Anti-conversion legislation could be approved in Sri Lanka next month

By March 29, 2005

Sri Lanka (MNN) — Christians in Sri Lanka are concerned about a cabinet decision that could bring a tough anti-conversion bill into law in that predominately Buddhist nation. The act stipulates that no person should “attempt to convert or aid or abet acts of conversion of a person to a different religion.”

Back to the Bible Sri Lanka director James Kanaganayagam says if it’s approved it could mean an end to providing food, caring for orphans, or providing medical and other humanitarian programs. “It would not only limit evangelism, it would also curtail our mandate to live as Jesus wants us to live in that it could be misconstrued that even social action is done in order to bribe people into the kingdom of God.”

Despite a Supreme Court ruling last year that declared a similar bill unconstitutional, many believe the act could pass this time.

It’s unclear if the act will prevent Back to the Bible from helping tsunami victims. Kanaganayagam says they’ve gone into Buddhist, Muslim and Hindu refugee camps to help. “Despite the fact that their religion was different, they appreciated the fact that they received assistance of food, shelter and clothing at a time when sometimes their own religious organizations were not able to help them.”

That’s allowed them to share the love of Christ with people they typically wouldn’t have been able to contact.

If passed, the bill would give the courts power to jail offenders for up to five years and fine them up to 100,000 rupees (US$1,000). If the offence is committed against a minor, the maximum punishment would increase to seven years in prison or 500,000 rupees (US$5,000).

Believers around the world are encouraged to pray that the law will be struck down.

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