Bible. Photo by alex.ch on Flickr.

In many Islamic countries, in particular the more benighted, apostasy, that is, leaving Islam for another religion, is a capital offense. So when an Iranian convert to Christianity applied for political asylum in Britain based on fear of persecution at home, one would think the decision would have been a bit of a no-brainer. No-brainer it turned out to be, as in the people considering the case didn’t have one. Britain’s Home Office declined the application on the grounds that Christianity is violent.

The applicant’s claim he converted to Christianity because it’s a “peaceful” religion, as opposed to Islam, is “inconsistent” with the violent themes and rhetoric that appear in the Bible, British officials told the asylum-seeker.

Leviticus, Exodus, and Revelation are “filled with imagery of revenge, destruction, death and violence,” the Home Office explained in its rejection letter to the Iranian man, adding Leviticus says specifically, “You will pursue your enemies, and they will fall by the sword before you.”

The letter adds, “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.”

This is not unusual. Stevens, who is an immigration caseworker in the UK, says he’s seem similar stuff before:

According to various reports, the Home Office is under pressure to reject asylum requests:

Conor James McKinney, deputy editor of website Free Movement, told the Independent that the Home Office tries to “come up with any reason they can to refuse asylum”.

“You can see from the text of the letter that the writer is trying to pick holes in the asylum seeker’s account of their conversion to Christianity and using the Bible verses as a tool to do that,” he said, adding, “The Home Office is notorious for coming up with any reason they can to refuse asylum and this looks like a particularly creative example, but not necessarily a systemic outbreak of anti-Christian sentiment in the department.”

That may be true but it is somewhat difficult to see how someone could take the time necessary to produce Bible quotes as proof that Christianity is violent without bearing some animus against Christianity in general. Again, in the British government this would probably attract no more attention than it would in academia in the United States, it only becomes noteworthy when real people start looking at it.