A furious Tory MP accused the Archbishop of Canterbury of potentially scamming taxpayers after an official Church of England document revealed the extent to which the institution is supporting asylum seekers.
Tory MP Tim Loughton used Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) to raise the scandal, pointing out that the Archbishop has admitted church attendance has fallen by 15 percent since he took up the role.
He said: “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 are now told that one in seven occupants of the Bibby Stockholm have suddenly become practising Christians.
“Can I ask the Prime Minister, given the Church of England has now issued secret guidance for clergy supporting asylum applications for these Damascene conversions, who is the Church accountable to?”
He boldly concluded: “Are taxpayers being scammed by the Archbishop?”
The Prime Minister revealed that the Home Secretary has already asked for more information about the extent to which migrants converting to Christianity is playing a role in our asylum system.
Mr Sunak added that under the Government’s new legislation, anyone arriving in the UK illegally will not be granted asylum here.
He blasted Labour for blocking these new measures at every stage in Parliament, saying: “They don’t have a plan, and they won’t keep Britain safe!”
Mr Loughton’s PMQs question came after the Express revealed the official Church of England document earlier this week, providing advice to clergy on how to mount “personal campaigns” in the event of an asylum application being requested.
The guidance, which sparked widespread fury among Tory MPs and Nigel Farage, also took swipes at the “political narrative about British identity, rights and values” as well as the “anti-immigration rhetoric… particularly evident in the run-up to the EU referendum”.
Responding to the revelation, Nigel Farage said the Church of England should “reflect on their name and purpose”.
He told this website: “The left-wing Archbishop is bad enough, but these revelations show a stunning naivety. The document seems to suggest that British identity, rights and values are a bad thing. They are exactly what the church should be endorsing.”
The Church of England’s role in religious conversions of asylum seekers was sparked after the suspect of the Clapham Alkali attack was revealed to have converted to Christianity in order to avoid deportation back to Afghanistan.
Abdul Ezedi, who remains on the run from the Met Police, was reportedly rejected from an asylum claim twice before a priest vouched for his conversion to Christianity and he was nodded through on the third time of asking.
The conversion meant Mr Ezedi was able to claim it was too dangerous for him to be deported back to his home country.
Since the manhunt for Mr Ezedi began, senior Tories have slammed the Church of England, with former immigration minister Robert Jenrick arguing “naive” vicars are helping asylum seekers game the system.
Tory MPs reacted with fury to the official guidance, with former minister David Jones warning: “The Church should understand that naivety is not a virtue, but a potentially lethal weakness”.
“The Church should start by asking why lifelong adherents to other religions should suddenly decide to convert just at the moment when their removal from the UK is imminent. That’s what most sensible people would do.”
Red Wall MP Jonathan Gullis blasted the “dreadful leadership” of Justin Welby, which has “seen congregations decline and victims of child sexual abuse go for too long without justice”.
“Instead, ‘Woke Welby’ has enabled political activists within the clergy to help illegal economic migrants, predominantly young single men, secure the right to permanently remain in the UK with this so called ‘guidance’.
“What this proves to the British public is that lefty lawyers, Sir Keir Starmer, attention-seeking celebrities, and the Church of England are happy to leave our borders wide open – undermining our national security, and helping the smuggling gangs continue their disgusting trade of human life.”