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7/3/2024 United States (International Christian Concern) — The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released a report on June 27 outlining the current conditions for religious freedom in Sri Lanka.

The report described the persecution that Sri Lankan Christians face through the limitation of church building permits, harassment, and the proliferation of anti-Christian sentiment online. 

USCIRF recommended that the U.S. Department of State designate Sri Lanka as a Special Watch List country in 2023 and 2024. This designation would establish U.S. recognition of religious persecution in Sri Lanka and allow the United States to take certain actions to aid Sri Lanka in addressing the issues. 

The constitution of Sri Lanka provides freedom of thought, conscience, and religion but places Buddhism at “the foremost place” while allowing space for other minority religions. In contrast to many other countries, the persecution Christians face in Sri Lanka is primarily perpetuated by the government. Restrictions on church permits make the practice and spread of Christianity difficult and lead to increased incidents of violence and disagreements between members of the community.

The U.S. Department of State addressed these issues in its International Religious Freedom Report 2023. 

During the year, the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL) documented 43 anti-Christian cases of intimidation of and violence against pastors and their congregations, obstruction of worship services, discriminatory actions, and attacks on churches, compared with 80 cases in 2022 … In many of the incidents, the NCEASL said police or other officials played a role, and, in cases of intimidation or attacks by Buddhist groups on Christian churches, the NCEASL reported that police often said the pastors were to blame.” 

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