Eighty four Church of England bishops have gone public with a letter they wrote to David Cameron urging him to accept another 50,000 refugees from Syria. They said that Britain’s decision to accept 20,000 by 2020 was not enough and most people wanted to help more.
The BBC reports that it was unusual for the Bishops to go public however it’s not the first time that they’ve got involved in politics. Just last year before the election the bishops had to defend themselves from charges of political bias when they released an unprecedented manifesto that said it was the “duty” of every Christian to vote.
That 52-page letter warned that people felt “detached” from politics and called for a “fresh moral vision of the kind of country we want to be”. Although it was careful to praise the work of some earlier governments from both left and right, it was seen by many Conservative MPs as a distinctly left-leaning document, including references to the Trident nuclear deterrent, Britain’s relationship with the European Union and the welfare state.
Nonetheless, the bishops themselves would argue that it is their duty to offer moral leadership, and to speak out when they feel strongly that they and their flock wish the government to do more, and offer their help on the major issues of the day – however unwelcome that message may be to some.