Believers in Sri Lanka face growing challenges.

By May 18, 2006

Sri Lanka (MNN)–Attacks against Sri Lankan churches are spiking again. Glenn Penner is a spokesman for Voice of the Martyrs-Canada.

He says one in one incident involved setting car tires on fire in front of a Methodist church to prevent people from entering for Sunday worship.

A second attack took place May 6, at the United Christian Fellowship in Poddala, Galle district. The church was building a community hall on their land in the village. The mob threatened to set fire to the building if construction continued. Church staff reported the incident to police. Construction is on hold due to fears of another attack.

Buddhist monks led a mob to attack a Methodist church in Piliyandala, southeast of Colombo, on April 30. It was the forth time in a month where mobs formed outside the church.

Although these attacks are not directly connected he says the persecution is a symptom of another problem that they’re more concerned about. “The most disturbing aspect is once again that the anti-conversion legislation is once again being discussed in Sri Lanka and at a time when the government is increasingly pre-occupied with rising conflicts with the Tamil Tigers.”

The bills, he says are pending, so there is still some time, although the implication is clear. “It actually hasn’t come to the house yet, but discussions are taking place as to whether it should be implemented.”

In less than a month, three churches were hit by mobs. Buddhist monks, pushing for a nationalist state, incited the riots. “Pray for church leaders as they seek to lead their church in the midst of this uncertainty that has gripped the country. Christians are the one group in this country that bridge both of the major ethnic groups in Sri Lanka. Hence, they have a unique opportunity to bring peace to this stubborn nation.”

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