Home Office refuses Christian convert asylum by quoting Bible passages that “prove Christianity is not peaceful”
The Iranian national, who claimed asylum in 2016, was told passages in the Bible were “inconsistent” with his claim to have converted to Christianity after discovering it was a “peaceful” faith. However, chief executive of the National Secular Society, claims: “ It’s not the role of the Home Office to play theologian.” - Campaigners say the case demonstrates 'distortion of logic' and the typical 'reckless' approach to asylum seekers' lives.
The Home Office has refused asylum to a Christian convert by quoting Bible passages which it says prove Christianity is not a peaceful religion.
The Iranian national, who claimed asylum in 2016, was told passages in the Bible were “inconsistent” with his claim to have converted to Christianity after discovering it was a “peaceful” faith.
The refusal letter from the department states the book of Revelations – the final book of the Bible – is “filled with imagery of revenge, destruction, death and violence”, and cites six excerpts from it.
It then states: “These examples are inconsistent with your claim that you converted to Christianity after discovering it is a ‘peaceful’ religion, as opposed to Islam which contains violence, rage and revenge.”
When contacted by The Independent, the Home Office said the letter was “not in accordance” with its policy approach to claims based on religious persecution, and said it was working to improve the training provided to decision-makers on religious conversion.
Lawyers and campaigners said the case demonstrated a “distortion of logic” and a “reckless” approach to asylum seekers’ lives, stemming from a tendency by the department to “come up with any reason they can to refuse” cases.
The latest immigration statistics reveal an increase in the number of incorrect asylum refusals, with successful appeals against Home Office decisions up 5 per cent since 2015-16, now standing at 45 per cent of all of those that go to tribunal.
Legal expert Conor James McKinney, deputy editor of website Free Movement, said the case was a symptom of the Home Office’s tendency to “come up with any reason they can to refuse asylum”.
“The Home Office is notorious for coming up with any reason they can to refuse asylum and this looks like a particularly creative example, but not necessarily a systemic outbreak of anti-Christian sentiment in the department.”
Sarah Teather, director of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in the UK, said the case was a “particularly outrageous example of the reckless and facetious approach of the Home Office to determining life and death asylum cases”.
Stephen Evans, chief executive of the National Secular Society, said: “Decisions on the merits of an asylum appeal should be based on an assessment of the facts at hand – and not on the state’s interpretation of any given religion. It’s not the role of the Home Office to play theologian.”