BosNewsLife – Officials of Sri Lanka ‘s embattled Christian minority urged believers around the world to pray for them Monday, October 17, as Sinhalese Christians from several churches gathered in Colombo for a prayer walk to protest the alleged government backed persecution of religious minorities.
The appeal and prayer walk in the capital came amid international concern that parliament will adopt “anti-conversion” initiatives, including recognizing Buddhism as “the state religion” in the constitution, before next month’s presidential elections on the Southeast Asian island.
“As you are aware, the organized attacks against Christians in Sri Lanka are moving forward and the government, along with other anti-Christian organizations, is working hard trying to bring the anti-conversion bill into action,” said Jebamoney Ratnam of the National Christian Fellowship of Sri Lanka (NCFSL) in published remarks.
“Therefore we request all brethren who love the Lord to join us in prayer as we are organizing a peace march against the anti-conversion bill” and persecution, which he added included an open air prayer rally near Colombo ‘s Negomber Town Hall .
Before the latest protest, Sri Lanka’s prime minister and presidential candidate Mahinda Rajapaksa signed an election deal with an influential hard-line Buddhist party and an umbrella Buddhist organization, whose monks demand legislation that would make evangelizing illegal.
Besides a constitutional amendment, the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) or ‘National Heritage Party’ and the Jathika Sanga Sammelaneya or ‘National Buddhist Convention’ organization want parliament to adopt the ‘Bill for the Prohibition of Forcible Conversion.’
It calls for prison sentences of up to five years and/or high fines for anyone found guilty of converting others “by force or by allurement or by any fraudulent means.” The law also encourages members of the public to report cases of suspected forced conversion.
Human rights watchers say these measures are an excuse to increase persecution of religious minorities such as Christians, who have complained about violent attacks against churches and individual believers.
The NCFSL reportedly documented over 200 incidents of vandalism, violence, arson and harassment against churches and Christians over the past two years and fears the situation will worsen under the proposed anti conversion law [Go To Full Story]