Christians in the predominantly Muslim country of Sudan continue to suffer intense persecution, with the government engaging in a systematic destruction of churches, a conservative law group has warned.
The American Center for Law and Justice said Tuesday that its contacts on the ground in Sudan have affirmed that government officials continue to order the destruction of Christian churches, further marginalizing the minority Christian population.
At least three churches were destroyed in October, according to the ACLJ, including the Sudanese Church of Christ building in Omdurman, the Lutheran Church of Sudan building in Karari, and another Lutheran Church of Sudan building in Gadaref, East Sudan.
"Despite the findings of this report and the recommendations of numerous international bodies that the government of Sudan cease the targeting and demolition of Christian churches, our sources on the ground in Sudan report that religious freedom continues to deteriorate throughout Sudan," the ACLJ said.
The government of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is known for persecuting Christians under its strict interpretation of Shariah law. Beside churches, Christian pastors have also been targeted, with two Presbyterian pastors being charged with the death penalty earlier this year, making international news.
Tut Kony, pastor of the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church, said back in May that "almost all pastors" have faced persecution under the government of Sudan.
"We have been stoned and beaten. This is their habit to pull down the Church. We are not surprised. This is the way they deal with the Church," Kony said at the time.
Other famous cases include the jailing of Christian mother Mariam Ibrahim, who was initially sentenced to death for marrying a Christian man, but following heavy international pressure was released, after which she moved to the United States.
Al-Bashir has been charged with war crimes by the International Criminal Court for his involvement in the ongoing war in Darfur, which has led to over 300,000 deaths since 2003.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom also detailed the high level of religious persecution in Sudan with the release of its 2015 report.
The report accused Sudan's government of engaging in "systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of freedom of religion or belief."
"These violations are the result of President Bashir's policies of Islamization and Arabization," the report added.
"The government of Sudan prosecutes persons accused of apostasy, imposes a restrictive interpretation of Shari'ah (Islamic law) and applies corresponding hudood punishments on Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and harasses the country's Christian community."
The ACLJ added that Americans should think about those who are being persecuted, especially during Thanksgiving week.
"As we gather around our tables this week and give thanks to our Lord, we must not forget our brothers and sisters in Sudan who no longer have a place to worship," the law group said.
"We must continue to raise the plight of persecuted Christians in Sudan throughout the international community. We must not rest until the government of Sudan lives up to their international obligations to protect the fundamental freedoms of all people of faith in Sudan," it added.