X Close

Don’t blame the Church for terrorism We are not complicit in 'gaming' the system

Emad al-Swealmeen in Liverpool Cathedral


November 18, 2021   4 mins

Below its report criticising the Church of England for naively baptising and confirming an Iraqi asylum seeker who wasn’t what he seemed, yesterday’s Daily Telegraph offered us another headline, suggesting a level of deception infinitely worse than false conversion: “Bomber took cake decorating course”.

How appalling! How dare you pipe out ganache to pretend you are one of us! What will these dastardly immigrants think of next?

I don’t mean to belittle what happened in Liverpool on Sunday. Emad al-Swealmeen, an Iraqi asylum seeker, died when an improvised bomb went off in the back of a taxi. He was allegedly on his way to the Remembrance service at Liverpool’s vast Cathedral, the place where he was prepared for confirmation, photographed smiling beside the Bishop. Had he succeeded in exploding his home-made bomb as worshippers made their way from the remembrance of deaths past, he would have caused carnage. This was wickedness itself.

But the fall-out from this incident has laid the blame at the very church he was seeking to blow up. Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, is reportedly appalled that the Church of England is naively complicit in ‘gaming’ the immigration system, converting hundreds of asylum seekers as a way of helping them avoid deportation to countries where being a Christian could be a death sentence. But that simply isn’t true.

My church in South London welcomes asylum seekers. Until lockdown, we hosted a weekly surgery where asylum seekers, mostly from Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, could find support, including legal advice. I have been to court several times to speak on behalf of people in my congregation whose legal status here is uncertain. I have visited members of my congregation held in detention centres. And yes, I am unapologetically ‘on their side’.

But to conclude from this that we are naive is like concluding that a defending barrister is gullible for presenting the best case for their client before the judge. The immigration authorities have their role and I have mine. It is not my job to do their work for them.

This is not naivety. Pretty much every day, I have someone on my doorstep telling me a tale. They have to go somewhere to see a dying mother; can I give them ÂŁ20 for the train fare? Can I sign this document to say that they are churchgoers? These are the easy ones. Many stories are dark and frightening. Some are threatening. Posh middle-class people tell me stories too. Like many clergy, I have a bullshit detector honed by decades of such daily encounters.

Sometimes the story is true. But even if I think it is not, I still look for a way to help them. After all, something very real has driven them to ring a stranger’s door and ask for help. My job is to juggle suspicion with compassion. To be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” was Jesus’s commission. And if I do find a way to help, it doesn’t mean I believe them. It’s because someone asked me.

So good on Elizabeth and Malcolm Hitchcott, the Christian couple who took al-Swealmeen into their home, and provided him with food and shelter. They were not suckers or liberal do-gooders. Jesus was not a sucker for sharing his table with the man who would betray Him to death. The Hitchcotts are heroes, models of Christian compassion. It is a part of the Christian faith that in the cosmic battle of good against evil, kindness will win the day. Indeed, this is the message at the very heart of the Christian story: faith is about exposure to risk and death. There is no such thing as risk-free Christianity.

“Christians are more renowned for their bake sales and the ferocity of their whist drives than for their eagerness to commit mass murder,” wrote Tom Harris, former Labour MP, this week. But he misunderstands where Christianity fits into Sunday’s attack. If the question raised by this incident is the nature of true believing, then look to the Hitchcotts. They embody it.

Was Al-Swealmeen himself pretending to be a Christian? For the sake of argument, let’s assume he was. But tell me: how can his sincerity or lack of it be tested? He studied the Bible. He went to church. He asked to be baptised and confirmed. What am I supposed to be looking for to confirm whether he means it or not? Eyes too close together? A certain hesitancy of speech? Shall I hook up my confirmation class to a lie detector test? “I have no desire to make windows into men’s souls” said Elizabeth I. Quite right too.

But Priti Patel is not interested in such matters. Here is a telling comparison. Earlier this year, struggling for votes before the Knesset elections, the then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised the spectre of “false conversions” to Judaism, hinting that migrant workers from Africa might overrun Israel, using conversion to gain citizenship. This followed a High Court ruling that those who had converted to Judaism through the Reform and Conservative movements should be recognised as Jews and thus entitled to Israeli citizenship. What we heard from Netanyahu is the same spiel now offered by Patel: conversion is a way of avoiding border control. In both cases, it’s not about religion at all. It’s a political line designed to appeal to their political base.

This forms part of a broader double-think concerning religion and immigration that often takes place on the Right. On the one hand, conservatives tend to value Christianity because they regard it as in some way constitutive — at least historically — of who we are as English, and of the West in general. Christianity is a part of our cultural identity. Thus, for instance, the Right might argue they are protecting Christianity by insisting upon more stringent immigration policies. Sometimes, this particular use of Christianity bleeds over into a subtle racist code for ‘not Muslim’. In recent years, cultural Christianity has become a part of Right-wing identity politics. Fake Christianity comes in many forms.

But when this sort of Christianity as culture bumps into the real thing — such as that of Elizabeth and Malcom Hitchcott — they run a mile from it. If the response to Sunday’s attack has exposed one thing, it’s that the Right wants the religion of choral evensong and of the kindly vicar’s village fete — not all that dodgy stuff about loving your enemies or turning the other cheek.


Giles Fraser is a journalist, broadcaster and Vicar of St Anne’s, Kew.

giles_fraser

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

102 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
2 years ago

I cannot help but feel that the church has been complicit in the trail of exploitation and suffering that benefits all the wrong people and rewards the criminal, the greedy and the naive. Every pull factor encourages the criminal trade in human trafficking and illegal immigration, the funds of which are often reinvested in perpetuating the cycle misery and suffering which drives it.

Those who arrive at these shores are disproportionately the young, the fit and the relatively wealthy for their circumstances. They have used these advantages to push to the front of the queue, trampling those more in need of help, leaving the old, the vulnerable and the sick, those most in need of our help behind. For the cost of processing, housing and supporting a single asylum seeker in the west, we could do far more to help those left behind in the camps. Migrants who abuse the system and those who support them, are taking food out of the mouths of those in need to give to the strong and call it a virtue.

It is the easy choice to welcome the illegal immigrant not the moral one. The moral one would be break the chain of suffering, exploitation and greed which runs from the people smugglers in the refugee camps of the world to upstanding members of society in the west, who hold its other end. But it is more profitable both in financial and social capital to do the opposite.

It is by a happy coincidence that those most willing to help, are those for whom mass immigration has been a financial boon, seeing their property prices rise and their labour costs fall. It is also of strange coincidence, that those who’s communities broken up and economic life degraded, by supporting these uninvited guests, are those who are least sympathetic to the migrants plight, though it is much easier to dismiss them all as bigots. There may be close to 1 million people in the UK illegally, the burden of which will not fall on the most welcoming.

I can see no case for any action which helps sustain the current degrading and inhuman system of illegal migration and asylum. But then it would look bad for someone to turn those who exploit the system away. It has always been easier to be seen to do good, than to actually do it, I believe someone long ago once commented on that.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matthew Powell
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
2 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

They are also facilitating the continuance in power of autocratic or kleptocratic regimes- mass migration removes young angry men from these countries to Europe.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

It’s hardly surprising vicars and bishops have fellow-feeling for migrants who pretend to be Christian to get free accommodation and money .Less to do with Christ being a ‘refugee’ and more that many of them are doing exactly the same themselves .
Actually it may be the bomber was one of the very few sincere believers . When he was reconverted to Islam he probably felt he had to blot out his apostasy blowing himself and others up in the place where he had become an infidel.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago

“I have been to court several times to speak on behalf of people in my congregation whose legal status here is uncertain.”
Their legal status is, in most cases, not uncertain: They are illegal immigrants. Oh and they are not christians, so I wonder why they turn up at your church.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Funny how no Muslims who already have British passports feel the need to come along to his services and convert .
Why the discrepancy ?
He knows they’re almost all insincere . It just may be the few who are genuine feel so guilty about betraying the prophet that they end up trying to be suicide bombers .

The church should have to pay the public costs of the migrants who get permission to stay through the C of E ‘s collusion .

Peter Francis
Peter Francis
2 years ago

You say “Like many clergy, I have a bullshit detector honed by decades of such daily encounters.” So why is it that your clerical colleagues are so bad at identifying and rooting out clergy who are child abusers? Or is it only you who has this “honed” detector?

Last edited 2 years ago by Peter Francis
Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

Religious people have these honed detectors? Just spilt my coffee.

Peter Francis
Peter Francis
2 years ago
Reply to  Terence Fitch

I am a churchgoer and the clergy that I have known do not strike me as being sufficiently sceptical or sufficiently inquisitorial.
Sorry about your coffee.

Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

I worked in the Criminal justice system all my life and cannot reliably detct con artist of any kind. Sometimes I am wrong .

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Alison Tyler

Thank you Alison. The sort of realistic humility churchmen often talk about but (as with most of us) display less frequently.

Peter Francis
Peter Francis
2 years ago
Reply to  Alison Tyler

After my mother-in-law did jury service, she said “I knew he was guilty as soon as he walked into the court room.”

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

He has a great bullshit detector , but he usually switches it off because , like Gloriana , he doesn’t want to ‘make windows into men’s souls’
Unless he’s presented with what he calls a ‘cultural Christian’ , ie a conservative .

Last edited 2 years ago by Alan Osband
Peter LR
Peter LR
2 years ago

I doubt if anyone disagreed with taking destitute refugees from the camps who could be processed there. It is very different when being asked to accept 85+% young males who have thrown away all forms of identification and paid handsomely to enter illegally. That is not mentioned in the article.
Legal representation is mandated in proceedings and financed by taxpayer’s legal aid. There seems no problem in finding barristers to do that work in preventing deportation. What ‘help’ is a Vicar giving other than character affirmation which is the thing in question in the article?
The article does not deny that deliberate subterfuge is used to avoid legal process such as ‘conversion’ or claiming to belong to a persecuted sexual minority. This is to use Human Rights laws to avoid an illegal entry.
The matter is not whether evil-intentioned people use illegal entry to plot terrorism, although the usual mantra that one death is one too many is not mentioned when migration is involved, but whether democratically agreed laws are to be upheld and not evaded, either by loopholes, sleaze or subterfuge.

Last edited 2 years ago by Peter LR
Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

My church in South London welcomes asylum seekers…I have been to court several times to speak on behalf of people in my congregation

I’m guessing they know this and that’s exactly why they’re “members” of your congregation.

something very real has driven them to ring a stranger’s door 

That would be greed in many cases. R@pists can say the same thing.

how can his sincerity or lack of it be tested?

I’d get a Jesuit or two onto it. They are pretty intellectually rigorous. When did you ever hear of a gullible Jesuit?

What we heard from Netanyahu is the same spiel now offered by Patel: conversion is a way of avoiding border control. 

You haven’t shown how either of them is wrong, but you then go on to impute to them the same low motives you decline to entertain among the asylum seekers who rock up at your church. You’re sooooo transparent. Remind me where Jesus tells you to hate conservatives.

the Right might argue they are protecting Christianity by insisting upon more stringent immigration policies.

They might also stick cricket bats up their bottoms, pour treacle over their heads and go to fancy dress parties as a toffee apple. They don’t, though, do they? Who’s more likely not to be what they seem: a rightish politician suggesting that unfettered culturally-incompatible immigration is bad, or a 35-year-old Syrian man claiming to be a child so he can enter the country and disappear?

all that dodgy stuff about loving your enemies

You sure don’t love yours, do you? Just the ones you don’t realise are your enemies.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jon Redman
Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

They do probably quite like him , because he colludes with them (he’s their favourite infidel ) but he does so to piss off his political , ideological and religious enemies : the people he refers to as cultural Christians and Mrs Patel .
He could always quietly instruct them in Christian teaching while waiting till their right to stay comes through before any public conversion in front of cameras . That way he’d be sure to know they were sincere and they wouldn’t be at risk if they had to return home .
However for some reason neither he nor they are interested in that

Edward Jones
Edward Jones
2 years ago

a subtle racist code for ‘not Muslim‘” Another misuse of that very useful word ‘racist’. If people are suspicious of Muslims are we not justified? Are not Muslims allowed by their own teachings to ‘convert’ for the purposes of jihad? Did not al-Swealmeen die a Muslim?

Gordon Black
Gordon Black
2 years ago
Reply to  Edward Jones

Yes, “TAKIYYA” is a tenet of sharia law which permits dishonesty for the purposes of jihad.

Chris Mochan
Chris Mochan
2 years ago

Like many clergy, I have a bullshit detector honed by decades of such daily encounters.

Much like everyone thinking they are an above average driver, everyone believes they have an excellent bullshit detector. Con artists make a fortune out of such attitudes.

Samuel Gee
Samuel Gee
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Mochan

Indeed. There is some research on it.
https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20210401-how-to-tell-when-someone-is-lying
and I remember but cannot cite a study in the UK where police officers scored no higher than 1st year undergrads at spotting liars. The difference was that the police officers were supremely confident about their judgements. “Years of experience doncha know.”

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Samuel Gee

Eye contact is a good example . I have always had a tendency to avoid eye contact , while truth telling is a trait I’m pretty much lumbered with ( with exceptions I’m sure)
But people seem to think eye contact and avoidance thereof are sure signs of truth telling and it’s opposite . As every conman knows

Ann Ceely
Ann Ceely
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Mochan

Unfortunately, your journalism shows that you do not have a bullshit detector at all!

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Ann Ceely

Not one pointing inwards anyway

Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
2 years ago

I feel bad for well intentioned Christian clergy and Christians but I see the same thing play out in Ireland, though the people who do it often claim to be atheists – middle aged white women at protests calling for “open borders” and “no human is illegal”. I’m Catholic, my faith teaches me to be strong, have boundaries, look after myself and those close to me first. That’s the true understanding of Christianity. Jesus did not teach people to be meek codependent weirdos and put themselves and others at risk. I wonder sometimes is that people haven’t confronted their own internal darkness – their capability for lying, manipulation, and violence, that means they can’t see this possibility in others. If I were a Muslim immigrant , fearful of being deported to somewhere I didn’t want to go back to, of course I’m going to say or do anything that would enable me to stay. Christians would be better focusing on the drivers of mass migration – endless war, unfair trade agreements and so on. By continuing to support migration, they are enabling it, like a codependent wife cleaning up after her alcoholic husband. They are also complicit in removing young angry men from countries that are autocratic, thus reducing the chances of those countries become more fair and equal. Mass migration serves the interests of the elite.

Last edited 2 years ago by Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 years ago

I’m Irish-Italian Catholic too. I feel exactly the same as you in that I have never felt any kinship to that milque-toast version of Christianity you so aptly described here.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

Jesus did not teach people to be meek codependent weirdos and put themselves and others at risk. 

Ah, you see, that’s where you and Giles part company.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

Converting to Judaism is a lengthy and difficult process
 maybe notes should be taken.

Mirax Path
Mirax Path
2 years ago

Yes, the Rabbi is duty bound to refuse thrice. I can respect that. I feel the empty pews in the UK are responsible for the clergy’s overly naive welcome of its new congregants.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Mirax Path

Are you saying that the reason for the decline in church attendance is because there are immigrants in the congregations?

Mirax Path
Mirax Path
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

No.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
2 years ago

Welby must be very proud to have an Anglican terrorist at last. That’s real diversity! A thanksgiving seems in order. Giles can provide the order of service. St. Swealmeen’s Day perhaps.

Last edited 2 years ago by Martin Smith
Phil Rees
Phil Rees
2 years ago

Judge for yourself the reception your article provokes.
“My church in South London welcomes asylum seekers. Until lockdown, we hosted a weekly surgery where asylum seekers, mostly from Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, could find support, including legal advice. I have been to court several times to speak on behalf of people in my congregation whose legal status here is uncertain. I have visited members of my congregation held in detention centres. And yes, I am unapologetically ‘on their side’.”
For ‘asylum seekers’ read illegal immigrants. You are part of the problem and accusations of naivety were wholly justified and possibly even on the mild side, falling short of ‘complicit’.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago

By their fruits ye shall know them. But by then I suppose it’s too late; perhaps a little more effort might have gone some way to discovering these eventual fruits.

The article says that he was on his way to bomb a Remembrance Day service, if that is so then I’m not sure what Christian agenda that is serving, but it seems to serve an Islamist one. I’m sorry, but if someone suddenly “sees the light” when arriving in the UK or on the verge of deportation I think one should always question that person’s sincerity – or is it just a b*ms on seats exercise? I’m not arguing against being charitable to immigrants or even people who are using (or abusing) the asylum process, but one must remember that often they are breaking the law. and if one believes that the law is morally wrong than there are methods to campaign to change it.

Last edited 2 years ago by Linda Hutchinson
natalie mckenna
natalie mckenna
2 years ago

Well, at this point we have been told that the taxi booking was to the Women’s Hospital not the cathedral. Which offers abortions among its services.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago

I’m just going by this mornings news, which did say the cathedral was his goal, I must admit when I first heard about this abortions is what came to my mind, but then I dismissed it as there is no precedent in the UK for an actual bombing (I could be wrong here, though, but I can’t remember one).

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

I dismissed it as there is no precedent in the UK for an actual bombing

If you’re an omnihating fascist theocrat, you just need time to get around to everything, that’s all.

Kathleen Stern
Kathleen Stern
2 years ago

In addition,this terrorist decided to target a hospital for pregnant women and children when he gave up on the church service. This echoes what has been happening in Afghanistan where women and girls have been the chosen targets,or Pakistan where Christian church services have been attacked. Wilful denial of the dangers is enabling them in my view.

Andrew Hammond
Andrew Hammond
2 years ago

This seems to be an article intent on denying an initially true statement, rather than arguing a truly felt and perhaps more cogent case.
“The immigration authorities have their role and I have mine. It is not my job to do their work for them.”
along with much of the rest of the narrative seems to confirm that, within a moral context defined by the author, they will seek to represent the asylum seeker to the possible detriment of the regulatory authorities and those who support the regulations.
From that it is no great leap to conclude that the author is saying that ‘if it gives me the greater personal comfort, I will game the system’
That is not, to my mind, an outrageous statement. It may cause some people to quite reasonably regard you as unreliable or even malicious, but that is their choice, and the burden that lays upon you is for you to assume or cast off as you feel appropriate.
I should be most surprised if the immigration regulations did not lead to perverse, obtuse and unconscionable outcomes in many individual cases. These are regulations framed to create a consistent standard for myriad individual circumstances. To frame regulations that did not lead to perversity with some frequency would be a challenge for even the most talented amongst us.
It would seem more honest to state
“There are occasions when I will game the system, because I have made a decision based on my evaluation of such information as has been presented to me. If my decision proves to be wrong, then I accept I should answer for it, but I have sufficient confidence or arrogance in my judgement, view it as you will, to proceed on that basis.”
I do not see it as healthy to deny that you are behaving as described when you might actually believe it is the correct course of action to follow, especially bearing in mind on occasions you will probably be right. If you feel you would wish to avoid any sense of guilt, should matters have unexpected and adverse consequences then that is probably best addressed at an early stage.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Hammond

I disagree with you; it is a great leap!

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago

‘We are not complicit in gaming the system….. ‘ but you are so desperate for new converts that you might overlook an obvious motivation.

Clara B
Clara B
2 years ago

What we heard from Netanyahu is the same spiel now offered by Patel: conversion is a way of avoiding border control.
I suspect a significant number of illegal migrants convert for exactly this reason, and this is true of both Judaism and Christianity. You haven’t actually presented any evidence that this is not the case. Many people, after all, ‘discover’ God when their child is approaching 11 (and, once they’ve secured a school place for their offspring, are ne’er seen again in their local church). If I were an asylum seeker from a benighted nation, I’d probably convert as well.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  Clara B

But may I say something in defence of those ‘discovering God’ to benefit their children; they were probably baptised into the church, which is the established church of the nation, they may have married in a church, their children will be exposed to years of religious teaching (I assume it still includes something about Christianity), they may have a Christian funeral service, and their children may do likewise.
They may not be devout, but if these things didn’t happen, the C of E would disappear very fast.

Last edited 2 years ago by Colin Elliott
Samuel Gee
Samuel Gee
2 years ago

It would be interesting to know the proportion of non-Christian asylum seekers whose applications to remain are granted who then seek to convert to Christianity as compared to the proportion of non-Christan asylum seekers whose application to remain is denied who then seek to convert.
That may tell us something. It may not. Does anyone have any figures on that?

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
2 years ago
Reply to  Samuel Gee

I saw some stats reported in the Telegraph. I can’t remember the percentage of failed non-Christian asylum seekers who converted but I do remember the percentage of successful non-Christian asylum seekers* who did so because it was so startling: 0%.
*The percentage might have been for non-Christian immigrants as a whole – I can’t remember. The stat doesn’t of course mean that no one converted (which I find hard to believe), but the number was statistically insignificant.

Last edited 2 years ago by Judy Englander
Adrian Maxwell
Adrian Maxwell
2 years ago

Giles, as always, you write from the heart. I’m always interested in what you say, not least because God and religion continue to be such interesting subjects. Here you do not disappoint, in the sense you say exactly what one would have expected. You were never going to accept that the christian church was exploited, used and entered in a planned subterfuge. The life you describe Emad al-Swealmeen pursued is akin to the paths taken by those who undertook flying lessons in Florida. Do you close your mind to that with your cake baking aside? We dont know the full facts yet, with the MSM and naive politicians bending over themselves to downplay the ‘incident’. But if it was just the detonator going off, as seen in the video clip, one wonders about the size and complexity of the bomb itself, the social infrastructure and the planning that got us to this point. 

The church here is merely a cipher for a greater malaise. We are a soft society with institutions through which threat and harm can easily enter, the Fishmonger’s Hall attack is a prime example. The Hitchcotts are merely incidental. Whilst it is an encomium too far to call them ‘heroes’ they should not be condemned. The problem remains that a liberal society will always be at risk unless and until the avenues and soft institutions become less soft. Even the christian church may have to consider that one day. 

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  Adrian Maxwell

The cynic in me says that the Hictcotts were suckered, Khan’s hosts at Fishmonger’s Hall were suckered, his prison was suckered, Giles Fraser is probably being suckered to judge by his choice of words, the Border Force, the RNLI, it goes on and on, and not just to do with immigrants. We’re world-beating suckers.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

I think we are all slightly missing the point . Giles Fraser doesn’t mind if his attempts to convert are exploited by jihadists seeking the right to stay . He wants to be like Christ , and suffer at the hands of sinful humanity . Or rather he wants to cause our society to do that , to embrace our enemies , turn the other cheek
He despises what he calls cultural Christianity . For people like him Christianity is more like a sado-masochistic cult

Surely these tendencies have always been there in Christianity . Flagellants whipping one another through the streets , martyred archbishops found to be wearing hair shirts,covered in lice .

Our own Justin Welby went to Amritsar so he could fling himself in the dust at the site of a colonial period ‘massacre’ If the country falls into the hands of a persecuting Muslim majority , either the love and meekness of the Christian faithful will convert them by example or they will suffer like their saviour on the cross in trying .

For Giles Fraser probably either of these results are just fine

Last edited 2 years ago by Alan Osband
Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago
Reply to  Adrian Maxwell

Looking at the video it looks like the detonator may have caused the HE to deflagrate, hence the fire, there was definitely no detonation.

Richard Webster
Richard Webster
2 years ago

I was waiting for you to write an article on this subject and I’m glad to see that you have done so.
I have read the letters of clergy up and down the land who have written in support of asylum seekers who have converted to Christianity. In many cases the letters show great rigour on the part of the Church in assessing someone’s honesty and desire to convert. I have no doubt that some are not genuine. They know if they can show they are now a Christian to the authorities in Iran for instance, by posting the details of the conversion to Facebook, complete with photographs of their conversion, then this will strengthen their argument that they face death as an apostate if returned. How do you weed the genuine from the false? It’s all but impossible. I can say from experience that many tribunal judges often do NOT believe a particular conversion is genuine and refuse asylum or any leave to remain in the UK. If that person is subsequently not removed, then that is yet another failure of the Home Office – not the Church.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago

If they post their conversion on Facebook without having leave to remain. , then how is it the Home Office’s fault if they are persecuted as apostates when they go home .
How about Giles Fraser teaches them about Christianity if they are interested but refuses to give evidence in their application to remain . No public conversion with photographs , unless the applicant truly wants to embrace martyrdom on his return !

Since in practice no one will be interested in converting on these terms I think we can conclude ALL the applicants for conversion are false .But then Giles Fraser knew that already

Last edited 2 years ago by Alan Osband
Bernie Wilcox
Bernie Wilcox
2 years ago

But Giles. You simply have no idea of the CofE in Liverpool encouraged asylum seekers to convert to Christianity so as to help their case as was indicated. All you know is what you do.
On another matter it was seem that the CofE in Liverpool did a pretty poor job of converting him because he continued to attend the mosque.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago

The theory of Christianity says that you must help people in need. The theory says that you help them without discussing their political views.

In practice it is difficult to find a time in history when Christianity was not swayed by politics. It is well documented that during WW1 the church services in Britain spoke out against Germans and urged our young men to go out to fight the enemy. The same and opposite was true in Germany.

It is just naive and plain silly to believe that the theories of Christianity are not related to the politics of the moment.

Edward Jones
Edward Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

The Good Samaritan bound the victim’s wounds and helped him along his way. He did not try to convert him.

Ann Ceely
Ann Ceely
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

NO! Christianity says the best way to help, is to pray for the “person-in-need” and wait for God’s action.
In no way does God want us to act “as if we are God”.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago
Reply to  Ann Ceely

Disagree absolutely. Helping someone is not “acting like God” and the Bible (New Testament) teachings of Jesus urges us to help our fellow man, which is what the parable of the Good Samaratan is all about.

George Stone
George Stone
2 years ago

It is not helping people but killing people that is acting like god is it not?

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
2 years ago
Reply to  Ann Ceely

Good grief, what denomination is that?

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

It is not any denomination; it is all of them because the parable is in the Bible. Of course none of the denominations have any perfect Christians which is the reason for Jesus’ substitutionary death!

Clive Mitchell
Clive Mitchell
2 years ago
Reply to  Ann Ceely

Have you read the Bible or been to Church? Look up the the parable of the Good Samaritan or the requirements surrounding gleaning.

Ann Ceely
Ann Ceely
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

No!
You do not need to help folk who say they are in need. They may need to find salvation in ways other than expected! Leave it to God!

God’s answers to prayers are frequently inexplicable, with the penitent finding out very much later how they were helped.

God isn’t a thing anyone can understand!

Hence, all pastors should do, is pray with the supplicant.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Ann Ceely

Do you think the Samaritan should have simply stopped and prayed with the injured man?

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

It would have been a total hoot if he had.

stephen archer
stephen archer
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

In the current situation, the problem lies in identifying those most in need. I suspect 95-99% of the migrants have no grounds for asylum but if the process in coming to this conclusion takes 5-6 years to pan out what has to change to bring the asylum system under control? The real candidates for asylum are those stuck in the warring countries or in the refugee camps in neighbouring countries.The Christian conversion strategy is not confined to the UK, it’s happened in Sweden and other countries too and I’ve read it’s being recommended as an alternative when the migrants are leaving the middle east.
Sweden was inundated with 42,000 young afghan males in 2015 claiming asylum, most presenting themselves as minors despite many having facial hair. The school attendance laws were changed to allow them to complete their schooling (they hadn’t even started!) before being subject to rejection on grounds of not meeting asylum conditions. Around 7,000 of these are currently awaiting deportation without any prospect of this being actioned in practice. If Sweden had instead taken in 42,000 young afghan women who already before the Afghanistan collapse were subject to persecution this would have made a lot more sense in humanitarian terms.

Clive Mitchell
Clive Mitchell
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

There is no theories in Christianity. There are commandments and requirements. A large part of these commandments are about love and what our relationships should be with both our neighbours and God. There is no theory of God, in Christianity he just IS.

A theory doesn’t tell you what you do, but tries to explain known (although potentially disputed) facts.

The explanation you give in your first paragraph is a complete misunderstanding.

Ann Ceely
Ann Ceely
2 years ago

Anyone who tries to claim asylum with no documentation, no proof of journey (other than paid money to a “people trafficker”) and cannot show a legitimate reason why not, should be denied.
Simple as that!
So why, Giles, weren’t you suspicious?
Anyone who tries to claim asylum with no documentation, no proof of journey (other than paid money to a “people trafficker”) and cannot show a legitimate reason why not, should be denied.
Simple as that!
So why, Giles, weren’t you suspicious?
As a Commentator below writes:-
“It is the easy choice to welcome the illegal immigrant not the moral one. The moral one would be break the chain of suffering, exploitation and greed which runs from the people smugglers in the refugee camps of the world to upstanding members of society in the west, who hold its other end. But it is more profitable both in financial and social capital to do the opposite.”

Last edited 2 years ago by Ann Ceely
Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
2 years ago

Giles, if the asylum seekers you are helping are illegals you must ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I think there should be laws governing who can come to this country?
  2. If so, do I think those laws, duly enacted in Parliament, should be enforced?
  3. If not, why not? and
  4. Am I helping illegals to jump the queue to the disadvantage of people who are patiently playing by the rules?
Belinda Shaw
Belinda Shaw
2 years ago

I am more concerned at the irresponsible behaviour of the Evangelical Christians who may have made this man’s mental health problems worse. A young Muslim, brought up in a belief system that does not allow for conversion away from Islam, ever, is going to be filled with self-loathing when he converts to another religion, knowing that his family and original community will despise him as an apostate. How does the Church of England counsel and protect such “converts” against the loneliness and mental anguish that follows? Do you consider the dangers? Or do you just pat yourselves on the back for gaining another “customer”?

George Stone
George Stone
2 years ago
Reply to  Belinda Shaw

Of course, as was mentioned earlier, the church just wants bums on seats to make it appear as if the clergy are spouting something worthwhile.

David Bell
David Bell
2 years ago
Reply to  Belinda Shaw

He sought redemption to his moslem faith and community by attempting to blow up kufars in their hospital or church.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Belinda Shaw

And could not the church teach them about Christianity without an official conversion ceremony for them to photograph and put on Facebook?
After all if they have to return to their country they wouldn’t wish to cause them problems would they ?

GA Woolley
GA Woolley
2 years ago

‘Asylum seekers’ mostly from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria; all Muslims, then. Giles, do your ‘interfaith meetings’ ever ask the Islamic reps about the open declaration that Judaism and Christianity have been superseded by Islam, and must therefore submit or face a ‘painful doom’? And that Muslims must ‘fight until all are for Allaaah’? And that all are told to ‘say and do whatever is necessary to get close enough to our enemies to destroy them’. There’s absolutely no doubt what their agenda is – they make it plain enough – so your bullcrap detector needs a wee bit of recalibration.

Ann Ceely
Ann Ceely
2 years ago

So, Giles, you are one of the folk who abet potential bombers!

After all, you must be aware that they’re likely to feel like committing suicide when both their possible countries have rejected them. And so angry, that they’ll take people with them to ‘heaven’.
That’s tantamount to setting off the bomb yourself.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ann Ceely
Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Ann Ceely

He just doesn’t care . There were Christian who thought the Huns and the Mongols were the ‘scourge of God ‘ sent to punish lax Christians for their sins .
Provided you die repentant ( and loving your neighbour and providing sandwiches for your newly arrived Islamist neighbour ) it doesn’t matter if you die in a bomb blast .

Peter Shaw
Peter Shaw
2 years ago

I dont blame the Church for terrorism. I do blame it for the lack of Christian belief among its clergy.

David Uzzaman
David Uzzaman
2 years ago

Giles is right. Christians are required as a integral part of their belief system to give anyone the benefit of the doubt. If a chap claims to have been saved by JC they can hardly deny his affirmation. However knowing that we should treat any statements by Christians in support of their new converts as dubious. Migrants make many claims to support their applications to remain. Some claim to be Gay, others members of opposition groups and some find a sudden religious conversion. Scepticism about all of this claims should be a starting point. The truth is that many of these migrants while claiming to be fleeing their homelands book holidays back to them as soon as they have established their status.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  David Uzzaman

Christians are required as a integral part of their belief system to give anyone the benefit of the doubt.

So when Christianity comes up against a religion that says it’s OK to lie to kuffars, it really only ends one way.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

The Church can’t control the asylum system , so surely his Christian duty is not to publicly convert someone who may fail his asylum application and have to return home .

John Vaccaro
John Vaccaro
2 years ago

One of the things I like about UnHerd is that my opinions and understanding is challenged and often refined through the course of reading an article. I’m minded to believe that these illegal migrants are attempting to game the system and that the church is one of the useful actors that support this. Mr Fraser makes a key point though – love thy neighbour as thyself is at the heart of Christian teaching so those that helped the Liverpool bomber were acting in good faith. Maybe we should really hold politicians to account for migration/asylum problems and not the church. I’d rather that than hearing more outrage and platitudes from Priti Patel, although the more Justin Welby gets involved in politics the more the clergy are judged on these outcomes.
Personally, I like the suggestion that all undocumented migrants should have their applications processed overseas. This removes the temptation to come to the UK illegally so should hit the people traffickers.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  John Vaccaro

those that helped the Liverpool bomber were acting in good faith

But their actions don’t occur in a vacuum. They rebound on others, and they should be more thoughtful, more reflective and more mindful of that.
It’s all very well Giles feeling great about himself because he speaks up for illegal immigrants. But it’s not all about whatever makes Giles feel good. Giles’ wellbeing and virtuous self-regard are not the alpha and the omega. It’s about the wider consequences of what he does.
And he assists illegal immigrants, who for all he knows are terrorists and criminals, to stay here. He doesn’t do this because they’re a blessing to the country. He doesn’t do it because it’s what the rest of us want. He does it because it’s what he wants. Because he feels good if he does this. It’s what he reckons God wants him to do.
And if they then rape or murder someone, well, at least Giles did the right thing by his rather dim and solipsistic lights. So that’s all right then.
The thing is, if what made me feel good to was blow individual illegal immigrants up, I’d be condemned as a criminal. But if what made me feel good was to assist them into this country, like Giles does, where they blow other people up, well, apparently that’s somehow different.
Only it’s not, of course.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago

Giles Fraser may or may not be naive but he is very misguided. He uses plenty of ‘dog whistle’ arguments of your own – ‘Right wing’, ‘appealing to their political base’. He glibly passes in a sentence the fact that the beneficiary of this Christian largesse was to attempt a massacre of women and babies that might have made Herod look askance.

How appalling, politicians advocating what the public wants! This is an immigration and asylum system it, not, as it now is, wide open to massive abuse, with the active connivance of too many entirely unaccountable institutions. And we know beyond any real argument, that many of these incomers, whether for reasons of ideology or mental illness or a mixture of both, are bent on causing as much death and destruction as they can in our society.

The history of the Christian Church is of course complex, but it is certainly not some branch of socialist do-goodery and has always accepted ‘Caesar’s’ role in enforcing secular laws.

The denial going on about Islamist violence in our ‘liberal’ institutions is now quite extraordinary. with the BBC AND the Church desperate to pursue a narrative of almost non-existent right wing terror, wittering on about ‘hate speech’ on social media etc, rather than face up to the huge threat posed by Islamist extremism.

Giles wants a tough minded response to the claims of ‘right wing’ governments (how brave), but seems much less keen on the necessary tough minded response to known enemies of our society and, indeed, Christianity!

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew Fisher
Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

He smugly wants to make society embrace our enemies and ‘turn the other cheek’ whether we want to or not .If we end up living as second class citizens in an Islamic state , well , isn’t it better to be persecuted than a persecutor . We should thank him for giving us the chance to embrace martyrdom like our saviour. It’s a sicko project ,tinged with sanctimonious sadism .
Why can’t he introduce them to the Christian religion without giving them bogus endorsements and photo opportunities to post on Facebook ,so we’d supposedly be to blame if harm came to them on their return . If Muslim majority states are that evil to apostates and infidels he has a duty to help ensure the UK never gets near to becoming one .

Last edited 2 years ago by Alan Osband
Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago

May I ask you, Mr Fraser; if a UK national asks you to marry him or her to a non-UK national, and there are indications that it is for the sole reason of obtaining residency for the latter, would you do so?

Last edited 2 years ago by Colin Elliott
David Bell
David Bell
2 years ago

Giles, don’t you also have a duty to society at large to protect us from the continued presence of potentially dangerous fake converts? To say that “immigration have their role and I have mine” seems like you are shirking responsibility in that regard.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  David Bell

He is failing in his duty towards the asylum seekers by publicly converting them before they win there right to stay .
After all he admits they may have to return home , so he is putting converts in danger . As well as the rest of us .

Gary Beaumont
Gary Beaumont
2 years ago

I always understood clergy to be full of intelligent people. Do they really believe that so many Muslims would genuinely commit apostasy?

Nicholas Rowe
Nicholas Rowe
2 years ago

The only surprise is that the authorities haven’t described this incident in Liverpool as an act of Christian terrorism. There’s no need to dispute the genuineness of the alleged perpetrator’s conversion.
The presence of Christians in Britain is so miniscule and Christianity such a residue (the latter term being a description used by Rowan Williams) that the Church couldn’t be blamed for a cake at a church sale having a soggy bottom.
The author of this piece argues that fake Christianity has been used by the ‘Right’ simply as a cultural definition to distinguish others of another religion. That’s even though Christianity has affected custom, habit and law in Britain over many centuries in ways that haven’t occurred where Christianity is absent.
That argument is made even though everything that can be read in the gospels is steeped in one culture defining itself against another (‘salvation is from the Jews’). The woman who petitioned Jesus on behalf of her sick daughter was only helped by acknowledging her subordinate position as someone entirely different. In the part of the bible Jesus would have known, Amos reminds the Israelites that God had revealed Himself to them in such a way as to put every other people into the position of knowing nothing of Him.
Can someone on the ‘Right’, however that is defined, be a true Christian, or must they first convert culturally to whatever passes for liberalism? The author defines true believers in terms of the example of the kindness and generosity of Mr and Mrs Hitchcott (a kindness and generosity repudiated by an act of violence reminiscent of that of the child murderer in Birmingham). If someone who never attended church or read the Bible believed that Christ was their saviour, wouldn’t they be a true believer, even if they had never given a cent to a charity?
If any asylum seeker thinks that conversion to Christianity will help their claim, then that shows that they are totally ignorant about Britain in the 21st century. If the Equality Act 2010 was not enough to demonstrate that Britain is no longer a Christian country, the official confirmation came from the Head of the Church of England in her address read out at General Synod by her son. That address was a sad and pathetic acknowledgement of the end of that Church that has in many ways betrayed her Master, sometimes to seek accommodation with the demands of the state and the world.
By the way, how’s ‘Mike’s’ in Bournemouth getting on with their recruiting campaign? 

Toby Bray
Toby Bray
2 years ago

There is no “wisdom of serpents” in this article, that’s for sure.

natalie mckenna
natalie mckenna
2 years ago

Defending the church and criticising media outlets for mentioning that the bomber did cake decorating is an odd take on an apparent attempt to murder women and babies (at this point we are told that the taxi was booked to go to the Women’s Hospital, not the cathedral). It’s entirely inappropriate to synonymise ‘bomber’ and ‘immigrant’ whatever your intention.
It is true that you can’t see into a man’s heart to what they really feel and believe. But I am not sure about ‘naivety’: the Church of England seems to have a vested interest in applying the benefit of the doubt. It certainly seems that way when the legions of middle-class parents hit the pews when their kids enter year 6 (promptly disappearing once entry to a middle-class secondary school has been accomplished).
Jihadists of course have previous for deliberately slaughtering mothers and babies in central and south Asia. However, it should perhaps also be noted that some evangelical Christians (including the unfortunately-named “Evangelism Explosion”, for which Malcolm Hitchcott has been a GB Director) aren’t too keen on abortion. Christians who have attacked abortion clinics are a minuscule minority, and certainly don’t represent Christians or in any way implicate either EE or MH, the point is just that either faith could be a gateway to radicalisation.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago

You’re confusing two issues; I can quite believe that many Christians have fled from countries such as Iraq because their religion has put them in danger (although I doubt that we can house them all, if all want to come). No doubt some seek assistance for asylum, and turn to church people, but I also suspect that Priti Patel is correct in saying that some migrants convert falsely so as to find a more effective reason for asylum, and it is said that it has become standard advice given by traffickers to claim it, even before arriving.
Someone at the Liverpool cathedral admitted that although many had converted from Islam to Christianity while seeking asylum after arriving, he had yet to have a convert from someone who wasn’t seeking asylum.
Also, Fraser says that he doesn’t help them because he believes them, but because they ask! It is surely Patel’s job to resist, and I have little doubt experienced Home Office officials become wise to indications of insincerity (unless they receive a directive to assume that an asylum seeker is telling the truth).
And what has Netanyahu got to do with it?

Last edited 2 years ago by Colin Elliott
Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

Netanyahu’s a Jew and Giles is a lefty. I would have thought it’s obvious what he has to do with it.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

The C of E never asked for the Christian woman persecuted in Pakistan on blasphemy charges to be allowed to come here .

Yet they are hugely keen on helping Muslims stay here with fake conversions

I think I remember reading Giles is also from a Jewish background . Jews who happen to be lefties tend to be most lefty about immigration . Also they hate Netanyahu . I know this from my own background .

Last edited 2 years ago by Alan Osband
jola.wisniewska.reading
jola.wisniewska.reading
2 years ago

Is it true that after his confirmation Al-Swealmeen began attending a mosque and was doing that for a long time? Did anybody from his Christian congregation know about it? I think it should have set off alarm bells.

Dale Smith
Dale Smith
2 years ago

As another tradition would affirm, AMEN brother, Preach On!

Snake Oil Cat
Snake Oil Cat
2 years ago

QE1 had no desire to make windows into men’s souls. But the idiot’s lantern in your pocket is just that.

J N
J N
2 years ago

Well said:” There is no such thing as risk-free Christianity.”

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

My only question is just how rich and powerful the people controlling from the top the people-smuggling business are becoming. That is the criminals who organise passage and transport. Are they part of the illegal drugs trade? Of a terrorist organisation? What will they be capable of? If it is understood that a world without borders is definitely not a good idea, do the people-smuggling controllers bask in some kind of honour, knowing that they are deemed as one important element in the next best thing? For the world?

Margaret Donaldson
Margaret Donaldson
2 years ago

Thank you, Giles, for serving Jesus not Caesar. It takes courage and a thick skin. One could argue that God did have the last word on apostates and unbelievers as the hapless young man destroyed himself and thankfully no-one else. It is the duty of the Christian to help those asking for help and the duty of the government to stop illegal immigration. Seems to have got confused in some posts.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago

If he was sincere about helping these people he wouldn’t publicly convert them until their asylum application had been granted . After all they might have to return home . He’s indulging himself with left wing politics

Margaret Donaldson
Margaret Donaldson
2 years ago

Forgive me but I thought Giles himself was just trying to help people not convert them.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago

As if Christianity hasn’t always been cultural.
And why are you ‘making windows into men’s souls’ by dismissing the motives of the conservative Christians who oppose you ? Do you think you can appeal to ‘Gloriana’but they only have what you facetiously call their ‘base’ ?

Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
2 years ago

I think this is an excellent article that many people will misunderstand. Well said Rev Fraser.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian McKinney

Disagreeing is not necessarily misunderstanding

Clara B
Clara B
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian McKinney

I understand his arguments perfectly, but he hasn’t presented any evidence to support them and he just dismisses other people’s arguments as ‘spiel’. He does accept that conversions for migration reasons is a possibility, though. I can accept it’s hard to detect but, if I were a church leader, I’d do everything I could to weed it out (more research would be useful, for a start, to get a sense of the numbers).