The British government has been using the Bible against Christians seeking asylum after converting from Islam—most recently, citing verses from Leviticus, Exodus, and Revelation as evidence that the faith was not more peaceful, as one Iranian convert claimed in his application.
Anglican leaders and other advocates for refugees condemned the immigration department’s decision to deny the Iranian’s 2016 petition for asylum this week.
The letter sent Tuesday from the Home Office declared that Christianity was not a peaceful religion, bringing up “imagery of revenge, destruction, death, and violence” in Revelation and the line “You will pursue your enemies, and they will fall by the sword before you” from Leviticus 26:7.
“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,” the government official stated.
The denied applicant’s caseworker, Nathan Stevens, 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.” Stevens said he plans to appeal the decision.
Bishop of Durham Paul Butler, who leads bishops in the House of Lords on immigration matters, issued a response on behalf of the Church of England.
“I am extremely concerned that a government department could determine the future of another human being based on such a profound misunderstanding of the texts and practices of faith communities,” said Butler.
“To use extracts from the Book of Revelation to argue that Christianity is a violent religion is like arguing that a government report on the impact of climate change is advocating drought and flooding.”
The immigration department told British media that the denial was “not in accordance with our policy approach to claims based on religious persecution, including conversions to a particular faith.”
The Church of England reiterated its calls for greater religious literacy among the Home Office.
Since some from Muslim-majority countries might claim Christianity thinking it will improve their odds at asylum, the government is tasked with gauging whether their claims are sincere.
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Source: Christianity Today