U.S. churches join international protests over attacks on Christians in Sudan
National Council of Churches statement on the situation in the Sudan
The National Council of Churches has issued strong words of support for a condemnation by international ecumenical councils of attacks on Christians and churches in Sudan.
“Our member communions stand in solidarity with sisters and brothers whose lives and property are threatened, especially in countries where Christians are a minority faith group,” said Clare J. Chapman, NCC Interim General Secretary.
“We urge Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to join the international community in insisting that the government of Sudan respect freedom of religion and protect Christians and all religious minorities in Suda n,” Chapman said.
The NCC statement follows a statement issued Tuesday by the staff heads of the World Council of Churches and the All Africa Council of Churches.
The joint statement by the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC general secretary, and Rev. Dr André Karamaga, AACC general secretary, expressed “grave concern over the increasing incidents of attacks on Christians and destruction of church property in Sudan.”
In particular, the councils condemned the April 21 destruction of the Sudan Evangelical Presbyterian Church Bible School and burning of its books including Bibles.
“It is worrying to note that the incident, which took place in Gerief West in Khartoum, happened while policemen stood by but did nothing,” the leaders said.
“We have also learned with disbelief that on Monday 23rd April security forces took over the premises of the Sudan Council of Churches (SCC) and Sudan Aid in Nyala, Darfur. We call for the immediate withdrawal of security officials from the SCC office and for the release of the vehicles and bikes that the security forces confiscated.”
Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, NCC Associate General Secretary, Faith & Order and Interfaith Relations, said U.S. concerns about attacks on Christians in Sudan “extend across the interfaith community and beyond. People of all faiths and good conscience join in our condemnation of these attacks and call on the Sudanese authorities to assure the protection of Christians and other minorities in the country.”
Kireopoulos said, “We renew our call for the international community to help end the ongoing tensions caused by the Sudanese government throughout the country, including Darfur, and in the region, such as in SouthSudan. “
Kireopoulos is a member of the board of United to End Genocide, a merger of the Save Darfur Coalition and the Genocide Intervention Network. He was chair of the Save Darfur Coalition from 2009 to 2012.
Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for shared ecumenical witness among Christians in the United States. The NCC’s 37 member communions — from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches — include 40 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.