Baptists respond to claims about Clapham attacker's conversion

Baptists Together has refused to confirm whether the conversion claim of Clapham attacker, Abdul Ezedi, was endorsed by a Baptist priest. 

The suggestion was made in a Daily Mail report quoting a government source as saying that the priest's testimony was crucial in the decision of an immigration tribunal to grant Ezedi asylum after having been twice refused. 

Ezedi is the sole suspect in last week's acid attack on a woman and two children in the Clapham area of south London and has been on the run since.  

Baptists Together said it could not comment on claims that Ezedi converted in a Baptist church because of the ongoing police investigation but said that its churches would continue to "welcome the stranger". 

"We are fully aware of the questions being asked of our churches surrounding Abdul Shokoor Ezedi and broader queries around supporting asylum seekers," it said. 

"One of the most consistent and explicit teachings in the Bible is to 'welcome the stranger'. In recognition of this, Baptist churches around the UK and across the world have always, and will always, adopt a posture of welcome and compassion to those fleeing war, persecution, famine and the consequences of climate change, irrespective of any intention to convert to Christianity."

The denomination went on to say that "due care" is taken with all expressions of interest in becoming Christian.

The statement added: "Whenever anyone, asylum seeker or otherwise, explores Christian faith in a Baptist church, due care will be taken to ensure those wanting to profess Christian faith understand the deep commitment they are making and specifically the need to turn away from wrongdoing and seek to follow Christ in his ways of love," the spokesperson said. 

"Welcoming those in need, having ears to hear their stories of the past, extending an invitation to journey alongside them into their future, and sharing the Christian faith to all who are interested in hearing it, are central practices to the identity of the Christian church.

"We will continue to offer support to our local churches through our regional associations and are praying for all those affected by the terrible events in Clapham."