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Refugee Board Criticized for Testing Religious Knowledge

Canadian federal judge says a religious refugee’s knowledge “cannot be equated to faith.”

Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) is under fire once again for its treatment of applicants for religious refugee status.

Haixhin Zhang applied for refugee protection in 2008 after coming to Canada from China the year before on a traveler's visa. He claimed he was first introduced to Christianity in China in 2005; he first joined a church while he was in Canada.

At Zhang's hearing, IRB adjudicator Leonard Favreau ruled Zhang joined a church in Canada to support a fraudulent refugee claim because Zhang only knew the names of two of Jesus' apostles, two of the gospels, and one prayer—the Lord's Prayer, which he recited incorrectly.

Federal judge Douglas Campbell recently ruled the IRB should abandon its policy of testing the religious knowledge of applicants like Zhang. Campbell called the policy "fundamentally flawed" and sent Zhang's case back to the IRB to be reviewed by another adjudicator.

"First, religious knowledge cannot be equated to faith," Campbell said at the hearing. ...

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