5 February 2024

How should the church address the concerns of ‘bogus asylum claims’?

Written by Graham Nicholls
Image by David McKelvey on Flikr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

In recent times, the issue of asylum seekers potentially exploiting religious conversion as a means to support their applications has gained attention. Former Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, has expressed concerns, alleging that some churches are inadvertently facilitating what she describes as ‘industrial-scale bogus asylum claims.’

Churches do not run the asylum system and it is not for us to decide whether it is right for any individual to stay here. Our duty as church leaders is to address this matter with both compassion and a commitment to truth, guided by the principles embodied by Christ.

We are seeing genuine conversions

Contrary to claims of widespread abuse, our personal experiences with asylum seekers seeking refuge in Christianity have not revealed a significant influx. However, I do know of situations where there have been conversions from people coming from other countries with sincere spiritual hunger who are now living well as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Sympathy rather than cynicism

As church leaders our stance is one of sympathy rather than cynicism towards those who approach us for assistance. We extend compassion to individuals with a sincere interest in the Christian faith, especially those facing potential danger due to their newfound beliefs.

Yet – just as we should for anyone saying they are Christians – we recognise the importance of discernment. It is our duty to test the authenticity of individuals’ beliefs and observe how they live out their new faith. Sadly, in some cases, we may have decided that for whatever reason they are ‘faking it’. 

In certain contexts, we acknowledge the need for heightened vigilance, recognising potential ‘red flags’ that may suggest insincerity. We love heartfelt conversions to Christ from all religions and none, and we are dedicated to providing a welcoming environment for those genuinely at risk in their home countries. However, we are also committed to acting with integrity and wisdom. Pray for all Christian leaders as they navigate this challenging area.

Graham recently joined Kevin O’Sullivan and Alex Phillips on TalkTV’s Cross Talk to discuss this topic. You can watch the discussion below.

Written by
Graham Nicholls
Graham is the Director of Affinity and provides strategic leadership of the ministry teams oversees the day-to-day operations and regularly writes and speaks in the media. Graham is also one of the pastors of Christ Church Haywards Heath. He is married to Caroline and has three grown-up children, plenty of grandchildren and a wild dog.

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