THE HUMAN CATASTROPHE that is occurring in southern Sudan cries out for the compassion, prayer and action of the evangelical churches of America. Over the past 15 years, a staggering 1.9 million people have died from starvation or been killed in the civil war that has torn apart this country since 1956. But something even more sinister is occurring that calls for our strongest protest – religious persecution that includes genocide against and enslavement of Christians.

IN 1983 THE ARAB GOVERNMENT of northern Sudan instituted strict Islamic law in the entire country and included black Christians and other non-Muslims of the south in its decree. Then in 1992 a religious decree (fatwa) was ordered that gave justification to the extermination of non-Muslims. Since that time the United Nations and human rights groups have documented slavery – people taken as war booty to perform unpaid household labor and other tasks and in some cases to be used for sexual gratification. Scholars also describe the attacks against Christians as genocide, which includes policies by the Khartoum’s National Islamic Front to deem those who reject its radical Islamic ideology as “infidels” to be taken into slavery or slaughtered.

IN 1998 CONGRESS passed and President Clinton signed into law the International Religious Freedom Act. That Act requires the President to take action against countries that engage in a pattern of religious persecution. There are some sanctions that are already in place against Sudan which prohibit most companies from trading with Sudan. But there are exemptions which permit Sudan to receive millions of dollars from trade with the United States, particularly from the sale of gum arabic which is used in soft drinks and other products. These exemptions render the sanctions in place relatively meaningless. Congress therefore should enact more effective legislation limiting commercial dealing with Sudan.

THERE IS MUCH MORE THAT COULD BE DONE. For example, as pointed out by Senator Bill Frist and others, the United Nations now effectively cedes to the Sudanese government the right to decide when, if, and where food can be delivered to southern Sudan and the Nuba Mountains. Khartoums’s veto of relief deliveries in 1998 alone brought over 2.5 million people to the brink of starvation and took tens of thousands of lives. The U.S. could take steps modeled on the historic Berlin Airlift to override deliberate, famine-creating policies of the Sudan regime that have malnourished and killed millions.

IN LIGHT OF ALL THESE FACTS, the National Association of Evangelicals declares that for too long the world has been silent in the face of the starvation, enslavement, and genocide conducted by the Sudanese regime against its own people. Silence is unconscionable in the face of this continuing evil.

THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF EVANGELICALS also states its support in principle for the Student Campaign of Conscience for Sudan. This effort, which began last fall on American campuses, deserves support from our member universities, colleges, para-church organizations, and denominational ministries active in student ministries. We further request the evangelical community to speak and act on behalf of the suffering Sudanese people.

IN ADDITION TO HUMAN RIGHTS CONCERNS NAE acknowledges the efforts of World Relief, on its behalf, in supporting the Sudanese church (one of the fastest growing in the world today). Recognizing the daily threat of malnutrition, disease, and lack of development which confront the churches in Sudan, NAE pledges the support of its membership to work through its subsidiary in meeting the needs of our brothers and sisters and their communities in their darkest hour of need.