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South Sudan Church calls to review separation of religion and the state

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February 5, 2013 (JUBA) - The church in South Sudan has called on the government to review the current policy and constitutional provision which stipulates the separation of the state from religion and introduce a better new approach.

In the resolutions passed on Sunday in Juba during a meeting called by the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan, Rev. Peter Gai Lual, with all the constitutional post-holders in Juba who are Presbyterians, the church criticized the policy which it said should not hold after the independence from the former Sudan.

The participants in the meeting included the Vice-President, ministers, deputy ministers, members of parliament and pastors.

The ruling SPLM called for a secular state during the war and that was provided for in the 2005 peace deal with Khartoum and consequently enshrined in the interim constitution of the country before and after the split in July 2011.

The church however argued that the idea of "separating the state from religion" was based on the fear that Khartoum wanted to make Islam the religion of the state as well as make Shariah law the basis for legislation in the whole country.

Now that South Sudan is an independent state from Khartoum, the church feels that the policy should be reviewed and the constitutional provision amended.

The resolutions acknowledge that "there is no state religion" but to "separate the state from religion" is not the best policy.

The Vice-President, Riek Machar, who is also member of the Presbyterian Church and attended the church meeting also shared the new idea and consented to the need for dialogue in order to review the policy.

Machar said the government through its relevant institutions including the constitutional review commission would dialogue with the church in general including representatives from other church denominations in South Sudan to look into the policy and come up with a better policy expression.

He further explained that the main concern of the SPLM-led government was to make sure that no religion shall be imposed on the people as the state religion, adding that this can however be addressed without necessarily separating the state from religion.

Hence, the expression that "there is no state religion" would address the concern, he said.

The general church in South Sudan is concerned that the government doesn’t support its programs or even assist in rebuilding the church’s infrastructures such as hospitals and schools which were destroyed during the war simply because the policy separates it from religion.

The country’s Vice-President acknowledged the difficulty the policy presents when the government tries to assist activities of the religious groups.

Three months ago the government however facilitated the movement of hundreds of South Sudanese Muslim pilgrims to Mecca in Saudi Arabia to visit the Islamic holy land.

(ST)

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Men sing outside the Presbyterian Church in Pibor before a church service, (...)
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  • 6 February 2013 06:50, by master

    what religin you have?
    kojoor

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    • 6 February 2013 07:33, by Mi diit

      That is a very good idea, church. Of course there should be no one state religion but the state should support the development activities of the church and mosques in order to come up and contribute to the overall development in the country. Khartoum’s religious fanatics are gone forever!!!

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      • 9 February 2013 06:18, by NgorKur Mayol Chier

        Indeed,I will be the first person to agree with the separation of church and state in the constitution of South Sudan.I personally agree the idea 100% because we don’t want our government to be ruling our country in religion favor as what Sudan did for decades. This must be stop before it happening again in South Sudan.We were only been fighting for the freedom and for religion ideology.

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      • 9 February 2013 06:19, by NgorKur Mayol Chier

        Indeed,I will be the first person to agree with the separation of church and state in the constitution of South Sudan.I personally agree the idea 100% because we don’t want our government to be ruling our country in religion favor as what Sudan did for decades. This must be stop before it happening again in South Sudan.We were only been fighting for the freedom and for religion ideology.

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    • 6 February 2013 11:58, by daniell

      If the South Sudan Church is call for a review which would necessarily separate state from religion which will bring a better approach to church goers then how come it says rss separted because the Northern goverment was partly imposing islam and sharia law? Is not contrary?The reason for South Sudan Church to demand the rss party spla/m to review constitution for a better approach is ambigue.

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      • 6 February 2013 17:10, by Mi diit

        Daniell,
        Reading the article, my humble understanding is that the church is not saying they want Christianity as the only religion for Republic of South Sudan. They don’t say they want ten commands as the basis of legislation in South Sudan. They just want to be part of the state (nation). In Khartoum islam and shariah were imposed on the country. See the big difference!!!

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  • 6 February 2013 07:19, by Jalaby

    That’s funny!!
    I think those people are following Sudan step by step, street by street and "Zanga Zanga"!!
    Khartoum said "No religion will be separated from state" and now they want to follow them!
    I think S Sudan government needs to follow the goal of LRA leader, Mr. Joseph Kony who wants to rule Uganda by "10 commandments"!! That’s so funny!!

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    • 6 February 2013 07:29, by Mi diit

      Jalaby,
      And we are saying "there is no state religion." Do you see the big difference? I think you don’t read English well. You are religious fanatics and we are moderates.

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      • 6 February 2013 08:28, by Young Nation

        South Sudan’s religious and Political leaders must be reminded that, the issue regarding the separation between Religion and State is a RED line that must not be crossed. Failure for us in our new Republic to recognize this reality would be a great disaster. I therefore urge Vice President Riek and some of the pastors to not temper with the politics of State & Religion separation.

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  • 6 February 2013 07:37, by Bol Pur

    I personally appreciate the step taken by Presbyterian Church asking for review of policy in South Sudan. I wanted to say there is no state without religion but religion cannot be imposed on others. If South Sudan must have religion some of malpractice and killing innocent people will cease. I no sometimes other people can misused religion in the state but we cannot afford to rule without God.

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  • 6 February 2013 07:41, by Jalaby

    Mi diit,
    You read English very well but don’t understand!!
    The Presbyterian Church wants to make the south as "Theocratic State" and returns back to middle age, dark time where the Church killed the scholars in the west, burned people alive if they just change their believe from Catholic to Protestant within Christianity itself

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    • 6 February 2013 07:49, by Jalaby

      let alone moving 2 different religion than Christianity
      Priests in the south couldn’t hide their fear of Islam expansion over the south because they know very well the majority of southerners are pagans (None Christians none Muslims) and Islam could reach out to them and they worked hard to separate the south from north to stop Islam from getting south even peacefully

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      • 6 February 2013 07:58, by Jalaby

        The church resolution:"there is no state religion" but to "separate the state from religion" is not the best policy.
        Well, who the Church is going to fool?! this is a clear mix between religion and state but the church is scared that the West accusing them of calling for Theocratic State despite they wish that to be the case in the south!!

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        • 6 February 2013 08:50, by 4Justice
          • 6 February 2013 15:02, by EES Kingmaker

            4Justice,
            Vetican never just only created Islam, Islam has been a borrwoing lot as it tried to survive. No separate Islamic culture does exist. Muslims borrowed other norms, traditions and cultural beliefs and amalgated them in what is known today as Islamic culture. That is why Islam lacks consistency in its relations with other cultures and religions. Hence Islam condones jealousy and violence.

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        • 6 February 2013 15:18, by EES Kingmaker

          Jalaby,
          Liberal-minded South Sudanese will be the last people to create Theocratic State. If we want, we will do it through parliaments and not through military coups. It will be sanctioned to the constitutional processes. South Sudan, theocracy is a far-fetched dream which will never come in our lifetime. It is a tyrant Government by hypocrites, for hypocrites who virtually hide behind religion.

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  • 6 February 2013 08:13, by 4Justice

    Christianity has nothing to do with Religion whatsoever. Christianity is faith and belief in Jesus Christ of Nazareth; the bible clearly states "Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6) without Jesus there is NO TRUTH NO WAY AND NO LIFE. So please stop associating Christianity with Religion, Satanism is also a religion, can you possibly lump christianity with Satanism as religion? ofcourse not.

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  • 6 February 2013 08:16, by Ommar Bashir

    Government is the one who has all rights to separate religion from politic or not. Who is the church to call government to review the law?

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    • 6 February 2013 19:37, by Hardball

      No Ommar, people are the one who have all rights to separate religion from government! There could be no government without people. People elect leaders to form the government.

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  • 6 February 2013 08:59, by wang

    In South Sudan, State and Religion needs each other in many different sectors, even they are separate. I have seen and heard President Salva Kiir Mayardit when things rush out in his hands calling for religious leaders to pray for peace in a region and encouraging them to works closely with its government. It is also a government obligation to support their programs and assist in rebuilding the c

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  • 6 February 2013 09:00, by wang

    It is also a government obligation to support their programs and assist in rebuilding the church’s infrastructures. I don’t belief religion is a real anyway---- you born, go to school, work and die when your time is comes that’s what I belief in-----

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  • 6 February 2013 10:18, by Makunon

    I think they need Minister for religions affairs in the next government reshuffling, so lobbing start in the office of Machar and next to Kiir, but Muslim should not be represented here in South Sudan whether in law or in the government

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  • 6 February 2013 11:49, by Padiet Deng Alony

    Four elements for the development of the state.
    - Intellectual= introduce positive politic and how to rule the nation
    - Soldiers= they liberated the nation
    - Merchants= help people get thier basic needs
    - Religious-man= preaches the nation how to live in hormany and love each other.

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    • 6 February 2013 12:03, by Padiet Deng Alony

      A state religion (also called an official religion, established church or state church) is a religious body or creed officially endorsed by the state. A state with an official religion, while not secular, is not necessarily a theocracy.
      The term state church is associated with Christianity, historically the state church of the Roman Empire, and is sometimes used to denote a specific modern natio

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      • 6 February 2013 12:05, by Padiet Deng Alony

        The term state church is associated with Christianity, historically the state church of the Roman Empire, and is sometimes used to denote a specific modern national branch of Christianity. Closely related to state churches are what sociologists call ecclesiae, though the two are slightly different.
        State religions are official or government-sanctioned establishments of a religion, but neither

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        • 6 February 2013 12:09, by Padiet Deng Alony

          does the state need be under the control of the church (as in a theocracy), nor is the state-sanctioned church necessarily under the control of the state.
          The institution of state-sponsored religious cults is ancient, reaching into the Ancient Near East and prehistory. The relation of religious cult and the state was discussed by Varro, under the term of theologia civilis ("civic theology"). Th

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          • 6 February 2013 12:10, by Padiet Deng Alony

            e first state-sponsored Christian church was the Armenian Apostolic Church, established in 301 AD.[1]

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    • 6 February 2013 12:27, by Nuer Empire

      Islamic Religion is the core derivation of all forms of violents and must not be considered.We should Islamic religion and their believers as the very lost satanic and mads,terrorism,looting and as fungy religion in the world.Jesus is the way,truth and the life.Without me(Jesus)no one shall enter to the kingdom of God! Mohamed has got lost after deceiving many of his Arabs followers that there was

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      • 6 February 2013 12:31, by Nuer Empire

        enough food in sand dune desert of middle East.They went to a desert and found the water drum empty with no food or water! He then decided to run with a speedy horse that he was called by God(Copying Jesus’ styles the true son of God)untill he died in the desert there! The croud had also decieved themselves that he was taken by god not God.
        The Nuer Empire

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      • 6 February 2013 18:24, by ViVa Sudan

        it is our part as a muslim to acknowledge you with the right message of Almighty God. so i believe u can read english but don’t ignore this message just go on & learn .
        http://knowingallah.com/index.php/en/articles/article/661

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