The religious literacy of Government officials has been questioned after they rejected a professing Christian’s bid for asylum based on a “profound misunderstanding” of the Bible.
The Iranian asylum seeker said he converted to Christianity from Islam after discovering that it was a “peaceful” religion.
In an “unbelievably offensive” letter, an official cherry-picked Bible verses which they said were “inconsistent” with the man’s claim.
The Bishop of Durham, Rt Rev Paul Butler, said: “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”.
Nathan Stevens, the immigration caseworker, 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 will be appealing the Home Office’s decision, raising an official complaint.
‘Lack of understanding’
In 2016 it was revealed that one Iranian asylum seeker’s application was also rejected after an interview in which he was asked what colour the cover of the Bible is, and he didn’t know how to answer.
He later said: “I knew there were different colours. The one I had was red.”
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on International Freedom of Religion or Belief said at the time that Government officials had a “lack of understanding of religion”.