Christians who have converted from Islam and want to remain in Austria because of the threat of persecution and death they would face if they returned their home countries are being forced to “prove” their conversions.
According to the Barnabas Fund, an international organization that works with persecuted Christians, they were “even being asked how many sacraments there were in the Free Churches in Austria.”
But the report called that “ridiculous,” since “there are five different Free Churches in Austria whose interpretations of the sacraments differ.”
“Converts are being asked increasingly difficult questions about the Trinity or the exact date on which the first woman was ordained a pastor in Austria, questions which 90 percent of Austrian protestants would not be able to answer,” said Karl Schiefermaier, a national leader of the Lutheran Church in Austria.
“This has now reached a stage which is most worrying,” he said. “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 baptized.”
According to Global Christian News, there were 859 asylum seekers who converted to Christianity in Austria in 2017. Among them, 650 joined the Catholic Church and 209 joined Protestant churches.
The Tablet, an international Catholic weekly, said that if converts “could not answer all the questions on their new religion, their applications for asylum were often rejected and they were accused of sham conversion in order to obtain asylum status.”
The Tablet said the converts are becoming active in churches, “including contributing readings in their own languages, such as in Farsi.”