This development continues a trend that has been building for a couple years:
The refugee crisis played into the hands of the Catholic Church in Austria: the country recorded a significant number of Muslims who converted to Christianity
Three quarters of the 750 baptized adults in 2017 are immigrants from Muslim countries, DW reports citing the agency dpa and the official spokesman for the Archdiocese of Vienna.
Only in the Austrian capital, 260 people representing 15 different nations have been baptized.
Fredericke Dostal, who is responsible for the baptism of adults in the archdiocese, says the claim that migrants change their religion in order to increase the chances of getting an asylum are groundless.
“Since the Catholic Church in Austria does not want to receive pseudo-Christians, we are very strict in selection of candidates and authorization of the rite of baptism,” she noted.
More details, from a 2017 report:
A soaring number of Muslims, many of them refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, are converting to Christianity, breathing new life into Europe’s once floundering Christian churches. The Muslims are flocking to various Christian denominations, experts said, including becoming Protestants, evangelical or Catholic.
As many parts of Europe are becoming more secular and houses of worship are seeing congregants leave in droves, it is Muslim converts who are reviving struggling Christian churches.
“European churches have struggled for decades to share the gospel with modern secular Europeans,” Matthew Kaemingk, a professor at the Fuller Theological Seminary in Seattle, told Fox News. “They have found Muslim immigrants to be much more open to the message of Christianity.”
Kaemingk, who has done research focused on Christian responses to Muslim immigration in the Netherlands, and has written a book titled “Christian Hospitality and Muslim Immigration in an Age of Fear” that will be published this fall, said secular Europeans rarely sense a deep need for the type of healing and salvation the church offers.
“Europeans are wealthy, comfortable, healthy, and powerful,” Kaemingk said. “In short, they don’t think they need God.”
But, he added, Muslim immigrants are quite the opposite – they are intensely spiritual. But they are leaving their own religion for a variety of reasons.
Meanwhile, this story from 2016 helps shed light on why they are attracted to Christianity, with a profile of one Anglican church in England whose vicar, the Rev. Sally Smith, has faced a backlash from some members of her flock:
“My biggest challenge has been the attitude of some of the people within the church,” says Smith. “I have had a lot of opposition. Criticism, negative attitudes and trying to undermine the work that we are doing – that’s from the white British congregation.
“I have lost lots of congregation members because of what has happened at the church. They don’t want the hassle and they don’t want the church being messed up. They see the church as having a very definite role and opening the doors to refugees isn’t one of them.”
She adds: “They expected a vicar’s role to be looking after the people inside the church and one of the insults often leveled at me is: ‘She cares more about the people outside the church than those inside.’ Well, this is what I am meant to be doing and you’re meant to be doing it with me. We should be doing this together.”
She is defiant, determined, but not naive. Smith – known as Mother Sally by the refugees – concedes that some do convert solely because they believe it will help with their asylum application, but she says these are few and far between. Others claim they have had the doors closed on them by mosques, who have turned them away in their hour of need, leaving them starving and homeless.
At St Mark’s they receive a warm welcome – the building is packed to the rafters with donations of everything required to set up a new home and food parcels are handed out twice a week. They are given bus fares if needed and Smith even takes them into her own home if they are homeless. Smith says: “It is about being part of a kingdom where there are no border agency officials, where there are no passports necessary, where there are no immigration detention centres. One worldwide family where there are no dividing barriers.”