On Thursday, August 17 at 10:30AM, Voice of the Martyrs Korea President Rev. Dr. Hyun Sook Foley CEO Rev. Dr. Eric Foley delivered a 1,000- signature petition from Korean Christians to the Deputy Ambassador and staff of the Sri Lankan Embassy.
Since the formation of the Sri Lankan government in 2015 there have been very positive steps regarding some of the issues faced by many citizens, for which the administration is to be highly commended.
However, we would urge further, urgent steps be taken in regard to the treatment of Sri Lanka’s Evangelical Christian community, notably through the misuse of a circular produced in 2008 by the Ministry of Buddha Sasana and Religious Affairs.
Although not based on parliamentary legislation, it is being used either to close down churches or threaten Evangelical Christian to stop their religious worship activities on the pretext that they are not ‘registered’. Local government officials are using the circular to discriminate against Evangelical Christians even though no law exists in Sri Lanka for the registration of church buildings.
We call on the Government of Sri Lanka to cancel this circular so that all citizens are treated fairly and equally under the law. Such action will have a lasting and positive impact on your country.
For other ways you can support persecuted Christians in Sri Lanka, visit our Global Ministries page.
Sri Lanka profile
The growth of evangelical Christianity in Sri Lanka since 1980 has met with violent opposition from Buddhist extremists. Persecution has intensified since 2012, coinciding with a rise in Buddhist nationalism. There have been attacks on churches and Christians, some serious. In many cases, Buddhist monks have led violent mobs. Christians say local government officials and police do little to prevent attacks – and are sometimes complicit in them.
Anti-Christian violence has abated somewhat since 2015, when President Maithripala Sirisena came to power, pledging to uphold religious freedoms guaranteed in the constitution. Yet, there has been an increase in legal restrictions on church activity. Local officials are still misusing a 2008 government circular to limit religious freedom and intimidate pastors. The directive requires places of worship to be ‘registered’, despite there being no legal means to do so. Many ‘unregistered’ churches have been forced to close.
Thanks to our supporters, VOM is able to fund conferences to encourage persecuted churches and a safe house for Christians in danger, as well as providing support for pastors’ children.