Christians are targeted in Sri Lanka.

By December 22, 2003

Sri Lanka (MNN)–The Christian population is under constant attacks of Buddhist majority community in different provinces of Sri Lanka, where churches have been desecrated, Holy Bibles burnt and clergy attacked by the processions led by the Buddhist monks.

The Christians are 8% of the population and have been enjoying cordial relations with other religious communities in the country from centuries.

Voice of the Martyrs’ Todd Nettleton says in the last three weeks, there have been at least a dozen violent incidents targeting believers.

A small group meeting for prayer in Ampegama was assaulted, and a pastor leading the prayer meeting, as well
as some of the members, were beaten by assailants.

On December 7th, four churches in the Kegalle district were attacked by religiously motivated militants. Belongings were stolen, one church was burned and church members were beaten.

In one church a mob smashed the building’s windows and doors, burned the belongings and threatened the lives of some church workers who lived there.

On December 9th, Buddhist groups held a rally in Embilipitiya. The speakers reportedly said that Christian churches were functioning illegally and should be attacked and smashed. That evening police prevented an attack on a
local Assembly of God Church, but the World Vision office and Catholic church were not spared.

Soldiers from a nearby army camp attempted to
prevent the Church building from being burned, but were told by the mob to not intervene, claiming they had orders from “higher authorities.”

In nearby Udawalawe, the Assembly of God church was besieged by about 30 people who smashed windows and doors and burned furnishings. The pastor managed to
escape unharmed, but the home of another pastor was damaged by stones.

Nettleton explains that while the Sri Lanka constitution guarantees a freedom of religion, “It seems that the Buddhist leadership are very concerned to see Buddhist people choose to follow Jesus Christ. That seems to be what is causing it (persecution). There even has been some talk of an anti-conversion law, similar to what we’re seeing in some of the states of India.”

Nettleton says their contacts will continue to minister throughout the country. “I think we can pray that God would sustain the Christians there, that he would give them courage and boldness to share their faith. I think we can pray specifically about the government situation, that there won’t be an anti conversion law, that the Christians there would be given equality by their government.”

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