Sudan permits Orthodox to build church
THE Orthodox Church in Sudan has been granted permission to build a church on land that it owns, after this was initially denied by the Urban Planning Department on the grounds that the land was authorised only for residential purposes, Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports. The charity’s founder, President Mervyn Thomas, welcomed “the reversal of the legally questionable and discriminatory decision to deny the Orthodox Church the right to build on its own land; however, we remain concerned by the lack of a clear process for the registration and construction of churches. . . We call for the formulation and implementation of clear and transparent processes for the construction and registration of places of worship, in order to ensure that all religious groups are treated equally.” The mainly Christian South Sudan broke away from the mainly Muslim Sudan one decade ago, in 2011 (News, 9 July).
Evangelicals document persecution in India
THREE murders are among the 145 incidents of persecution of Christians logged by the Religious Liberty Commission of the Evangelical Fellowship of India in its half-yearly report. Other episodes include assaults, arson, and vandalism, the destruction of churches, and “ostracization or social boycott in rural areas of families which had refused to renege on their Christian faith and had stood up to mobs and political leaders of the local majority community”. The report speaks of the involvement of radical religious groups, but also of political and police complicity. About one third of Indian states limit or prohibit religious conversion, and the report documents fears that the country is moving closer to a “nation-wide law to check evangelisation by ‘missionaries’, a term designed to impute western conspiracy to Christianise Dalits, Tribals and others in rural areas, small towns and urban slums”. Among its recommendations for the government are “stringent action under criminal law against all those who channel hate speech with the intention of inciting violence and hatred against the Christian community and other minority groups”. efionline.org
New international director for Tearfund
TEARFUND has appointed Veena O’Sullivan, leader of its regional programmes in Asia, as its new International Director. She first joined the charity in November 2000 as desk officer for India, and has led its work on HIV, responses in peace-building, and ending sexual and gender-based violence (News, 8 July 2016). Tearfund’s chief executive, Nigel Harris, praised her “love of Tearfund, commitment to integral mission, passion for the Church, and expertise shaped by 20 years within Tearfund”.