This Sunday, the BBC intends to put out an edition of its programme Songs of Praise from a makeshift church in the migrant camp known as the Jungle in Calais. Predictably, maybe inevitably, this has caused a stir among the more right-leaning tabloids. In particular the Express is really cross, leading with the story on its front page.
The reasoning here is a bit tenuous. They claim it’s an overtly political move by Auntie Beeb. It’s yet another example of the inherent bias of the Beeb. By this they mean that the corporation doesn’t always agree with the rabid racism and sexism of the newspaper.
Enter Nigel Farage, court jester to the loonie right. He thinks it just plain wrong to depict anything to do with the migrants ‘massing’ to enter the UK. He seems to think it’s fine to show them storming trucks, but not to show them at worship. I half expected him to whinge that the church in question is Ethiopian Orthodox, since I’d wager he doesn’t see that as a proper branch of Christianity.
I’m not going to go into the rights and wrongs of the migrant situation. I’m also not best placed to discuss religion, since I’m a non-believer. However even I can see the point that the Beeb is trying to make.
The people in the Jungle have fled often oppressive regimes in their homeland, travelled thousands of dangerous miles, been ripped off by traffickers, faced drowning in the Med, and are now living in abject poverty and squalor. Despite all that, they have chosen to build a church to celebrate their god. I think that’s rather moving, even while I find it misguided.
Songs of Praise does what it says on the tin. It shows people praising god. Not my cup of tea, obviously, but that’s what it does. Now the loonie rightwingers seem to be claiming that, for some reason, a migrant’s right to worship, and to be seen to be doing so, is somehow non-existent. Their worship is of a lesser value than that somewhere in the leafy suburbs of England.
I don’t think that’s a very Christian attitude at all. I’m surprised these idiots haven’t called for a ban on churches in prisons. Criminals have no right to worship; that’s the reasoning they’re using against the illegal migrants, isn’t it? So why do lags get the chance to contact their god?