Can you recite the Ten Commandments in order?
Do you know what color the Bible is?
If you failed to answer those two questions, which at best are a strange pair of questions to be asked, you might be barred from finding asylum in the UK.
In the wake of the refugee crisis weighing down the Middle East and Europe, reports of massive conversion to Christianity are being purported. These mass conversions are raising suspicions with officials in countries offering asylum. The U.K.’s solution has been to ask questions relevant to faith. However, these questions fall short, both in measuring the genuineness of conversion and in understanding what a new convert to Christianity may or may not know about their new faith.
Reverend Mark Miller, who pastors a large church of Iranian converts, says the process to assess those seeking asylum is troubling:
He told the BBC, “The asylum assessors have a real challenge on their hands. 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.
They should be asking questions that help them to understand why someone has left behind the faith of their upbringing and the faith of their family.”
Indeed, most Christians looking for refuge in the U.K. are running because of intense religious persecution. Converting to the Christian faith from Islam is considered apostasy and is often punished by death in many countries where Islam is prevalent.
For converts like Mohammed, also interviewed by the BBC, he says the questions were puzzling and not knowing the answers caused his application for asylum to be rejected.
When asked how the British Home Office should handle new Christians looking for refuge, he responded, “To know whether someone is a real believer or not, you have to look at the fruit in their lives,” he says. “The fruit is love and humility…when people come here wounded and in fear and trembling, what they most need is to receive love.”
There are other instances where applications to be rejected on the most tenuous of reasons:
1.) Individuals who were unable to offer in-depth detail about the various books and chapters of the New Testament (these individuals come from countries where the Bible is in scarce supply)
2.) An Indian Christian who didn’t know about the rule of abstinence on Fridays in Catholicism
3.) Another Iranian was asked to name the last book of the Bible, Revelation, and answered correctly. However, because he answered in Farsi, his answer was misunderstood
The British Home Office has responded to the reports by saying those in charge of the review process are to be asking questions that point to a basic knowledge of faith. They also said that the process for accepting those looking for asylum is continually under review.