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15 May, 2017 10:02

Holy Trinity! Sweden in hot water for giving Christian asylum seekers Bible quizzes

Holy Trinity! Sweden in hot water for giving Christian asylum seekers Bible quizzes

Sweden’s Migration Agency is in hot water for giving Bible knowledge quizzes to Christian asylum seekers, local media reports. Some social media users are saying it is ‘absurd and ridiculous’ to require such tests in mostly secular Sweden.

A few questions on the quiz cited by Swedish SVT broadcaster included:

“How many parts are there in the New Testament?” “Can you tell us about the Trinity? “What is the difference between the Orthodox and the Protestant church?” “Can you tell us about the Letter to the Romans?” 

Some of the asylum seekers became Christians in their home country and fled because of persecution, while others just wanted to leave Islam, SVT reports. Religious persecution can be a reason for applying for asylum in Sweden.

One lawyer representing asylum seekers, Serpil Güngör, told the broadcaster that it was a terrible idea to test the asylum seekers in this way.

“I think it’s terrible. I have repeatedly had to interrupt administrators who ask these questions because they are not relevant and are far too complicated,” Güngör said.

Some representatives of the Church of Sweden were hesitant to support the idea of administering detailed ‘Christianity quizzes.’

“Migration Board tests the knowledge of Christianity, not faith,” a deacon of a Swedish church that has been working with Christian asylum seekers for years told SVT on condition of anonymity.

The deacon’s church has already begun writing a handbook of facts on Christianity to prepare asylum seekers for their interviews with the Migration Agency, SVT said.

Hans-Erik Nordin, Bishop of the Diocese of Strängnäs in southeastern Sweden, was curious about how much the Migration Agency itself actually knows about religion.

“What knowledge does the Migration Agency have about religion and faith?” he wondered, as cited by Dagen newspaper. 

Sweden’s migration agency has defended the Christianity-oriented quizzes for migrants, however.

READ MORE: Sweden extends border controls amid ‘still unclear situation’ with asylum seekers

“It is a reasonable demand that the asylum applicant should show some knowledge of the Bible – this should come naturally, and isn’t something you need to study,” Carl Bexelius, deputy legal director at the Swedish Migration Agency, said.

Refugees Welcome Sweden, a group working for open migration policies in Sweden, slammed the questionnaires on Twitter.

“Migration Board re-introduces ‘catechism doctrine’. They are testing just Bible knowledge, not faith,” it said.

Some people on social media called the questionnaire on Bible knowledge “absurd and ridiculous.”

“The questions you ask are ridiculous. [They] show the depth of ignorance about Christianity,” one person wrote, addressing the Migration Agency.

“Religion should be voluntary, not forced,” “Welcome to a secular country,” said sarcastic comments from other people on Twitter.

Over 7,000 people have applied for asylum since the beginning of 2017, according to the Swedish Migration Agency.  

Sweden has received over 260,000 asylum applications since 2014, at least 160,000 of which were submitted in 2015, the agency added