The Southern Baptist Convention’s lead religious freedom advocate has called on Secretary of State John Kerry to condemn the death sentence of a Sudanese Christian woman.
Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, urged forceful action from Kerry in a letter Tuesday (May 20) responding to a judgment against Meriam Ibrahim, who refused to renounce her Christian faith. A Sudanese judge in Khartoum sentenced Ibrahim, who has a 20-month-old son and is eight months pregnant, to be executed.
In his letter to Kerry, Moore encouraged him to denounce Ibrahim’s sentence as “cruel and inhumane, to demand her release, and to use the diplomatic influence of the State Department to advocate for this most fundamental human right, the freedom of religion and belief.”
Sudanese judge Abaas Al Khalifa confirmed Ibrahim’s death sentence for “apostasy” (leaving Islam) May 15, according to Morning Star News, which reports on the persecution of Christians globally. “The court has sentenced you to be hanged till you are dead,” Al Khalifa told Ibrahim after Islamist crowds shouted for the court to punish her. Al Khalifa had given her 15 days to recant upon announcing his original sentence April 30.
Ibrahim, whose first name is spelled Mariam in some reports, told Al Khalifa in court, “I am a Christian, and I have never been a Muslim.” Ibrahim was born to a Sudanese Muslim father who disappeared from her life when she was 6 years old and an Ethiopian mother who was Ethiopian Orthodox. Though her mother reared her as a Christian, Islamic law asserts she is Muslim by birth because her father was Muslim.
Al Khalifa also reinforced a second sentence originally announced April 30 — 100 lashes for adultery. Marriage to a Christian is considered illegal under the Islamic law known as sharia. Authorities reportedly plan to carry out the whipping, then the execution, after Ibrahim recovers from childbirth.
Moore told Kerry in his letter, “The use of state power to enforce belief of any religion — Islam, Christianity or otherwise — is outside the authority of any government. That such an arrangement culminates in the arrest, torture, and execution of an otherwise law-abiding pregnant woman is abhorrent and should be condemned outrightly by the leadership of the United States government.”
Moore also said, “As our own Baptist forebears were persecuted by civil authorities for defying state authority over religious matters, we must again reassert on behalf of [Ibrahim] that faith, by definition, cannot be coerced or legislated and that no person should be imprisoned or executed for religious belief.”
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SOURCE: Baptist Press