International outrage is growing over the death sentence a Sudanese judge ordered for a pregnant wife of an American citizen---all because she refuses to renounce her Christian faith.
The Christian mother, who is pregnant with their second child, has also been sentenced to 100 lashes after the child is born, before she is hanged to death.
The charges are "zena"---Arabic for illegitimate sex in having relations with her husband.
She is charged with both adultery and apostasy.
Since being charged and offered the option of freedom for renouncing her Christian faith, she has remained steadfast in saying she will not renounce her faith in Jesus Christ.
On Thursday the judge ruled, "The court has sentenced you to be hanged till you are dead."
The world, including the U.S., is expressing outrage, yet some are wondering if there are not parallels of persecution in our own country.
Meriam Yahia Ibrahim is a 27-year old married Christian woman who has a 20-month old son and is 8 months pregnant with her second child.
Ibrahim's father was a Sudanese Muslim who left her when she was 6. She was raised by her mother, an Ethiopian orthodox Christian.
However, Sudan's Islamic law recognizes her as a Muslim because her father was one, thereby recognizing her relationship with her husband as "illicit."
Similar charges have been filed against other women, but in each case the women have renounced their Christian faith.
Meriam will not do so.
She is married to Daniel Wani, a Christian from southern Sudan who has U.S. citizenship.
The couple operate several businesses, including a farm south of Khartoum, the country's capital.
Wani fled to the U.S. as a child to escape the civil war in southern Sudan, but later returned.
He has been asking the U.S. government to intervene and grant his wife and child a Visa to come to the U.S. CBN is reporting that the human rights group "Hardwired" says the U.S. government has not been helpful.
They say, "There's been a huge failure on behalf of the United States" in regard to processing the request by Daniel.
The Sudanese Muslim government has also ruled that the father cannot have custody of the children after the mother is put to death because the children cannot be raised by a Christian father.
The father, Daniel, is asking Christians around the world to pray for God's intervention in the matter.
There is some time before the execution. There is an appeal process available to Meriam. Islamic law also forbids the execution of a pregnant mother during the lactation period of 24 months following the birth of the child.
The U.S. based Center for Inquiry has written a letter to the Sudanese UN Ambassador demanding the charges be dropped.
They say, "Religious belief must never be coerced and free expression must never be punished through threat of imprisonment, violence, or any other means."
The letter concludes, "This cannot go unanswered, and the world will not stand for it."
Please pray for Meriam and her husband. This is a horrible infringement on their religious freedom.
In reflecting on this matter, it is not difficult to see parallels in other countries---Western countries, like here in the U.S.
I agree "religious belief must never be coerced," yet the religion of secular progressivism and its anti-Christian bias is imposed on about 50 million school children every day as they are held hostage in our public classrooms.
I agree "free expression of religious beliefs should never be punished through threat of imprisonment, violence or any other means" yet it is common, not uncommon, for biblical Christians in America today to be punished by threat of legal action, loss of job and/or career and social coercion for believing same sex behavior is sin, that marriage is only between a man and a woman and that life is sacred and abortion is killing an innocent life.
While there is no "death penalty" per se, for disagreeing with this new social agenda, there are penalties to be sure. And it can spell the "death" of a business or career.
Consider the number of jobs lost recently by high profile people who simply stated they believe in biblical teaching on homosexual behavior. How many whom we never hear about lose their jobs for the same reason?
How many careers have been ended, large companies sued and boycotted and small business people put out of business because of their belief in the biblical model of marriage?
As our current administration leads in expanding so called "gay rights" and "women's choice," penalizing those who believe differently because of religious conviction, they too are participating in religious discrimination, but where is the outcry?
How can this administration take the "high road" of morality and fairness in condemning the Sudanese government, when they themselves practice a more sophisticated form of the same behavior toward biblical Christians?
Hypocrisy. And compromise.
My friend Franklin Graham spoke to the issue of compromise this week in his column.
He said, "True followers [of Jesus] cannot endorse same-sex marriage" regardless of what President Barack Obama, the Congress, the Supreme Court, or the media say about the issue, adding that marriage was settled by God Himself and cannot be modified by man."
He says the moral debate is about something more than the sins themselves, "It's about the great compromise, calling into question the authority of Scripture," calling on Christians to stand firm concerning the authority of Scripture, saying the Bible is "crystal clear on marriage and the sanctity of life."
Whether the coercion is to embrace the religion of Islam or secular progressivism, this is a time to stand strong and have courage.
Be Vigilant. Be Not Afraid. Be Bold. Be Discerning. Be Strong. Be Prayerful. Be Blessed.