but outside of the Papal States, it didn't generally have automatic rights to go around burning whoever it liked.

One final thing: it liked to give the impression it had that power, just like it liked to give the impression that excommunication was a powerful spiritual curse, capable of literally toppling castles and killing unrepentant schismatics. But it's quite possible to read in attempts to shore up the authority of the Church, an anxiety about it slipping.

4 October 2012 at 11:01  
Blogger Jon said...

I agree with Carl. If they had some special skill not present in the established population, and if the church were prepared to pay them more, they would easily qualify under the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme. Why is it that they don't, do you think?

Conservatives wanted immigration controls. You got it. Now you don't like it because it affects you (as opposed to, say small business people looking for skilled employees). Boo hoo.

4 October 2012 at 14:47  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...


Just to be clear I'm largely with Dodo and Carl on this one - but there is one minor point: how does one determine what a "special skill" means in the context of religious ministers?

4 October 2012 at 17:34  
Blogger Jon said...

AIB - I don't know. How does the UKBA determine whether anyone has a skill not present in the native population?

The whole process is rather silly - I was trying to highlight that rather than recommending religious ministers submit to it!

4 October 2012 at 17:46  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...


Ah fair enough.

4 October 2012 at 18:45  

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