The Times reports that American Christian preacher Benny Hinn has been refused entry into Britain, leaving thousands of people stranded at an evangelical rally in London at the 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.
Mr Hinn then 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.
Jill Masefield, who lives in Bristol, said that she and thousands of other followers had been left waiting for Mr Hinn to appear at the free preaching event, not knowing why he had not appeared. Instead, another pastor preached and requested donations of up to £1,000.
“He’s been coming here for years and years,” she said. “I think it is very unfair that they have blocked him now. It has cost me a fortune in hotel bills and I feel we have been led up the garden path. It is extremely unfair.”
The Benny Hinn “fire conference and miracle service” was scheduled to last three days. Among the “miracles” the Texan preacher performs are those in which he instructs participants to “let the bodies hit the floor”. The routine is featured on YouTube videos that show the devout falling down backwards, “slain in the spirit”.
Mr Hinn has visited before without any problem but the Home Office has changed the rules for ministers of religion. He fell foul of tier five of the new points-based system for all visitors to Britain, which came into effect last November. One of the aims of the new rules was to combat extremism and prevent teachers of religious hate entering the country.
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.
“These rules are applied objectively and clearly set out for travellers. People who arrive without the required documentation can be refused entry to the UK.”
If you need any immigration advice or help with Studying in the UK, Settlement, Citizenship, Sponsorship, extending Work Permits, Visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: