An asylum request from an Iranian Christian has been rejected by British bureaucrats. The unidentified man said he converted to Christianity because it is a peaceful religion. This, however, did not sit well with the agency in the U.K. that deals with immigration, crime and police, known as the Home Office.
Nathan Stevens, immigration caseworker at law firm Fadiga & Co., posted photos on social media of what he termed an “unbelievably offensive” Home Office refusal letter. Stevens said he was “shocked” by the strident nature of his client’s asylum rejection.
Converting from Islam to Christianity is an act that can get you killed in Iran, where freedom of religion does not exist. As a matter of fact, a religious conversion such as this man’s is punishable by death in the Islamic state. But the British Home Office strongly disagreed with the applicant’s reasoning for adopting his new spiritual path, flatly stating that Christianity is not a religion of peace.
Having studied the Bible in depth (sarcasm intended), the Home Office cited the book of Revelation as evidence for the violent nature of Christianity. They claimed the prophetic book “is filled with images of revenge, destruction, death, and violence.” But the bureaucrats didn’t stop there – they cited Jesus’s words in Matthew 10:34, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Officials went on to say that the man’s stated reason for requesting asylum was essentially paradoxical:
“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.”
The Church of England was incensed by the letter, reports The Daily Telegraph. Paul Butler, the Bishop of Durham, who serves the House of Lords, put in his two cents on the matter:
“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.”
Even casual observers of the Bible will note that one of the many names given to Jesus throughout the Scriptures is the Prince of Peace (John 14:27, Isaiah 9:6, Luke 2:14). The sword that Jesus brought to the world was not a literal weapon; Christian theologians have interpreted Jesus’s sword as the cross or the Gospel. This is so that the world can be reconciled to Him.
Another name for Jesus in the Scriptures is that he is the Truth (John 14:6). And the truth is often divisive. Thus, some reject the Truth and in turn respond with hostility. Jesus Christ was not declaring a Holy War in this Scripture. Rather, he is stating how the world will respond to him.
The twisting of Scripture is nothing new. But doing it in such a way as to deny a man’s right to asylum is a particularly egregious judgment that could sentence this individual to death should he be returned to his homeland. Perhaps the British Home Office should eschew pontificating regarding a subject they appear to know nothing about.
The fact that an English government agency would advocate in opposition to its country’s own historical Christianity as the basis for knowingly placing the life of an asylum seeker in jeopardy is troubling enough to beg the question of whether Jesus was right all along in declaring:
“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil (John 3:19).”