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It is almost four years since Release International has been able to visit
Sri Lanka. The effects of Covid 19 and the economic problems have
taken their toll and the country has suffered. The population continues
to have serious problems, one of which is that the important tourist
trade has not picked up, even though the rate of inflation has now
reduced from 95 per cent to 25 per cent. Consequently, many churches,
their members and pastors have endured great financial hardship.
Against this background there is a clear and worrying trend that
persecution of evangelical churches is on the increase. Local temples,
both Buddhist and Hindu, are opposing pastors and there is now even
evidence of Buddhist and Hindu extremists working collaboratively
against the church, labelling evangelicals as the ‘born-again cult’.
Opposition and attacks are often against very isolated pastors with
harassment and physical hostility being backed up by what are
currently false allegations that churches must register before they
can meet.
Encouragingly our partner has recruited and trained 150 lawyers who
are now willing to provide legal representation for struggling churches
and pastors.
We have witnessed very courageous pastors determined to share the
love and gospel of Christ in the face of daunting hostility often under
attack and greatly outnumbered by large hostile crowds.
We praise God for the vision, the faithfulness, the courage, and the
compassion for their neighbours and enemies found in the hearts of
many pastors. The gospel is spreading, and the church is growing.
They and our partner need our prayers and support to help them to
sustain their love, commitment and courage.
The words of one pastor we met are unforgettable: ‘This is the least
reached area; I want to make it the most reached area!’
‘Linda’ (volunteer)
There has been an increase in
anti-minority rhetoric and staunch
Buddhist nationalism. The ethno-
religious violence against minority
faith groups, particularly the
Christian community, is both an
entrenched and chronic issue that
has persisted in Sri Lankan society
irrespective of the changes to
the country’s socio-political and
economic context. In the past 24
months there have been:
 160-plus recorded incidents of
FoRB (Freedom of Religion or
Belief) violations perpetrated
against the Christian community
 The State is the main driver of
FoRB violations against Christians
(over 60 per cent of the incidents
since 2021)
 There has been an increase in the
intensity and frequency of Hindu
extremist group-led incidents of
persecution against the Christian
 The main points of contention
in social hostilities and state
restrictions against Christians
are propagation, conversion
and registration
 Negative judicial sentiment
concerning FoRB in general and
religious freedoms of Christians
in particular
Thanks to your support we are
able to provide:
•  Tailored help to the children
of rural pastors, especially
those affected by the
economic collapse, who are
facing pressure from their
•  Lawyer assistance to
Christians who face legal
•  Support for Christian teachers
who provide education to
children forced out of state
schools because of their faith

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