Sri Lanka’s constitution affords Buddhism, which is practised by 70% of the population, ‘the foremost place’. This elevated status is exploited by a powerful ethnic Sinhalese and Buddhist nationalist lobby, which demands rights and privileges for itself at the expense of other religions. The lobby, which is particularly opposed to Christianity, campaigns for the introduction of anti-conversion legislation that would hinder Christian activities. Christians face difficulties in building churches and might be ordered to stop activities; they experience discrimination in education, and many live in desperate poverty. The government plans to introduce legislation prohibiting ‘cults’; this could threaten evangelical churches, which are not recognised by the state. Christianity has a long history on the island, pre-dating the arrival of Westerners by many centuries. Tradition claims that Sri Lanka was first evangelised by the apostle Thomas.
Sri Lanka: freedom of worshipWritten by David Fletcher 10 Mar 2017
- Pray: for Christians to have strength and courage in the face of persecution and political pressure, and that the Sinhalese lobby will not succeed in restricting freedom of worship. (Is.61:1b)
- More: barnabasfund.org/projects/SriLanka?audience=AU