Biblical savagery used to deny asylum to a convert to Christianity

Biblical savagery used to deny asylum to a convert to Christianity March 21, 2019
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Stephen Evans, Chief Executive of the National Secular Society, above, has blasted the UK’s Home Office for refusing an asylum’s seeker’s application on theological grounds.

The Iranian was reportedly refused asylum when he claimed to have converted to Christianity because he’d discovered it was a “peaceful” faith. In response, the Home Office quoted Bible passages that refuted his claim, made in a 2016 application.

A refusal letter the man received from the Home Office made clear that the book of Revelations – the final book of the Bible – was “filled with imagery of revenge, destruction, death and violence”, and cited six  excerpts from it.

It then stated:

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.

Evan said it was  “wholly inappropriate” for the Home Office to use:

Theological justifications for refusing asylum applications. 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.

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.

Nathan Stevens, the asylum seeker’s caseworker, tweeted:

I’ve seen a lot over the years, but even I was genuinely shocked to read this unbelievably offensive diatribe being used to justify a refusal of asylum. Whatever your views on faith, how can a government official arbitrarily pick bits out of a holy book and then use them to trash someone’s heartfelt reason for coming to a personal decision to follow another faith?

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. You can see from the text of the letter that the writer is trying to pick holes in the asylum seeker’s account of their conversion to Christianity and using the Bible verses as a tool to do that.

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.

She said JRS regularly encountered cases where asylum had been refused on “spurious grounds”, adding:

Some of these cases require more legal knowledge to recognise than this bizarre misquoting of the Bible, but as this instance gains public attention, we need to remember it reflects a systematic problem and a deeper mindset of disbelief, and is not just an anomaly that can be explained away.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

This letter is not in accordance with our policy approach to claims based on religious persecution, including conversions to a particular faith. We continue to work closely with key partners, including the All-Party Parliamentary Group on International Freedom of religion and a range of faith groups, to improve our policy guidance and training provided to asylum decision-makers so that we approach claims involving religious conversion in the appropriate way.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • TrickyDicky

    I wonder what was the religion of the author of the refusal letter?

  • Kit Hadley-Day

    Bloody hell, can we leave the idiot religion on the other side of the ruddy pond, lets not start with this level of inhumane bullshit resting on the shifting sands of religious justification in a country that has understood the true purpose of religion since we set up our own.

  • Raging Bee

    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.

    The moron who sent that note could be a Christian bigot looking to fabricate a narrative of “Christian persecution” by the (relatively) secular and Muslim-friendly UK government. That is, at least, a possibility that can’t be ruled out, given the Christian Reich’s well-known track record of lies, fabrications and phony victimhood.

  • John Pieret

    While a case could certainly be made, what with the “kill the gays” laws in parts of Africa, supported by American Christians, among other examples, that Christianity is not a particularly “peaceful” religion. That’s not the question before the Foreign Office, however. That question is what will potentially happen to the asylum-seeker if he is returned to Iran after having declared his apostasy from Islam. Islam is most definitely not a peaceful religion when it comes to those who have attempted to leave it. Chances are good the man would be executed for his apostasy.

    The only question is whether that is enough for asylum.

  • barriejohn

    So true!

  • barriejohn

    That’s a worrying possibility. Surely, everyone realises by now that each religion teaches exactly what its adherents say that it teaches at any given time – no more and no less.

  • Jim Jones

    Revelation got into the Bible because of stupid people who confused two ‘Johns’.

  • Jim Jones

    Probably an LDM (Later Day Morons).

  • 1859

    Perhaps he would have had a more sympathetic response had he declared himself a convert to the FSM? This is the ultimate non-religion of peace. Praise be to pasta!

  • barriejohn

    But the FSM is a purely imaginary god, whereas the others are real. He’d just have been considered mentally ill!

  • 1859

    But barriejohn, that’s just the point, we know the FSM is a total fiction – so what is really worshipped is the human imagination. It’s just that – as you indicated – far too often the human imagination goes off the rails !

  • barriejohn

    Oh dear; I was being sarcastic! My point is that WE know that they are ALL imaginary, but, for some strange reason, if you worship Jehovah or Allah your delusion is treated with enormous respect. Worshipping “made-up gods”, on the other hand, is considered weird!

  • 1859

    It’s a good point bj. I’ve often wondered myself why the gods of the big organised religions command/demand such ‘respect’ – I think it’s maybe because they have become so instituionalised, so historically embedded in societies, that to deny their existence is to put society at too great a risk. So the institutions pretend they are ruled by fairies as a means of self-protection.