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Buddhist Monks Threaten Pastor to Stop Holding Church Services

ICC (10/31/06) – At approximately 8.45 AM on October 29, while the congregation gathered for the Sunday morning service at an Assemblies of God church in Yakkala (Gampaha District), a group of about 50 persons with 4 Buddhist monks, inducing the chief incumbent of the village temple arrived at the Church. The chief monk and some of the others demanded that the worship service must be cancelled. The Pastor was threatened to stop holding services. He was told that this is a Buddhist village and there was no need for a Christian church. The Church was further accused of conducting unethical conversions by offering money. The Pastor reasoned that these were unfounded accusations and that he and the Christians who attend the worship services have an equal right as citizens of this country to be there and to practice any religion of their choice. However, in fear of physical attack and harm to his congregation, the Pastor reluctantly agreed to cancel the service for that day. He was given an ultimatum to decide with his superiors whether he wants to close down the Church or face consequences.

A complaint was made to the Gampaha Police. Entry No: CIII 248/463. They have assured the Pastor that action will be taken to protect the right of the Christian congregation to continue worship services.

There are media reports that some Catholic and Christian schools have received anonymous threats to cancel Christmas programmes.

The following news report appeared in the Daily Mirror news paper of 27th October 2006.

Catholic Schools Threatened

Friday, October 27,2006

COLOMBO : Threatening letters by an anonymous group demanding Catholic and Christian schools and even private Montessoris in and around Colombo to cancel all Christmas programmes has sent shock waves among school authorities. Police have been informed of the threats by the group identifying itself as an organisation caring for children.

Some schools have reportedly received anonymous calls warning that stern action would be taken on those schools if they went ahead with the Christmas programmes.

A private Montessori school in Colombo 5 has cancelled all Christmas programmes. A spokesperson for a leading Catholic convent said the letter they received warned the school would have to suffer severe repercussions if they went ahead with any Christmas programmes.

This group has also called on the institutions to pass the message to other schools too.

However one letter which sent to another catholic school had said the children should sacrifice Christmas fanfare and sacrifice whatever money to the security forces serving in the North and East.

Rev. Fr. Cyril Gamini Fernando who spoke on behalf of the Catholic Church said forcing people to stop programmes in connection with Christmas was a violation of democratic rights. He said people in this country should have the right to practice their religions freely, adding that Christmas programmes were essential for the spiritual enrichment of the children.

However he said one should not take anonymous threats too seriously as it proved they were scared to reveal their identity. Daily Mirror