Four Buddhist monks forced their way into the premises of church in Sri Lanka’s Kalutara District on Sunday 6 September 2015. They told the pastor he had no right to conduct worship services in the village, and proceeded to call the police station’s Officer in Charge. Police later told the pastor that he needed to register the church with the state and forced him to sign a statement that he would cease all Christian activity until this was done.
There are many similar incidents involving violent attacks by Buddhist monks and hard-line Buddhist groups who say that Christians must have official registration (although this is against the constitution) and insisting that they cease all Christian activities. The National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka reported 114 incidents of Christian persecution in 2014 alone.
In 2009, a 26-year civil war between the mainly Buddhist Sinhalese majority and minority Tamils, ho are largely Hindu, finally ended. Anew president, ala Sirisena, was elected on 9 January 2 He heads a coalition that includes both moderates and the radical Buddhist party which proposed an anti- conversion law (shelved in 2005) Under the ten year rule of his predecessor, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Christians suffered enormously. The country’s constitution states that Buddhism shall have “the foremost place” and makes the state responsible for protecting and fostering the religion. Christians, who make up around 8% of the population, suffer widespread injustice and poverty. Tamil Christians are doubly discriminated against for their ethnicity and their faith. Many Christians work on the tea plantations and are harassed by their employers They also live in extreme poverty on the slopes of these plantations, where they are susceptible to mudslides. In schools, too, non-Buddhists face discrimination
Pray that Sri Lanka’s current president will show a greater commitment to protecting the religious freedoms of the country’s Christians and that pressure from violent groups willbe ignored. Pray that Sri Lankan Christians will have courage and perseverance to live out their faith. Pray that many of the country’s believers will be lifted from the deep poverty in which they are entrenched. Ask that they will have fair access to educational and employment opportunities and that any tactics to discriminate will be brought into the light. Pray also that they will be protected from insults, threats and violent attacks from hard-line Buddhist groups.