Pastors face death sentence in Sudan

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Two Presbyterian pastors are facing a likely death penalty as their trial in the Republic of Sudan begins.

Christian church in Sudan. / Mohamed Nureldin Abdullah / Reuters

Christian church in Sudan. / Mohamed Nureldin Abdullah / Reuters

The Rev. Yat Michael and the Rev. Peter Yen Reith of the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church have been charged with espionage and blasphemy, though the church says they’re being persecuted for their Christian faith, like other pastors in the Muslim-dominated country. “This is not ‘something new’ for our church,” says the Rev. Tut Kony, pastor of the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church. “Almost all pastors have gone to jail under the government of Sudan.” …

David Curry, CEO of Open Doors USA, said that the pastors, who are both married and have children, may be facing the death penalty. Sudan finds itself in sixth place in Open Doors’ World Watch List of countries where Christians face the most persecution for their faith.

A number of Catholic and Protestant churches in Khartoum have been destroyed or confiscated by authorities since South Sudan announced its independence, while Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has promised to make Sudan a “fully Islamic state operating under the strictest interpretation of Sharia Law.” …

Curry noted that life is getting more difficult for Christians in Sudan. “This case in particular, we feel the charges are trumped up. These are just good citizens practicing their Christian faith, but the Sudanese government is using any tactic they can to push Christianity out of the market place and out of daily life, and unfortunately they are having some success,” he said.

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