‘Absurd’ questions to prove they are Christian in Austria asylum cases
Christian convert refugees seeking asylum in Austria are being asked “absurdly difficult” questions on theology and Church doctrine by authorities in order to “prove” their conversion, say Austrian church leaders.
Converts have been asked complex questions about the Trinity, been asked to name the date on which the first woman was ordained in Austria and how many sacraments Austrian Free Churches observe; the five different Free Church branches in Austria all have different interpretations. Converts who failed to answer the questions often face their claims for asylum being turned down.
Karl Schiefermaier, a member of the Protestant High Consistory, stated, “This has now reached a stage which is most worrying. The Church and not the State must decide whether or not a baptism is legitimate. Every pastor has the pastoral responsibility to examine and confirm the genuineness of an adult’s wish to be baptised.”
A total of 209 convert asylum seekers were baptised into the Austrian Protestant Church in 2017, while 650 converted to Catholicism. Church leaders claim they are among a move of God which is reinvigorating church congregations across Europe.