You can imagine some of the discussion on boats carrying illegal migrants over the Channel, can't you? "Look, my friend, things are tightening up over there, but if we go along to the nearest church once we've landed and 'convert' to Christianity, we'll have a much better chance of getting asylum!" Certainly, with reports that 40 of the 300 residents currently aboard the Bibby Stockholm now apparently seeking baptism, one has an unwelcome suspicion that this is exactly the type of conversation that has been taking place
And yes, I know this may sound overly cynical, but we perhaps do well to remember that 'taqiyya' or dissimulation to advance the cause of Islam, and/or to achieve one's own ends, is actively encouraged in Sharia law (see, for example, Surah 3:28, "Let believers not take for friends and allies infidels instead of believers. Whoever does this shall have no relationship left with Allah – unless you but guard yourselves against them, taking precautions.").
At the same time, genuine conversion from Islam is condemned as apostasy and in some places carries the death penalty – as we see all too frequently still carried out in Muslim countries today. Which means that no Muslim will renounce his or her faith lightly. But illegal migrants know that conversion, carrying with it the threat of dire retribution, will immeasurably help with the asylum application and, if Allah approves, well then ....
To our shame, many human rights activists, desperate to preserve the fantasy that so-called Western liberal democracy is humanity's supreme achievement, with which all must agree once they experience it for themselves, collude with this deceit. How could anyone not want to convert, they say! But this is not good enough, and as Christians we have a duty to uphold the truth. Yes, we are called to make disciples of all nations, but at the same time we are called to exercise discernment and caution, and we must defend our faith against covert attack. As exhorted in 1 John 4, we must not 'believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God...'
In the latest horrific case of the acid attack in Clapham, allegedly carried out by Abdul Ezedi, it's reported that Ezedi, a convicted sex offender here in the UK, was granted asylum only after purportedly converting to Christianity. Two prior appeals, we hear, had already failed, and the immigration tribunal judge on the last occasion was apparently persuaded only by the testimony of a local priest, who testified that Ezedi was 'wholly committed' to his new faith, and vouched 100 per cent for his conversion.
Yet friends of Ezedi, back in Newcastle, apparently described him as 'a good Muslim', who bought Halal meat and avoided alcohol, and intended at some point to return 'home' to find a suitable wife. One might justifiably feel a little confused here. Asylum, after all, is the granting of refuge to someone who cannot safely remain to their own country for fear of persecution, torture and death. Yet if the reports are true, Ezedi appears to have had no such fears, because on the testimony of his friends, he was intending to go back 'home' and find himself a wife, and then bring her back with him to enjoy life in the UK.
This, I fear, is the reality of many asylum claims today, that they are indeed bogus and are being deliberately bolstered by fake claims of conversion to Christianity. And I fear that many of those applying for asylum are really 'economic migrants' simply looking for a better life.
Certainly some are hostile to our values, and their aim is nothing less than to take over, replacing Western democracy with their own belief system, and ultimately imposing absolute control. The rise in anti-Semitism is indeed both testimony and warning of this, and must be resisted.
The conversion of a few migrants will doubtless be genuine and, where that is the case, such converts must be protected. But there must be evidence that they fully embrace Christian belief and practice, and we must not be gulled by those of dishonest or malign intent, whose goal is to abuse or destroy.
In the last sixty or so years, the face of society has changed radically – indeed, the world order has changed radically – and the perhaps unpalatable truth is that our culture, founded as it is upon Christian tradition and belief, is now under major attack. Which, increasingly, we seem unable to resist. We have been complacent, but let us not now be stupid.
Suella Braverman has accused churches of 'facilitating industrial-scale bogus asylum claims by their spurious claims to be converting migrants'. There has been pushback against this claim by the Church but I feel that, alas, she is right - and the problem runs deeper. Over the last century, the UK Church has abandoned its call to uphold Christian truth and defend the flock, preferring instead a half-baked mantra of multicultural, multifaith diversity, that, in the current climate, won't cause offence. This must change. The Church must recover its voice, and we must once again act to protect our borders and way of life.
Despite ideological pressure, the UK remains a Christian country. Our established Church remains the Church of England, and our traditions and laws are all founded on Christian belief. For our nation now to have any hope of preserving the values we hold dear, that faith must once again become reality, and we must have the courage to stand up for it. The Church must be faithful to its call and shine light into the darkness. It must uphold truth, and defend the people of God.
Rev Lynda Rose is founder of Voice for Justice UK, a group which works to uphold the moral values of the Bible in society.