Christian asylum-seekers arriving in the UK are reportedly being tested on “Bible trivia” before they’re allowed into the country, says a parliamentary group dedicated to protecting the rights of refugees and asylum-seekers.
The Guardian said Tuesday that the nonpartisan Asylum Advocacy Group released a report detailing allegations that Britain’s Home Office is quizzing asylum-seekers on specific factual trivia about the Christian Bible.
The report — titled Fleeing Persecution: Asylum Claims in the UK on Religious Freedom Grounds — said questions have included “what are the 10 commandments?”, “when is Pentecost?” and “how many books are there in the Bible?”
If the applicants fail to answer correctly, their requests for asylum can be denied.
Asylum Advocacy said in its report that a rote, fact-based exam questions are “a very poor way of assessing a conversion asylum claim and result in wrong decisions and expensive appeals.”
The report said that the practice is “too simplistic a way to judge if an individual is, for example, a genuine convert. Furthermore, anecdotal evidence has shown that some people are learning as much as they can so they can be prepared for the Home Office interview.”
Religious asylum seekers fleeing religious persecution can include “Muslim converts to Christianity, Ahmadiyya Muslims, Hindus and people of other faiths or no faith,” said the Guardian.
The Asylum Advocacy Group’s chair, Elizabeth Berridge, acknowledged that immigration officials are under pressure to make “incredibly nuanced and difficult decisions to make sure that genuine claims are accepted and non-genuine ones are rejected.”
The group called for in-depth training of Home Office officials and for data to be collected on the number of refugees seeking asylum on the grounds of religious persecution.
“Applicants should not be caused unnecessary distress and should be able to speak freely, especially in cases where the case worker/interpreter is a member of the religious community that has carried out the applicant’s persecution,” the report concluded.