The transitional constitution stipulates separation of religion and state. It prohibits religious discrimination, even if the president declares a state of emergency. It states that all religions are to be treated equally and that religion should not be used for divisive purposes.
The transitional constitution provides for the right of religious groups to worship or assemble freely in connection with any religion or belief, solicit and receive voluntary financial contributions, own property for religious purposes, and establish places of worship. The transitional constitution also provides religious groups the freedom to write, issue, and disseminate religious publications; communicate with individuals and communities on matters of religion at both the national and international levels; teach religion in places “suitable” for this purpose; train, appoint, elect, or designate by succession their religious leaders; and observe religious holidays.
The government requires religious groups to register with the state government where they operate and the Ministry for Humanitarian Affairs through the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (because most religious groups are also advocacy and humanitarian/development organizations). Faith-based organizations are required to provide their constitution; a statement of faith documenting their doctrines, beliefs, objectives, and holy book; a list of executive members; and a registration fee of $3,500 (which is charged for all organizations, including faith-based ones). This requirement, however, is not strictly enforced, and many churches operate without registration. International faith-based organizations are required also to provide a copy of a previous registration with another government and a letter from the international organization commissioning its activities in the country.
The transitional constitution specifies the regulation of religious matters within each state is the executive and legislative responsibility of the state government. It establishes the responsibility of government at all levels to protect monuments and places of religious importance from destruction or desecration.
The transitional constitution allows religious groups to establish and maintain “appropriate” faith-based charitable or humanitarian institutions.
The transitional constitution guarantees every citizen access to education without discrimination based on religion.
The country is not a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
There were continued reports that in connection with the civil conflict, security forces, opposition forces, and armed militias affiliated with the government and the opposition committed killings and other abuses of civilians, including religious aid workers and churchgoers. On May 16, at least 10 persons were killed when government forces attacked Emmanuel Christian College in Yei; the motive for the attack remained unclear.
Both a Christian representative and a Muslim representative read prayers at most official events, with the government often providing translation from English to Arabic.
Several religious groups were represented in government positions. President Kiir Mayardit, a Catholic, employed a high-level advisor on religious affairs, Sheikh Juma Saaed Ali, a leader of the Islamic community in the country. Additional Muslim representation in government included at least one governor and 14 members of the 400-member Transitional National Legislative Assembly. All principal religious groups were represented in the assembly.
Although not mandated by the government, religious education was generally included in public secondary school and university curricula. Theoretically, students could attend either a Christian or an Islamic course, and those with no religious affiliation could choose between the two courses. Because of resource constraints, however, some schools offered only one course. Christian and Muslim private religious schools set their own religious curriculum without government interference.