Lanka: Buddhist monks lead mob on two churches

January 18, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia, Persecution

Buddhist monks lead mob assault on two churches in Sri LankaSri Lanka, January 15, 2014: A large mob led by Buddhist monks attacked two churches in Sri Lanka while the congregations were gathered for worship on Sunday (12 January).

Video footage aired on Sri Lankan television showed the offenders throwing stones and bricks at the Assemblies of God (AOG) and Calvary Free Church buildings in Hikkaduwa. They smashed doors and windows, forcing entry to the places of worship. The mob shouted insults, burnt Bibles and Christian books, and destroyed signs and musical instruments.

Nobody was injured in the raid, but a pastor and others at the churches were threatened.

Police were at the scene but failed to intervene. Church leaders told the BBC that the officers appeared unwilling to restrain the monks. A police spokesman admitted police “inaction”, citing insufficient numbers, but said that action would be taken against all those identified as attackers; they intend to arrest 24 people, including eight Buddhist monks, on charges including vandalism, trespass and unlawful assembly.

The AOG and Calvary Free Church have previously been subjected to violent attacks.

Karu Jayasuriya, a senior opposition politican, called on the government to “take steps, corrective actions, to ensure this doesn’t happen again”.

The monks claimed that the AOG and Calvary Free Church are operating illegally. The churches have indeed been ordered to close, as have many others in Sri Lanka, as the authorities are increasingly swayed by an aggressive Sinhalese Buddhist lobby, which is opposed to Christian and Muslim activity in the country.

Churches are being told by the authorities that they must obtain permission from the Buddhist and Religious Affairs Ministry, even though religious groups are not officially required to register with the state in Sri Lanka.

This is proving extremely problematic for Evangelical and Pentecostal churches, because they are not recognised by the Buddhist and Religious Affairs Ministry.

The National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL) documented at least 65 anti-Christian attacks last year. Muslim businesses and mosques have also been targeted.

Another church, near Colombo, was attacked on Sunday. The building was set ablaze, but the fire was put out before any serious damage was done.

– barnabas team

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