From Bethlehem To Bedford: What If Mary And Joseph Were 21st Century Refugees?

A modern nativity with a difference has been released by UK Churches to draw attention to the plight of asylum seekers in Britain.

The 'Very British Nativity' video shows child actors retelling the Christmas story as if Mary and Joseph were trying to seek sanctuary in the UK.

The Holy couple struggle to get by in temporary accommodation, while the three wise men – who don't know how long they are planning to stay in Britain – get taken into custody by the police before they can deliver their gifts.

The video was produced by the Church of Scotland, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church.

It follows government statistics that revealed in September, 3,245 asylum seekers in Scotland received accommodation and/or financial support of less than £6 per day, and is part of a church-led campaign to challenge hostile attitudes towards asylum seekers.

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"We have repeatedly called for a deeper generosity on the part of the UK Government in offering a welcome to refugees and asylum seekers," said the Church of Scotland's Rev Dr Richard Frazer.

"We believe we should treat others as we wish to be treated ourselves and that human rights and human dignity are universal.

"We fear there is a 'war against sanctuary' which the UK Government is expressing through eroding legal rights for asylum seekers and threatening to penalise the children of people without appropriate documentation to discourage migration."

Grace Pengelly, the film's director and a policy adviser for the Churches, said Britain's Churches are "very concerned about the degrading treatment and challenges faced by asylum seekers in the UK".

"It is sometimes all too easy to forget that many seeking asylum have already experienced a great deal of trauma," she added. "Rather than providing the standard of care that we would wish for ourselves, many aspects of the UK's asylum system appear to add to the suffering already endured by those seeking refuge.

"Our hope is that in seeing this film people will be more aware of how hard this Christmas will be for some of the poorest members of our society."

The alternative nativity follows the release of Christmas cards by medical charity of Doctors of the World UK which show war scenes imposed onto the nativity.

The hard-hitting cards show traditional biblical images overlayed with pictures from modern warfare including explosions, fighter jets and missiles.

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