The UK Citizenship Test

An American friend pointed me to The Official Practice Citizenship Test. Try taking it: it’s barking. Tell me if the most important tests of potential citizens are to know the percentage of Muslims in the UK to one decimal place, or the number of minors in the country to the nearest million? Exactly how does such knowledge make a candidate a better or more loyal citizen? Or do we just want a nation of civil service statisticians?

But then look at the kind of questions we ask of foreign nationals in other circumstances. A minister friend of mine used to represent Christian converts from Muslim states who had fled here and sought asylum on the very reasonable grounds that they feared persecution, even death, if they returned to their homelands. Understandably, the authorities wanted some kind of evidence that they had truly become Christians and were not using this as an excuse to live here.

So what questions would you ask someone in order to discern whether they were a Christian? Try this one: what is the traditional dinner Christians eat on Christmas Day?

And on their answer to that and similar questions, the Home Office decided the life and death fate of many people.

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