Christian Converts Denied Asylum in UK After Failing to Properly Recite 10 Commandments, Answer Bible Trivia

( [email protected] ) Jun 06, 2016 11:43 AM EDT
A large amount of refugees who converted to Christianity in the United Kingdom are protesting their denial for asylum after authorities said they could not prove the authenticity of their Christian faith by reciting the 10 Commandments.
Syrian refugee children pose as they play near their families' residence at Al Zaatari refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, January 30, 2016. Photo Credit: REUTERS/ Muhammad Hamed

A large amount of refugees who converted to Christianity in the United Kingdom are protesting their denial for asylum after authorities said they could not prove the authenticity of their Christian faith by reciting the 10 Commandments.

According to The Telegraph, refugees coming to Britain must attend an asylum interview with assessors on arrival, where they are asked "basic knowledge questions" about their new faith. However, a report published by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom or Religion or Belief found that refugees converting to Christianity from other faiths are having their applications turned down if the Home Office believes their conversion was simply a ploy to claim asylum.

One man identified as Mohammed, an Iranian convert to Christianity, told the BBC that he applied for asylum in the U.K. after he fled persecution back home, but his application was denied following a failed interview.

"One question they asked me was very strange - what colour was the cover of the Bible," he said. "I knew there were different colors. The one I had was red. They asked me questions I was not able to answer - for example, what are the Ten Commandments. I could not name them all from memory."

Other cases of rejected asylum applications included refugees who were unable to identify the various books and chapters of the New Testament; an Indian Christian who did not know about the Catholic rule of abstinence on Fridays; and another Iranian who was asked to name the last book of the Bible, Revelation, with his correct answer in the Farsi language being misunderstood.

Mohammed added that the authorities had a "real challenge on their hands", saying: "If you've come to faith in an underground house church, where you've been able to borrow a New Testament for a week and have encountered the risen Lord Jesus, you're not going to know when the date of Pentecost is. 

Baroness Berridge, who heads the parliamentary group behind the report, told the BBC that it is unfair for the Home Office to expect claimants to know such facts from the Bible.

"The problem with those questions is that if you are not genuine you can learn the answers, and if you are genuine, you may not know the answers," Berridge explained.

"When the system did move on to ask about the lived reality of people's faith, we then found that caseworkers, who are making decisions which can be life or death for people, were not properly supported and trained properly."

She also suggested that some applicants get their answers wrong simply because they have not been allowed to properly study the Bible due to religious restrictions in the Middle East.

"If you are someone who has become a Christian in Iran, Bibles are not freely available - and you would not necessarily know how many books there are in the Old Testament. You might not know of lent which is not a common concept in Iran."

A report from The Guardian reveals that a growing number of Muslim refugees in Europe are converting to Christianity, according to churches, which have conducted mass baptisms in some places.

The report notes that there are "complex factors" behind the trend, including "heartfelt faith in a new religion" and "gratitude to Christian groups offering support during perilous and frightening journeys."

Johannes, an Iranian born into a Muslim family, told the outlet he began questioning the roots of Islam at university and converted to Christianity after understanding key differences between the two religions.

"I found that the history of Islam was completely different from what we were taught at school. Maybe, I thought, it was a religion that began with violence?" he said.

"A religion that began with violence cannot lead people to freedom and love. Jesus Christ said 'those who use the sword will die by the sword'. This really changed my mind," he added. 

Nevertheless, Reverend Mark Miller, who advises the Home Office about converts, said officials in Europe were failing to "understand" why people had converted to Christianity.

"Asylum assessors should be trying to understand why it is someone has left behind the faith of their family their faith of their upbringing, and chosen to follow another faith," he said.

"The guidelines say that this is a major decision that has been made and assessors should be understanding why this decision has come about."