After an overnight flight from Denver, Christian singer Don Francisco arrived at London's Heathrow Airport intending to perform in an Easter music program in the English port town of Poole.

Instead, the 63-year-old American said, he was photographed, fingerprinted, and taken to a small detention room with a seatless toilet bolted to the wall.

Hours later, Francisco said, armed guards led him to a van parked on the tarmac, where he was ordered inside a cage and driven to a British Airways jet.

"They escorted me on board, where they handed the stewardess an envelope containing my passport, boarding passes, and other paperwork," he said.

Just like that, Francisco was sent back home. His crime: listing his occupation as "gospel singer" and failing to obtain a religious worker visa—something he had never needed on previous visits to the country.

Over the last year, the United Kingdom has phased in a points-based immigration system designed to regulate the labor market and help prevent terrorism.

However, the new system has thrown Christian workers and organizations into confusion because the U.K. Border Agency has not taken into account the complexity of religious activities, the Evangelical Alliance said.

The London-based advocacy group for the nation's estimated two million evangelicals cites a number of cases in which groups or individuals were refused entry after traveling to the U.K. to speak or volunteer.

Alliance leaders have drawn up guidelines to help Christians navigate the system and posted them online (eauk.org).

"Some of the problems we have seen are due to churches not being fully aware of their new responsibilities, while on other occasions, immigration officials have wrongly banned people from the country because ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

May
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
Also in this Issue
Saying More Than We Can Say Subscriber Access Only
Why the arts matter even during a recession.
RecommendedRussia’s Plan to Ban Jehovah’s Witnesses Puts Evangelicals in a Tight Spot
Russia’s Plan to Ban Jehovah’s Witnesses Puts Evangelicals in a Tight Spot
Group gives Protestants competition for souls, but also an ally on religious freedom.
TrendingForgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Forgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Amid ISIS attacks, faithful response inspires Egyptian society.
Editor's PickThe March for Science Is Willing to Get Political. But Will It Welcome Religion?
The March for Science Is Willing to Get Political. But Will It Welcome Religion?
How evangelical scientists square their place in the global movement.
Christianity Today
Customs Confusion
hide thisJune June

In the Magazine

June 2009

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.