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International Christian Concern
2020 Pennsylvania Ave. NW #941
Washington DC 20006-1846
www.www.persecution.org
Email: iccusa@comcast.net

For Immediate Release:
Sri Lankan Christians Ask for Prayer

You are free to disseminate the following news. We kindly request that you reference ICC (International Christian Concern) and include our web address www.www.persecution.org.

8/18/03 The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC) www.www.persecution.org has just become aware of the worsening situation for Christians in Sri Lanka. The National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL) has asked Christians around the world to pray for Sri Lankan believers as several alarming trends have begun to emerge.

Anti-Conversion Law

Two prominent government Ministers (one Buddhist and one Hindu) are supporting anti-conversion legislation which will soon be presented to the Parliament. The legislation is designed to curtail conversion to other faiths, particularly Christianity. Evangelical Christians are frequently accused of ‘unethical conversion’ by supposedly “duping the poor to embrace a foreign religion by tempting them with material benefits and money.” Charges of such ‘unethical conversions’ have led to a surge in anti-Christian feelings and rhetoric.
Supreme Court Ruling

The Supreme Court has also handed down several decisions that do not bode well for the Church. Foremost among these is the recent ruling that the incorporation of Christian organizations that propagate their faith is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court, interpreting Article 10 and 14(1)e of the Constitution, ruled that although it was permissible under the Constitution for a person to manifest, observe and practice his or her religion, it does not guarantee a fundamental right to propagate religion. Article 9 of the Constitution guarantees Buddhism the foremost place in society and therefore, the judges argued, the state is bond to foster and protect the Buddhist faith. A day after this decision was handed down a government official called a press conference and announced: “this is a clear judgment. It will give us the legal backing to stop this kind of activity (unethical conversions) carried out in the name of religion.”

Series of Attacks

In the wake of the Court ruling and the expected consideration of Anti-Conversion legislation in the Parliament, several Christian churches have been attacked by gangs of armed Buddhist monks. Over the weekend of August 2-3, members of the following five churches were attacked: the Methodist Church in Rathgama, the Assembly of God (AOG) Church in Thanamalwila, the AOG Church in Lunugamwhehra, the AOG Church in Ganemulla, and Calvary Church in Hikkaduwa. As a result of these incidences, at least four Christian workers were beaten and church property was damaged or destroyed. Several pastors have been threatened to close their churches or pay with their lives. More attacks are anticipated.
ICC is a Washington-DC based human rights organization that exists to help persecuted Christians worldwide. ICC delivers humanitarian aid, trains and supports persecuted pastors, raises awareness of the problem of persecution in the US Church and is an advocate for the persecuted to the US Government.

For additional information or for an interview, contact ICC at 301-989-1708