An Iranian Christian asylum seeker was sent a rejection letter from the Home Office which said Christianity is not the peaceful religion he claimed it to be.
The claimant said in his application that he had found ‘peace, forgiveness and kindness’ in Christianity in contrast to the ‘violence and revenge’ of his former Muslim faith.
But an official in the Home Office challenged his interpretation and quoted several passages from the Bible to refute his claim.
The Bible passages included Matthew 10:34 where Jesus says, ‘Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword.’
The official then cited Revelation 2:22-23 and chapter 9:3-6, stating, ‘Similarly, the book of Revelation is filled with imagery of revenge, destruction, death and violence.’
The official added, ‘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 Home Secretary Sajid Javid has ordered an ‘urgent investigation’ into the letter and confirmed the Home Office will reconsider the man’s asylum application.
The Home Office added that the letter was inconsistent with its policies and that it was working with faith communities to improve its guidance and training.
Church of England Bishop Paul Butler was among those to have expressed outrage about the letter.
He said that the use of the Bible quotes represented ‘such a profound misunderstanding of the texts and practices of faith communities’ and that the management structures and ethos of the Home Office needed ‘serious overhaul’.
In the House of Commons, Tory MP Sir Edward Leigh questioned the Home Secretary on what was being done in response to the letter.
He asked Mr Javid whether he would acknowledge that ‘amongst his officials, they may be so worried about being accused of Islamophobia or anti-Semitism that they overcompensate by becoming Christian-critical and they don’t understand that Christianity is the cornerstone of all our freedom’.
In his response, Mr Javid said an investigation was under way and that he would not rule out further action being taken.
‘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.’