Minister receives hate mail for work with refugees

by Richard on November 20, 2009

From BBC News:

A Methodist minister has been sent hate mail because he has allowed his church in Greater Manchester to be used by a group helping refugees.
Reverend Phil Mason, from The Victoria Hall in Bolton, said he was concerned for his family after receiving the notes in the last few months.
But despite their abusive nature, he said he had forgiven the authors.
The hall supports the Befriending Refugees and Asylum Seekers group, which runs a weekly drop-in session.

“It’s very hard when you open a letter and you see some of the aggressive language that’s put in there,” Mr Mason told BBC Radio Manchester.

“Your stomach turns and your immediate thought is concern about the safety of the family and yourself.

“But then you begin to see beyond the language and just realise that people’s perceptions of asylum seekers and refugees are very distorted.”

Mr Mason has not reported the incidents to Greater Manchester Police, despite the offensive content of the letters.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1

Tim Chesterton 11.20.09 at 4:49 pm

John 15:15-21 seems appropriate.

2

Swan 11.22.09 at 2:06 pm

I find the first scntence of the news excerpt a bit strange.

Anyway, our church supports illegal immigrants, homeless people, and other disadvantaged people in our neighborhood and I’m sure some of our pastors have gotten negative and possibly hate mail because of it.

3

Tony Buglass 11.22.09 at 4:32 pm

Swan - why is it so strange? It happened. Fact.

I’m sure he isn’t the only one to receive hate-mail; you’re probably right about your pastors. I have written letters in our regional paper about various issues, and written articles for them at their request - every time, I’ve received anonymous hate-mail from people who disagree with me, but have neither the skill to argue their case nor the courage to put a name to it.

As Tim said, Jn.15:15f fits the bill. If we stand for Christ, we will necessarily be standing against those who stand against him or Kingdom values. Fair enough.

4

Swan 11.23.09 at 5:05 pm

“A Methodist minister has been sent hate mail because he has allowed his church in Greater Manchester to be used by a group helping refugees.”

Well, what I found strange is that it says he allowed his church to be used by the group. As if he was somehow distanced from it. Like they were only using the building. But in fact this seems like a cause that should probably be supported by the church.

5

Madeleine Kingston 12.02.10 at 9:01 am

Richard

Thanks so much for this article. I live as far away from Greater Manchester as one could imagine. This brief note is one of empathy since I can relate.

I have also paid the price of hate mail because of my support of the plight of asylum seekers and refugees, which I wear as a badge of honour. If I did not, I would be forced to withdraw my support of the principles that I believe in.

I publish under my own full name, so I guess that leaves more vulnerable. That is a choice I make, despite the risks, and the ridicule I sometimes have to face because of standing up for my principles.

I unequivocally support humanitarian issues and have been actively , publicly and vociferously making my concerns at least heard if not listened to.

I was somewhat taken aback when in an attempt to support a well-known international organization supporting human rights and refugees in particular what price has to be paid for standing up for one’s principles. This has included hate mail, publicly available that has attempted to embrarrass and humiliate me.

This is not the first time I have had to face attempts to embarrass me. I will spare you the details, and instead wear this as a badge of honour.

Without reservation, and certainly without embarrassment, I will continue to stand up for my beliefs and principles, which include unequivocal support for the plight of those whose human rights have been compromised in any way.

At the top of my list are asylum seekers and refugees seeking to rely on the UN Refugee Convention and numerous other provisions, e.g.

Covenant on Civil & Political Rights,

Convention Against Torture

Convention on the Rights of the Child - even if they do not meeting the definition of refugee under the Convention

I live in a sub-continent whose commitment to fundamental principles relating to asylum seekers and refugees is in the balance. I have dared to speak out.

Am I disillusioned.? Absolutely.

Will I stop standing up for human rights? Absolutely not.

Do all international organizations supporting human rights recognize the implications and purpose of hate mail or sufficiently value their most committed supporters. No.

Have my rights of freedom of expression been compromised? I think so

Will that encourage me to stop speaking out? No.

Will that encourage me to stop speaking out? No.

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