As outrage grew on social media, the Home Office distanced itself from the decision, though it confirmed the letter was authentic.
“This letter is not in accordance with our policy approach to claims based on religious persecution, including conversions to a particular faith,” a spokesman for the department said in an emailed statement.
Asylum cases based on religious persecution and involving religious conversion require a great deal of expertise to assess, said Colin Yeo, a lawyer specializing in immigration at Garden Court Chambers.
“It is very hard to tell if the person is telling the truth and you need to think about what the person’s motivations are,” Mr. Yeo, who is also the editor of the asylum and immigration information website Free Movement, said in a phone interview.
“But to go as far as to dig out specific verses to try and justify a claim seems extremely bizarre,” Mr. Yeo added. “I have seen quite a lot of cases where the Home Office does not believe that the person has not converted from Islam to Christianity, but I have never seen anything quite like this one.”
The Home Office’s approach even prompted the Church of England to issue a response.
“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,” Bishop Paul Butler of Durham said in a statement.
“To use extracts from the Book of Revelation to argue that Christianity is a violent religion is like arguing that a government report on the impact of climate change is advocating drought and flooding,” he added.
Rejecting Asylum Claim, U.K. Quotes Bible to Say Christianity Is Not ‘Peaceful’ – The New York Times