The Complexity of Survival: Asylum Seekers, Resilience and Religion

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A growing number of asylum seekers with a Muslim background choose
to get baptized as Christians while their application is being treated. The
practice of conversion among asylum seekers from the Middle East is
charged with critique and suspicion from government authorities and
the general public. The former Danish Minister for Ecclesiastical Affairs,
Bertel Haarder, has suggested that pastors should refrain from baptizing
migrants who are in the process of applying for asylum. The Minister’s
advice is problematic for a number of reasons: primarily, as it appears to
reduce conversion to a simple instrument for obtaining asylum. In this
article, we show how the recommendation by the Danish Minister for
Ecclesiastical Affairs ignores the complexity of motives involved in the
change of religious affiliation. By the aid of Bourdieu’s theory of social
capital, we demonstrate how conversion is also a way of existential survival in a situation of social liminality and psychological insecurity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFaith in the system? Religion in the (Danish) asylum system
EditorsMarie Juul Petersen, Steffen Bo Jensen
Number of pages12
PublisherAalborg Universitetsforlag
Publication dateNov 2019
Article number10
ISBN (Electronic)978-87-7210-271-9
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

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