Channel 4 have just screened an edition of their Dispatches documentary series investigating threats made against muslim converts to Christianity in the UK. More information is available on their Dispatches web site and, at the time of writing, the show is available for Windows users to watch online through their 4OD service.
There were several issues raised by this programme which I believe need an urgent and prayerful response. I’m not yet sure what that response should be in every case, so I’ll leave it to your discretion; but do please share any thoughts below or on the I promise to pray for the city of Bradford every day Facebook group.
- Firstly, the main narrative of the show followed a Bradford family who converted to Christianity and faced five years of harassment, death threats and destruction of property before finally being forced to move away from the city. The family’s church in Manningham, which was shown but not named, had also suffered intimidation and vandalism as a result. According to the show, there are 3000 former Muslims in the UK who face such persecution.
- Secondly, the show made pointed references to the problem of bogus asylum seekers seeking to bolster their case by claiming a fraudulent conversion to Christianity.
- The middle third of show was given over to highlighting the dangers of American Evangelicals who come over to the UK and stir up trouble by deliberately targeting children, divorced women and other vulnerable Muslims for evangelisation. Chief among their organisations of concern was a group called Caleb, who’s UK base is in Bradford. The fact that Caleb Project Europe ceased to be two years ago seemed only to deepen the presenter’s suspicion, particularly given that several of the old Caleb team remained in the UK, working independently and continuing to rent the same office space. Caleb’s operations in Bradford were portrayed as shadowy and somewhat sinister. The presenter managed to elicit a condemnation from the Bishop of Rochester, who’d never heard of Caleb. No mention was made of whether they’d attempted to contact the Bishop of Bradford, or any of the many other reputable groups with whom Caleb have partnered.
- Finally—and this wasn’t mentioned in the documentary—there is another, entirely unrelated, Christian project in Bradford that goes by the name of Caleb, who run addiction recovery programmes. There’s a lot of potential for confusion here.