On Easter Sunday 2019 Sri Lanka was devastated by a series of bomb attacks on churches and hotels. More than 250 people were killed in the explosions, carried out by a little-known local Islamist militant group.
News of this shocking atrocity quickly spread around the world. But Christians in Sri Lanka have long been facing violent opposition from a different source – militant Buddhists. Churches have been burned down, individual Christians have been attacked – and threats and intimidation are rife.
In recent years a religious circular, related to the registration of places of worship, has been misused by Buddhists to force the closure of churches – and even to stop Christians meeting in their own homes for prayer.
Christians often face legal difficulties in the burial of their dead and find themselves discriminated against when applying for school places for their children. In rural areas social ostracism extends to preventing Christians renting houses – and even buying basic foodstuffs. All of this despite Sri Lanka having a constitution which supposedly guarantees freedom of religion.
Our partner in Sri Lanka provides legal support for persecuted Christians. This includes lobbying for religious freedom and running awareness programmes for pastors. Sometimes our partner has had to turn away Christians who need legal aid, due to lack of finance.
WHAT YOUR SUPPORT ACHIEVES
Release International currently aims to contribute about £5,000 a year to this vital work. Members of RI staff have met Christians and pastors who have been helped with legal aid and advice. They have expressed great appreciation for this support, as they seek to serve the Lord and to proclaim the gospel in difficult circumstances.