“What colour is the Bible?”: asylum-seekers and immigration officers

Widespread concerns have been expressed about the way immigration officials interrogate asylum-seekers. In this guest post, Michael Ainsworth discusses the particular issue of refugees from Islamic states who claim asylum on grounds of conversion to Christianity.


Can it really be true, as reported, that this is one of the questions asked by immigration officials to test the faith of those who claim Christian conversion as part of their case for asylum? If so, what is the right answer? Perhaps it is ‘brown’, since most bibles provided by Gideons International in places of confinement, as well as hotels, are this colour – though some are red, and some are blue. We are not told: but if this is the extent of interrogators’ knowledge of the Christian faith, they know less than those they are questioning, and who may have come through a life-changing experience in which printed texts play little part – though a number I have met read their multi-coloured bibles assiduously, and sensibly (concentrating on the gospels, rather than starting with Genesis 1). Continue reading