Christian Persecution Intensifying in Sri Lanka amid Anti-Conversion Law

The persecution of Christians in Sri Lanka is increasing as evidenced by the Assembly of God church attacks recently. The situation may soon get even worse due to the unclear proposed anti-conversion law, a spokesman of Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) said.

The Church of Assembly of God was attacked by a crowd of around 100 people in Ambalangoda, Sri Lanka. Local authorities believe that Buddhist monks are responsible for the attack. However, a spokesman for VOM, Todd Nettleton said these incidents are becoming a common scene in Sri Lanka.

"This is just one of many attacks in the nation of Sri Lanka in the past few months and in the past few years," he said for Agape Press.

"The reports are that in the last two years, at least 170 churches have been attacked, and 140 churches have been closed down due to this type of violent attack."

In his opinion, the proposed anti-conversion law may cause even more fierce persecution, since the way of its interpretation is uncertain.

"The problem with the law," Nettleton explains, "is it doesn't really clarify what inducing someone is - if that's offering them money or if that's simply telling them that you know a better way or you know a better Saviour. So that law, obviously, is a concern for Christian workers in the country."

The law was proposed by the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) Party to Sri Lanka's parliament in July 2004 with the aim to promote Buddhism in Sri Lanka. However, the Supreme Court found two sections of the proposed bill as unconstitutional. If approved, the law would contradict Article 10 of Constitution and restrict the freedom of religion for Sri Lankans.

The pending legislation is also a concern for foreign workers who are considering or who are actively doing mission work in Sri Lanka, Nettleton added.

At the moment, it is not clear when Sri Lanka's Parliament will vote on the anti-conversion bill.