Forty Bibby Stockholm asylum seekers ‘converting to Christianity’ | Politics | News

Forty asylum seekers on the Bibby Stockholm barge are converting to Christianity, according to a church elder.

The disclosure comes amid fears that migrants are changing their religion in order to stay in the UK.

Church elder and consultant David Rees said 40 asylum seekers on the giant vessel in Portland, Dorset, had converted or were in the process of becoming Christians.

He told the BBC‘s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme: “Local faith leaders have visited the barge and work with the council and the barge management in looking after these guys.”

Mr Rees said he was confident that they were undergoing genuine conversions.

He said: “Obviously, we need to make sure that they believe in the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit and repent of their sins and also they want to start a new life in the church.

“So those are the sort of questions that we ask them, and they have to give a public testimony, at their baptism, which they did in their native language, and it was translated into English.

“There were no qualms at all about the content of that testimony, which was clear and conclusive about their faith in Jesus Christ.”

It comes amid a row over the role of UK churches in supporting migrants converting to Christianity including the suspected Clapham chemical attacker Abdul Shokoor Ezedi.

It is understood the 35-year-old, who is believed to be from Afghanistan, had his asylum claims rejected twice by the Home Office.

He was reportedly permitted to stay in the country on his third attempt despite having being convicted of two sex offences after a priest vouched for him.

Tory MP Tim Loughton, who is a member of the home affairs committee, said he was concerned that Christian conversion had become a scam.

He told the Daily Telegraph: “We have got to have a much more rigorous scrutiny process for those claiming to have converted and the basis on which it would be dangerous to return them to their home countries.”

A government source said: “There are clearly general questions about whether it is really possible to credibly substantiate the validity of a religious conversion, particularly where that opinion might be a main defence and carry very important implications.”

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