Date: March 26, 2019
An Iranian man seeking refuge in the UK has had his claim refused by the Home Office who informed him in a letter that his decision to convert to what he described as “peaceful” Christianity and to leave Islam because “[in it] there is violence, rage and revenge” was “inconsistent”.
The letter, described as “unbelievably offensive” by the man's immigration caseworker, cites excerpts from the Bible – including Exodus, Matthew and Revelation – and states, “these examples are inconsistent with your claim that you converted to Christianity after discovering it is a peaceful religion”.
In a staggering display of Biblical ignorance, the Home Office official quoted examples from Revelation, without any regard for the context of the verses, in the letter as evidence that Christian Scripture is “filled with imagery of revenge, death, destruction and violence”.
Nathan Stevens, from the legal firm representing the asylum seeker, asked, “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?”
Stevens said he is appealing the Home Office’s decision on behalf of his client and will be raising an official complaint.
Paul Butler, the Bishop of Durham, responded saying, “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.”
The Bishop criticised the illogical, out of context, use of verses from Revelation in particular saying, “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.”
He went on to suggest that the incident shows there is serious problem in the ethos and management structures of the Home Office as well as indicating a profound Biblical illiteracy among civil servants.
Please join us in prayer: Pray to the LORD who administers true justice (Zechariah 7:9) that the UK Home Office will consider Christian refugees’ asylum applications fairly and impartially (Leviticus 19:15). Ask that the outcry over the official’s ill-advised comments will lead the Home Office to a better understanding of the perilous situation faced by Christians in the Middle East, as well as greater compassion that will impact on their decisions as they consider the cases of Christian converts.