The Home Office is being urged to improve its religious literacy following outrage over its handling of an Iranian Christian convert’s request for asylum.
Writing in The Times, Laurence Wilkinson, of the Alliance Defending Freedom International, said it “beggars belief” that the Home Office used points of theology to reject an asylum seeker’s application.
The letter also “raises questions about the culture in the Home Office”, which he said was lacking sensitivity towards Christians at risk of suffering persecution for their faith in their home countries.
“Not wanting to dive into a deep theological debate, the real shocker is that the Home Office official was using ‘theological’ points to deny a person asylum,” he said.
“While the Home Office did agree to revisit the application, and the home secretary has confirmed an urgent investigation, quite how an official letter could be sent out like this in the first place beggars belief.”
He added: “Hopefully this unfortunate chapter can lead to some increased religious literacy on the part of the Home Office, who should be sensitive to the real threat that many face for simply wanting to live in accordance with their religious beliefs.”
Responding to questions about the scandal in the Commons this week, Home Secretary Sajid Javid insisted the letter was “not in accordance with” Home Office policies.
“I found the letter totally unacceptable,” he said.
“It is not in accordance with policies at the Home Office in any way. I have ordered an urgent investigation and not ruled out any further action.”
The letter went viral after extracts were shared to Twitter by the asylum seeker’s caseworker Nathan Stevens. In it, a Home Official quoted from parts of the Bible, including Matthew and Revelation to refute the asylum seeker’s claim that Christianity was a peaceful religion.