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2018-08-29T000000Z_622105460_RC1D695F6A70_RTRMADP_3_UN-CONFLICT-WELBY.JPG
Reuters
World News

Tory MP accuses Justin Welby of ‘scamming’ taxpayers amid questions on migrant conversions

by Heather Preston

A conservative MP has accused the Archbishop of Canterbury of ‘scamming’ taxpayers amid questions over asylum seekers converting to Christianity.

Speaking at Prime Ministers Questions, former minister Tim Loughton suggested statistics that show a decline in church attendance and baptisms within the Church of England in recent years is at odds with reports on Christian conversions.

"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?"

It came after a church elder in Dorset said 40 asylum seekers on the Bibby Stockholm barge had become Christians.

Churches have come under fire after the suspect in the Clapham chemical attack, Abdul Ezedi was granted leave to remain in the UK after converting to Christianity. The incident has led to suggestions of a ‘loophole’ in the immigration system, as human rights laws prevent believers from deportation to countries where they would face religious persecution.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed that the home secretary James Cleverly has requested a review into asylum cases and what role conversions to Christianity have played.

The former Home Secretary Suella Braverman claimed she had become aware of churches “facilitating industrial-scale bogus asylum claims” for people who converted and whose country of origin persecutes Christians.

Following the accusations, the Bishop of Chelmsford rejected that the Church aids fake asylum claims, adding that it is the role of the Home Office, not of churches, to assess and vet asylum claims.

 

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