National Council of Churches condemns the death sentence of Sudanese woman sentenced to die for marrying a Christian

May 20, 2014

Officers of the National Council of Churches today condemned “in the strongest possible words” the death sentence in Sudan for a woman whose only crime was to marry a Christian man.

The sentence of Meriam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag is also reproached by the U.S. government, American Baptist Churches USA, and many other churches and religious groups.

Jim Winkler, President and General Secretary of the NCC, said the sentencing of Ishag for associating with Christians “is inhuman and an act of unspeakable religious ignorance and bigotry. It is a fundamental violation of the most basic religious precepts that declare God’s love and openness to all people.”

The Rev. A. Roy Medley, chair of the National Council of Churches governing board and general secretary of American Baptist Churches USA, said American Baptists “and all persons of faith and good will” join in the censure of the Sudan court.

A statement by American Baptists condemned the sentence “as a violation of the fundamental human right to religious liberty.”

Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, NCC associate general secretary, Faith & Order and Interfaith Relations, said, “All our interfaith partners and member communions stand in solidarity with Ms. Ishag. Until all persons are safe to express their faith anywhere, even in areas where they are in the minority, freedom of religion will remain an elusive ideal.”

National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the U.S,. strongly condemns the sentence and called on Sudan “to meet its obligations under international human rights law.”

Hayden said, “Since 1999, Sudan has been designated as a Country of Particular Concern for its ongoing, egregious, and systematic violations of religious freedom. We continue to urge Sudan to fulfill its constitutional promise of religious freedom, and to respect the fundamental freedoms and universal human rights of all its people.”