The Archbishop of Canterbury has said he’s fed up with the unrelenting “mischaracterisation” of the Church in discussions about asylum seekers converting to Christianity.
In a post on X, formerly Twitter, he said: “ Over the last week it has been disappointing to see the mischaracterisation of the role of churches and faith groups in the asylum system. Churches up and down the country are involved in caring for vulnerable people from all backgrounds.
“For refugees and those seeking asylum, we simply follow the teaching of the Bible which is to care for the stranger. It is the job of the Government to protect our borders and of the courts to judge asylum cases.
“The Church is called to love mercy and do justice. I encourage everyone to avoid irresponsible and inaccurate comments – and let us not forget that at the heart of this conversation are vulnerable people whose lives are precious in the sight of God.”
Most Rev Justin Welby’s comments came after a Tory MP accused him of “scamming” taxpayers amid questions over asylum seekers converting to Christianity in order to get a permanent stay in the UK.
Speaking at Prime Ministers Questions, the MP for East Worthing and Shoreham said: "So Christianity in the UK seems to be on the wane unless apparently, you are from a Muslim country in the middle of an asylum claim.
"We're now told one in seven occupants of the Bibby Stockholm have suddenly become practising Christians.
"Can I ask the Prime Minister that given that the Church of England has now issued secret guidance for clergy supporting asylum applications for these Damascene conversions, who is the Church accountable to and are taxpayers being scammed by the Archbishop?"
Weymouth Baptist Church, which confirmed that people living on the barge are preparing for baptisms with them, has said the requested conversions are genuine.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed that the Home Office will investigate the role religious conversions play in asylum seekers’ applications.
In a discussion hosted by the Religious Media Centre that featured Christian leaders on Thursday, Loughton urged churches to develop guidance on how to evaluate the legitimacy of a conversion claim.
Last week, former Home Secretary Suella Braverman claimed she had become aware of churches “facilitating industrial-scale bogus asylum claims”.
In response, Rt Rev Guli Francis-Dehqani, Bishop of Chelmsford refuted the accusations and said it’s the responsibility of the Home Office, not churches, to assess the validity of asylum claims.
The whole controversy was sparked by an attack against a 31-year-old mum and her two children in south London.
Police have been on a manhunt for 35-year-old Abdul Ezedi who they believe threw a corrosive liquid over them. The mum may lose sight in her right eye.
Ezedi claimed asylum after arriving from Afghanistan and was allowed to stay in the UK after a church backed up his claim he'd converted to Christianity.