Anti-conversion bill resurfaces in Sri Lanka.

By May 1, 2006

Sri Lanka (MNN)–Compass News reports that Sri Lanka’s Parliament has revived the anti-conversion law.

A committee will review a bill that outlaws ‘forcible’ conversion, before it’s presented for a final vote. The bill called for prison sentences and stiff fines for those found in violation.

The Buddhist Jathika Hela Urumaya, (JHU or National Heritage Party), first introduced its draft Bill on Prohibition of Forcible Conversion to Parliament in July 2004 as an attempt to halt conversions from Buddhism to Christianity.

Hue and cry forced the bill onto the back burner, where it sat dormant until recently. The latest move came as sporadic attacks on churches continued, with the latest attack coming during the Easter season.

A Buddhist monk led a 100-strong mob to attack a church in Piliyandala, southeast of Colombo, during Sunday’s worship service. Although the church had called for police protection, the rioters managed to vandalize the church property.

Church staff lodged an official complaint, but during the April 25 court hearing, a 500-strong Buddhist crowd called for a ban on services.

The judge, however, granted freedom for the church to continue worshiping and issued a court order for the Buddhists not to disturb future services. Compass sources also indicate the Buddhist monk leading the attack was charged but released on bail until May 8, when a second hearing is scheduled.

Christians fear further violence if the anti-conversion legislation goes into law. Pray for those involved in ministry in Sri Lanka. The future of their work could be at risk.

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