KHARTOUM – Life for Christians is beginning to change for the better in Sudan. Mission Box News published a story on March 20, 2020, reporting that Sudan’s Transitional Government had disbanded the “church councils” operating under the previous 30-year regime of dictator Omar al-Bashar.
The so-called “church councils” were fronts for persecuting Christians and demolishing Christian churches.
USCIRF Chairman Tony Perkins commented that the abolition of the “church councils” confirmed that the transitional government leadership “is sincere in its promise to … improve religious freedom conditions in the country.”
More Good News
Just a few days later, a member of the Transitional Military Council (TMC) revealed that the council is considering a bill that would repeal the current law that prescribes the death penalty for conviction of apostasy.
Article 126 of the Sudan Penal Code of 1991 says,
“Whoever is guilty of apostasy is invited to repent over a period to be determined by the tribunal. If he persists in his apostasy and was not recently converted to Islam, he will be put to death.”
An apostate in Muslim and other non-Christian religions is generally considered to be a member of that religious sect who has converted to Christianity.
According to the Barnabas Fund,
“Under classical sharia, Muslims who abandon their religion face severe punishment. According to all schools of sharia, mentally sane adult male apostates face the death penalty. The Maliki school of sharia, which has historically predominated in Sudan, also prescribes a death sentence for sane adult female apostates and holds that even inward unspoken apostasy is punishable. It allows just three days for repentance before the death sentence should be implemented.
“The action of accusing another Muslim of being an apostate – thereby rendering it legal to kill them – is known as ‘takfir.’ It was a principle developed in the seventh century by the Kharijite sect (who no longer exist) and has been adopted by modern-day Islamists as a way of justifying their violent attacks on more moderate Muslims whose theology or practice they disagree with.”
Even More Good News
The Sudan Tribune reported that the TMC member, Mohamed Hassan Arabi, also a member of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) Coordination Council, indicated that the proposed legislation would not merely repeal the existing law. It would replace it with a new ordinance that would make it illegal to accuse someone of apostasy. He said that the current “apostasy punishment puts freedom of opinion and belief at risk and undermines social peace and stability.”
The TMC interprets the Quran as recognizing the freedom of religion as a right for every individual based on Al-Baqarah, verse 26 and Al-Kahfi, verse 29.
“Let there be no compulsion in religion.” – Al-Baqarah, verse 256)
“Whoever so wishes, let him believe, and whoever so wishes, let him disbelieve.” – Al-Kahfi, verse 29
Missions Box News encourages followers of Christ to pray for more leaders in Sudan to rise up and advocate for religious freedom. Pray with thanksgiving for the changes that are being made and for believers to boldly share the Good News of the Gospel as they are allowed to do so.
To read more news on Religious Freedom on Missions Box, go here.
- Sudan Tribune, Sudan to repeal apostasy punishment
- Barnabas Fund, Religious freedom boost as Sudan reported to be proposing repeal of death penalty for apostasy but punishing false accusations
- Mission Network News, Sudan considers abolishing apostasy death sentence