Officials with Britain’s immigration office rejected the asylum application of an Iranian national who said he converted from Islam to Christianity because it was a more peaceful religion… by using Bible quotes to debunk his hypothesis.
Was that a stroke of genius? An insult to religion? A dismissive way to handle an asylum application? Religious leaders and immigration activists already have their answers. (It’s not the first option.)
The Home Office — which is responsible for handling immigration, security and law and order — used verses from the books of Leviticus, Exodus and Revelation in an attempt to argue that Christianity was hardly “peaceful.” The asylum seeker’s application was denied on Tuesday, according to the man’s legal representative, who shared details on social media.
“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,” read a rejection letter Mr. Stevens shared excerpts from online.
The Home Office isn’t wrong that the Bible is full of horrific verses. We could play that game with other holy books, too. But where they cross the line is the assumption that anyone who converts to Christianity is aware of and accepts those verses as is. Plenty of Christians don’t know those verses exist or they can rationalize them away. Some of the largest divisions within Christianity are nothing more than a game of which verses they want to cherry pick. So it’s unfair to the asylum seeker to dismiss his claim because Christianity isn’t really peaceful.
The critics see this whole charade as part of a pattern by the Home Office to reject requests.
Cynthia Orchard, a legal adviser at the charity Asylum Aid, called the document “an appalling decision letter,” but said it was just one of “many other examples of the Home Office making terribly unfair decisions on asylum and other matters.”
In 2018, the Home Office found itself under scrutiny after many longtime legal residents of West Indian and Caribbean descent were wrongly declared undocumented immigrants, and some were detained and subjected to threats of deportation.
Those hard-line immigration policies threaten the lives of the most vulnerable members of any society, and to reject someone based on what you think his religion is instead of what he says his religion is seems both backwards and cruel.
For now, the man’s lawyer says the decision will be appealed.
(Image via Shutterstock)