Kobia tells Dutch gathering Christians should welcome all faiths

Published June 18, 2009

Doom, NetherlandsThe head of the World Council of Churches has warned of a backlash in Europe against migrants and refugees, after gains by anti-immigration parties in elections to the European Union parliament.”Sometimes the ordinary Christians in the pew are confused or even hostile to refugees who are often of a different race and colour. The backlash is not something that is happening ‘out there’. It is also happening in the communities where most of us live,” said the WCC general secretary, the Rev. Samuel Kobia.Speaking at the opening service for a “Churches against Racism” conference at Doom in the Netherlands, Kobia said that people in “Christian” nations should welcome those of other faiths. “For churches and Christians in the Netherlands and across this world, reaching out to the strangers in our midst or advocating with the government in an increasingly difficult climate is not easy,” said the WCC general secretary, who is a Methodist from Kenya.The WCC general secretary spoke one week after the anti-immigration Netherlands’ Party for Freedom led by Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, who has been accused of being a racist by his opponents, won four seats in the European Parliament, making it the party with the second-largest representation from his country.The service marked the 40th anniversary of the WCC’s Programme to Combat Racism, the German Protestant news agency epd noted. This programme assisted the victims of racial discrimination in different parts of the world, most prominently in South Africa under the apartheid regime.The WCC leader said he sees the biblical parable of the “good Samaritan” as “a classic text within the ‘ultimate immigration handbook’, the Bible”.This, said Kobia, “is as applicable to our situations today as it was in the actual context when Jesus told it. It speaks to us in this week after virulently anti-immigrant parties made unprecedented gains in European elections.”The WCC leader said that Jesus calls on “all of us to be neighbours of immigrants” whom he described as oppressed minorities in European nations.”We are called to reiterate our clear position that racism is a sin against God,” said Kobia.The WCC groups 349 churches – predominantly Anglican, Orthodox and Protestant – in more than 100 countries.


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