The Home Office in the UK refused asylum to a convert from Islam to Christianity because they felt Christianity was not a peaceful religion.
In 2016, an Iranian national claimed asylum but was told that their conversion to Christianity was not as peaceful as they thought it was. The convert explained to the office that they converted after discovering the peacefulness of Christianity versus the “violence” of Islam.
The letter of refusal from the department punched back at the asylum seeker’s claim and quoted several verses from the Book of Revelation, saying, the Bible is “filled with imagery of revenge, destruction, death and violence.”
According to the Independent:
It [the letter] 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.'
After higher officials of the Home Office learned of the asylum seeker’s denial they claimed the refusal letter was “not in accordance” with their policy approach “to claims based on religious persecution,” and said they would work to improve the training of employees who were in charge of approving such requests.
The Christian convert’s caseworker, Nathan Stevens, tweeted his confusion on how this case was handled, saying, “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.”
Excerpt from a home office reasons for refusal letter for a convert to Christianity. 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. pic.twitter.com/R1wA1HMNwH— Nathan Stevens (@nathestevens) March 19, 2019
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?— Nathan Stevens (@nathestevens) March 19, 2019
“Whatever your views on faith,” he continued. “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?”
After receiving criticism for the denial, the Home Office has agreed to reconsider the applicant's request for asylum.
Conor James McKinney, a legal expert in the UK and also the deputy editor of website Free Movement, stated that the Home Office always comes up with any reason to “refuse asylum and this looks like a particularly creative example, but not necessarily a systemic outbreak of anti-Christian sentiment in the department.”
But Sarah Teather, director of the Jesuit Refugee Service in the UK, saw the Home Office’s refusal differently and pointed out that it could be because of the Iranian national’s newfound Christian beliefs:
“Some of these cases require more legal knowledge to recognise than this bizarre misquoting of the Bible,” she said. “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.”
Addressing the issue again the Home Office stated:
'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.'