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Sweden: Council of Churches, 13 workshops across the country for priests, pastors, deacons about converted people in the asylum process

In the last few months, the Swedish Council of Churches has been dealing with cases of migrants who change religion and “use conversion as a reason for asylum”, and has planned 13 workshops all over the country for priests, pastors and deacons about converted people in the asylum process. A training course was held instead in Solna for directors of the Christian agencies that work with immigrants (George Joseph, Caritas, Michael Williams, Church of Sweden, Jakob Svensson, Alliance Mission Sweden) and for about twenty directors and executives to help “understand these cases better”. The challenge that the authorities in charge of reviewing asylum applications must face is “understanding if someone’s belief is genuine”. What the Churches are asking for is that interviews be adequate and the staff in charge be trained in conducting investigations. Actually, one of the problems that has been encountered is that the enquirers are often “inexperienced in what the Christian faith means” or “what living as a Christian in one own country involves” or “what problems uneducated people may have in answering questions about the contents of the Christian faith”. The Churches are also asking to give more “weight and confidence” to the certificates that priests and pastors write to the authorities about converted people. Such discussion was also helpful to get a better insight into “the challenges that enquirers have to tackle in their job”.

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