The transitional constitution provides for separation of religion and state, prohibits religious discrimination, and provides religious groups freedom to worship and assemble, organize themselves, teach, own property, receive financial contributions, communicate and issue publications on religious matters, and establish charitable institutions. In Juba, police detained a local religious leader in April for flouting COVID-19 social distancing regulations.
In July, a local militia in Jonglei State attacked an Anglican church compound, killing 31 persons, including the church’s dean and 14 women and children. The country’s network of religious groups remained a crucial source of stability in an otherwise unstable country, according to researchers and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Religious leaders stated that a diverse network of Catholic, Protestant, and Muslim domestic and international organizations provided shelter from the fighting. Observers said that at times religious workers became targets for speaking out about what they believed to be the underlying causes of the conflict.
Embassy officials raised concerns with government representatives regarding conflict-related violence and its impact on religious workers. The U.S. Ambassador and other embassy representatives promoted religious freedom through discussions and outreach with religious leaders and civil society organizations, including an interfaith event for religious leaders in January.