‘Assembly-Line Baptism’: Judicial discussions of ‘free churches’ in German and Austrian asylum hearings
Nicole Hoellerer and Nick Gill
We explore judges’ approaches to asylum court appeals based on the issue of conversion from Islam to Christianity. Our court ethnography in Germany and Austria in 2018 and 2019 provides an insight into how such claims are discussed during appeals. At the time, they were increasingly common, especially concerning Iranians and Afghans involved in ‘free churches’ (e.g. Evangelical, Pentecostal or charismatic). We show how rumours, congregations’ reputations and assumptions about baptism and what genuine conversions entail are discussed. These factors can not only influence appellants’ cases, but reveal church–state tensions and some of the intractable challenges of refugee status determination.
Keywords: assessments of churches, asylum court hearings, asylum adjudication, church–state relations, religious conversion, judicial assessments
Hoellerer, Nicole and Gill, Nick (2021) ‘Assembly-Line Baptism’: Judicial discussions of ‘free churches’ in German and Austrian asylum hearings. Journal of Legal Anthropology, 5 (2), 1 – 29.
This is an open access paper, available here.