March Newsletter: Officials in UK and Sweden use Bible Passages to Reject Asylum Claims

Posted on: March 26, 2019

Country: United Kingdom / Sweden

March 26, 2019

Dear Readers,

In the last week, the agencies responsible for asylum decisions in two countries came under deserved scrutiny. In the United Kingdom and Sweden, these agencies have demonstrated religious illiteracy at best, and at worst, an animus toward Christianity.

Without question, claims for asylum must be rigorously scrutinized. At the same time, the reckless and inconsistent approach to converts' asylum claims must be overhauled, not just among individual civil servants, but on a systemic level. Read more about these cases below.

Please visit our website to see all of our cases.

Our newsletters can generate press attention to the issues we cover. Since our last newsletter about the wave of vandalism and desecration against French churches, I have had the chance to speak to many journalists from both Christian and secular media (like Newsweek) about our work and the issues we think are important. Please continue to share our newsletters widely in your networks. 

Thank you,

Ellen Fantini
Executive Director




On March 19th, the immigration case worker for a Christian convert from Iran posted on Twitter the letter his client received from the Home Office rejecting his asylum claim. Asylum claims based on fear of persecution due to conversion to Christianity are, sometimes rightfully, rejected all the time. So why is this one important?

When asked about his conversion to Christianity, the man told the Home Office that he converted after he discovered that Christianity was a peaceful religion, compared to Islam. The rejection letter from the Home Office contained passages from the Bible, including Matthew, Revelation, and Exodus to contradict the man's claim that Christianity was "about peace, forgiveness, and kindness." 

The letter said "these examples are inconsistent with your claim that you converted to Christianity after discovering it is a 'peaceful religion' as opposed to Islam, which contained violence, rage, and revenge."

After public outcry and swift criticism from Christian leaders, the Home Office has said that it would reconsider the man's claim. 

Read more here.



On March 20th, a report analyzing the asylum claims from 2015-2018 of 619 Afghan converts to Christianity was launched in Stockholm. It outlined serious shortcomings in the Swedish Migration Board's process of processing asylum claims by converts to Christianity.

68% of the converts were denied asylum on the grounds that their conversions were not deemed to be "genuine," despite all of them being baptized membersof 76 churches in 64 locations across Sweden.

The report noted that the Migration Board emphasized answers to questions amounting to a knowledge test -- with religious belief primarily seen as a system of ideas to study and conversion as the degree received. Read more about the kinds of questions converts have been asked here

And as in the UK, the Migration Board used certain Bible passages to contradict conversion stories based on the peaceful nature of Christianity compared to Islam.     

The applicants, including many who were illiterate, were expected to have the ability to bring together knowledge and personal experiences, to have good knowledge of Christianity and to give an authoritative account that is "detailed and resonant," as well as revealing a "sufficiently intellectual approach."

The Migration Board also downplayed the converts' fears about what would happen if their conversions were revealed. Authorities wrote that there was no reason to assume that Afghan authorities would discover the conversions or that there would be any danger if the conversions were discovered. Of course, this is absurd, as converts from Afghanistan, the second most dangerous country for Christians according to Open Doors, can face death upon deportation because conversion from Islam to Christianity is deemed apostasy.

Read more here.
Download the full report (in Swedish) here

Have you heard or read about an incident in Europe negatively affecting Christians or Christian buildings, symbols, or institutions? Have you been assaulted, threatened, or discriminated against because of your Christian faith? Have you been verbally harassed and silenced when stating a Christian position?

Please tell us your story or send us a link. You can email us here, or click REPORT A CASE on our website.

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