Canada

Catholic trivia test for refugee deemed unfair

A federal court has overturned a decision by the Immigration and Refugee Board because it was based on testing a claimant's religious faith through the use of trivia questions.
Worshippers attend a mass at the Liuhe Catholic Church on the outskirts of Qingxu county, in northern China's Shanxi province. (Jason Lee/Reuters)

A federal court has overturned a decision by the Immigration and Refugee Board because it was based on testing a claimant’s religious faith through the use of trivia questions.

Chinese refugee claimant Mao Qin Wang, who came toToronto in 2008, said he fled to Canada for fear of religious persecution.

The 26-year-old insists he is a devout Roman Catholic, but in January he failed a test that required proof through precise knowledge, such as the name of Jesus' grandmother.

The National Post reported that, among other botched responses, the man knew Mary was the mother of Jesus but did not know Anne was his grandmother's name. He also fell short when explaining some nuances of the faith.

"The claimant was asked whether the consecrated wafer or the bread represents the body of Jesus or whether it is the body of Jesus," stated the IRB decision by adjudicator Rose Andrachuck, quoted by the National Post.

"The claimant responded that it represented the body of Jesus, which is incorrect."

Andrachuck was testing for an understanding of "transubstantiation," which holds that during communion the bread is transformed into the actual body of Jesus even though it retains the appearance of bread.

But fraud among those claiming religious persecution cannot be detected in this way, the Federal Court of Canada ruled on Monday, especially when the test-taker is a relatively recent convert.

Justice Michel Beaudry argued that Wang faced "an unreasonably high standard of religious knowledge," and overturned Andrachuck's decision. 

Wang will be permitted another chance to prove his faith in a new hearing with a different adjudicator.