The Moral Compass: should Australian churches be offering sanctuary to asylum seekers?

In open defiance of the government, church leaders around the country are invoking the historical concept of sanctuary by opening their doors to asylum seekers at risk of being returned to Nauru. Do such moral and religious precepts have a place in the control of our borders or is such well intentioned compassion misplaced? Watch this episode from April 10, 2016.

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From SMH: Nuns, church groups start training for Australian Border Force raids

It is hard to imagine the brawn of the Australian Border Force raiding the convent where Saint Mary MacKillop’s body is entombed.

But that is the scenario North Sydney’s Sisters of St Joseph will be preparing for on Sunday, as they ready to help harbour asylum seekers the Turnbull government tries to force back to Nauru or Manus Island… Read more.

From The Australian: Churches United on the Offer of Sanctuary

More than 100 churches across Australia and two orders of Catholic nuns are preparing to invoke the ancient Christian doctrine of “Sanctuary” in defiance of a federal government attempt to deport 267 asylum seekers at the centre of a High Court case over offshore detention… Read the full story from The Australian.

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#Letthemstay sanctuary training set up at Brisbane Cathedral

From the Brisbane Times by Amy Mitchell-Whittington. Read the full story….

The Anglican Dean of Brisbane welcomed those willing to stand with him in providing a sanctuary for refugees by facilitating “sanctuary training” on Sunday.

Dr Peter Catt declared St John’s Cathedral in Brisbane’s CBD as a place of sanctuary more than a month ago for the 267 asylum seekers who the High Court of Australia ruled must return to offshore detention centres.

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‘The whole nation is on board’: inside the sanctuary movement to protect asylum seekers

From The Guardian – Read the Full Story. Across Australia, hundreds of people are gathering at churches to learn how to engage in civil disobedience and protect asylum seekers from border force officials

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Churches vow to protect asylum seekers

From Sky News – Read the Full Story. Hundreds of people who are prepared to put their bodies on the line to protect asylum seekers looking for sanctuary in Australian churches have attended training sessions across the country.

Some 115 churches have vowed to provide sanctuary to 267 asylum seekers, including children, facing deportation back to Nauru.

In Melbourne, more than 100 people attended the Wesley Uniting Church on Sunday to learn how they could help protect the asylum seekers if they do look for sanctuary in the church.

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Nuns Train To Resist Government Threat To Church Sanctuary Tradition, Dating To Middle Ages

From the HuffPost Australia – Read the Full Story.

In the peaceful heart of Mary MacKillop Place, near where the tomb of Australia’s first saint rests, people — including nuns — gathered on Sunday to learn the principles of non-violent resistance.

They were shown how to body block and deal with police in preparation for the possibility they would need to protect asylum seekers looking for sanctuary in the church from being taken by Australian Border Force officers.

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Churches hold lessons for asylum seeker protesters

Churches hold lessons for asylum seeker protesters – by Bethany Hiatt – The West Australian

People interested in protecting asylum seekers who sought sanctuary in churches attended training sessions held in every capital city yesterday. Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce executive officer and national church sanctuary movement co-ordinator Misha Coleman said the training was in non-violent “anti-deportation measures”. Read the full story.


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From SBS: Hundreds attend ‘sanctuary’ training sessions to protect asylum seekers

Hundreds of people have taken part in training sessions across the country to help protect asylum seekers looking for ‘sanctuary’ in churches in defiance of the federal government’s attempt to deport 267 asylum seekers to offshore detention. By Lydia Feng. Read the full story at SBS News.

Canadian Church Sanctuary and the Rule of Law

Bordering on Legality: Canadian Church Sanctuary and the Rule of Law by Sean Rehaag

This paper examines church sanctuary incidents in Canada involving unsuccessful refugee claimants seeking to avoid deportation. Download the full document.

SanctuaryFBAre you a Church or church group wanting to offer Sanctuary to Asylum Seekers?

The granting of Sanctuary is a strong and pivotal act of civil disobedience on the part of the church. It derives from the ancient power of the church to give ‘Sanctuary’ and offer protection from the authorities to those most vulnerable who are in fear of their lives. The granting of Sanctuary was recognised by English law from the fourth to the seventeenth century to provide immunity to arrest.  

To register your interest in getting involved, fill out your details and we’ll keep you posted about the campaign.

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