EU imperfect bureaucracy but better than bombs says leading churchman
Published on 16 June, 2016
The European Union has enabled people to live in an unprecedented period of peace and walking away would be a "denial" of Britain's global humanitarian and moral values, a leading churchman has said.
The Rev Dr Richard Frazer, convener of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland, said Leave campaigners who claim that the immigration crisis and loss of sovereignty was the cause of the country's woes were "playing a dangerous game"
He added that it was "simply wrong and a denial of our history" to believe that the challenge of immigration and the refugee catastrophe was someone else's problem and a vote to leave on June 23 would not address it.
Last month the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland reaffirmed its support for the European Union - a position it has held for 20 years on the grounds of promoting peace and security alongside its ability to address issues of global injustice such as migration and climate change.
It is for each individual to decide how they are going to vote, however.
Humanitarian and moral values
Dr Frazer said: "The European project is far from perfect, but in as much as it has successfully replaced bombs with bureaucrats it has enabled European citizens to enjoy unprecedented peace, stability and opportunity since the Second World War.
"The issues we face are ones that, we have in part made for ourselves and, remaining within the EU, we have the influence to be part of the solution rather than simply standing in the wings and laying the blame with the 'other'.
"To walk away would be a denial of the very humanitarian and moral values for which we stand as an active participant in global civil society. "In this global world, there is no 'them' and us, only 'us'.
Dr Frazer, minister at Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh, said one of the most common human characteristics is to blame other people for misfortune – a scenario that goes all the way back to Adam and Eve.
"In their case, they blamed the snake for tempting them to eat forbidden fruit," he added.
"In the case of those advocating an exit from the EU, it is common to hear people blame faceless bureaucrats in Brussels or a mighty onslaught of foreigners waiting at our borders to overrun our way of life."
Dr Frazer said many of them were British civil servants working under the instruction of elected representatives.
"The British civil service is one of the best in the world," he added.
"They are well organised, sensible and are one of the many reasons that our European colleagues would like us to remain in the EU.
"The way to reform it is not to walk away but to increase our influence."
Dr Frazer said: "What is important here is not to tell people how to vote - that is for everyone's individual conscience."
The minister has written a more detailed account on why he supports the General Assembly decision to reaffirm Britain's place in the EU.