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Sudan Says No More New Churches

(UPDATED) A year on, government reaffirms ban on new churches.
Sudan Says No More New Churches MIKE NELSON/EPA
St. Matthew's Cathedral in Khartoum

Update (July 17, 2014): The Sudanese religious affairs minister on July 12 confirmed a national freeze on new church buildings in place since last April.

Government officials argued that the majority of Christians had left Sudan for South Sudan and the remaining Christians do not need more buildings, reports World Watch Monitor.

Meanwhile, Sudanese authorities have demolished several churches in recent months, including the 600-member Sudanese Church of Christ in Khartoum. The secretary-general of the Sudan Council of Churches told the BBC that the country's Christian population is growing and they need more churches.

In addition, many Sudanese church leaders are South Sudanese, making it difficult for them to lead churches because they are now seen as illegal immigrants. Some say they have been detained because of their South Sudanese travel documents.

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Citing stagnant church attendance and an increasing number of abandoned buildings, the Sudanese government has announced that it no longer will issue licenses to Christian churches.

Following the secession of South Sudan in 2011, churches in Khartoum and other northern cities have seen attendance drop as many worshipers have migrated south (not all by choice). As a result, Sudan's minister of Guidance and Endowments, Al-Fatih Taj El-sir, says "there will be no need for new churches as the existing ones can accommodate worshipers."

But Christian Solidarity Worldwide says the freedom to worship in Sudan is under attack, reporting "at least 55 Christians linked to the Evangelical Church in Khartoum were detained without charge" in February alone.

CT previously has reported on anti-Christian backlash in Sudan, even though the president has pledged to guarantee religious freedom. CT also noted how Christians in South Sudan model a "different kind of hope."

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Related Topics:Africa; Religious Freedom
Posted:April 19, 2013 at 6:33AM
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Sudan Says No More New Churches