Benny Hinn had been due to speak to thousands of Pentecostal Christians at the ExCel Centre in London
An American Christian preacher has been turned away from Britain, leaving thousands of people stranded at an evangelical rally in London this weekend.
Benny Hinn, from Texas, who draws large crowds to his Pentecostal revival rallies, was turned back at Stansted airport under new rules on visiting ministers of religion.
Many thousands of Pentecostal Christians travelled from across Britain and Europe and booked long weekend breaks in the capital’s hotels for his mission at the ExCeL exhibition centre in Docklands, East London, which had been due to begin on Thursday night.
They were left disappointed after Border Agency officials turned him back when he landed with his private jet because he had failed to obtain a “letter of sponsorship” from a church.
Instead, Mr Hinn flew on to Paris and tried to enter Britain at Luton airport but was again turned back. He was on his way back to France last night.
A Border Agency spokesman said: “Under the UK’s tough new points-based system, religious workers must obtain a valid certificate of sponsorship prior to arriving in the UK. These rules are designed to make sure that a legitimate sponsor is linked to each application to enter the UK for work purposes.
On her Articles of Faith blog The Times Religion Correspondent Ruth Gledhill, who filed the above story, explains:
The problem is that since he came last year, and many years previously, the Home Office has changed the rules on visiting ministers of religion.
He has fallen foul of tier five of the new points-based tier system for all visitors to Britain. It came into effect on 27 November 2008, but for him there was a turning back. No amount of prayers can get the UK Border Agency to change its mind when someone doesn’t have the right papers. He or a member of his staff should have read these rules before sending his private jet over here at great expense, and encouraging thousands of UK Pentecostals to book expensive weekend breaks in London hotels, all to no avail.
The new rules form part of the biggest overhaul to British immigration in 40 years. A points system was introduced, with one intention of combating extremism and prevent preachers of hate coming in. Tier Five, however, which has caught Benny Hinn, was introduced to stop ministers coming in as visitors and then making a quick buck by speaking at events or ‘working’ while they are here.
Ministers of all faiths now need a letter of sponsorship if they are to do religious work in Britain, even when, as at Excel, the event is free.
Regarding ‘making a quick buck,’ see:
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