A Victory For Persecuted ChristiansCHUCK COLSON
On Oct. 21, an event of enormous importance, certainly symbolically, occurred at the White House. The president, I am thrilled to report, signed the Sudan Peace Act into law.
The radical Islamic government in Sudan has bombed, raped, murdered, and enslaved hundreds of thousands of Christians and animists of southern Sudan for nearly two decades. This bill is long overdue.
This bill — now a new law — is of huge symbolic significance for two reasons. First, in it the United States has, for the first time, taken a tough stand in defense of the persecuted Christians in Sudan. Every six months, our government will decide whether the Khartoum government is negotiating in good faith with the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement in the south, or if not, the United States will seek an embargo against Khartoum. There is also $100 million in humanitarian aid and the stipulation that the Secretary of State collect information about all war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity — like slavery — committed by either side in the conflict. This law creates good reasons for both sides to quit the violent civil war and seek peace.
But second, the Sudan Peace act is momentous because of the coalition that has come together to fight for the sanctity of life in Sudan. The persecuted Sudanese are largely Christians, and yet the coalition that pushed for the law was by no means all Christians. Passing the Sudan Peace Act is a grand example of how we are to bring Christian truth into the marketplace in this secular age.
You see, Christians got involved in this issue because of the very core belief of our worldview that life — all life — is sacred. Other groups that favor abortion obviously don’t agree with us. Yet in this case, we appeal to common standards of justice. Slavery, all sides believe, is wrong — so is the persecution of Blacks, which most of the Sudanese are. So we made a good case for legislative action, and it produced a victory for what is a central truth of our faith.
And this is a great illustration of how Christians can make an appealing case in the public square and can advance Christian beliefs when we do it.
William Wilberforce did precisely the same thing in his struggle against slavery. He was motivated by his biblical worldview, but he brought others along with him who saw the injustice of slavery. He not only got legislation passed, but made a tremendous witness for Christian views about human dignity. I don’t think that it is a coincidence that Wilberforce’s work against slavery coincided with the Wesleyan revivals in England.
The signing of the Sudan Peace Act into law is a moment of triumph to be savored. It’s also an example of how to present and persuade others of a Christian point of view in the public square — an example we would do well to emulate.
Charles Colson, “A Victory For Persecuted Christians.” BreakPoint Commentary (October 23, 2002).
Reprinted with permission of Breakpoint.
Copyright 2002, Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with the permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries, P.O. Box 17500, Washington, D.C. 20041-0500. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or distributed without the express written permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. “BreakPoint ®” and “Prison Fellowship Ministries ®” are registered trademarks of Prison Fellowship Ministries.
Charles Colson launched Prison Fellowship in 1976, following a seven-month prison sentence for Watergate-related crimes. Since then, Prison Fellowship has flourished into a U.S. ministry of 50,000 volunteers and has spread to more then 50 countries. Beyond his prison ministry, Colson is a Christian author, speaker, and commentator, who regularly confronts contemporary values from a biblically informed perspective. He has written 12 books, and his "BreakPoint" radio commentaries now air daily across the U.S.
Copyright © 2002 BreakPoint
Statement by the President
I commend the Congress for passing the Sudan Peace Act. This Act, passed with bipartisan support, demonstrates that the Congress shares my commitment to help end suffering and promote a just peace in Sudan. For too long, the people of Sudan have endured slavery, violence, disease, and forced starvation. Last year, I appointed former Senator John Danforth as my envoy to help bring peace and stability to Sudan. Senator Danforth and others, working with regional governments, especially the Government of Kenya, have established an unprecedented opportunity to end the war in Sudan and to lay the foundations for a just and lasting peace.
The Sudan Peace Act presses the parties in Sudan to seize this historic opportunity and to end the war and suffering. The Government of Sudan must choose between the path to peace and the path to continued war and destruction. If it makes the right choice, that course will mean improvement in the lives of all Sudanese, better bilateral relations with the United States, and the beginning of its reacceptance into the community of peace loving nations.
President George W. Bush
Not all articles published on CERC are the objects of official Church teaching, but these are supplied to provide supplementary information.