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Sri Lanka

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This church building in Sri Lanka was severely damaged in a mob attack  

Sri Lanka’s constitution affords Buddhism, which is practised by about 70% of the population, “the foremost place”. This elevated status is exploited by a powerful ethnic Sinhalese and Buddhist nationalist lobby, which demands rights and privileges for itself at the expense of other religions. The lobby, which is particularly opposed to Christianity, campaigns for the introduction of anti-conversion legislation that would hinder Christian activities.

This political pressure is accompanied by a violent extremist movement on the ground. At least 65 anti-Christian incidents, including mob attacks on churches, were recorded in 2013. Church leaders are particularly at risk of violence and harassment, and churches may be forcibly closed. Pressure from Buddhist monks closed down over 40 churches and house churches in Sri Lanka in 2013. While the government claims to uphold religious freedom, it does little to investigate or prevent attacks by Buddhist extremists.

Pastor Pradeep was out when a violent mob of Buddhist extremists descended on his home, which is used for worship. The assailants vandalised the property and threatened the pastor’s wife, who called the police, but they could not contain the mob. The attack continued for three and a half hours. This onslaught followed a series of other forcible attempts to end Pastor Pradeep’s ministry.

Christians face difficulties in building churches, and may be ordered to stop activities that have not been “authorised” by the state. The government plans to introduce legislation prohibiting “cults”; this could threaten evangelical churches, which are not recognised by the state.

Christians, who make up around 7% of the population, also experience discrimination in education. Many have continued to live in desperate poverty since their homes and churches were destroyed in the 26-year civil war, which ended in 2009.

Christianity has a long history on the island, pre-dating the arrival of Westerners by many centuries. Tradition claims that Sri Lanka was first evangelised by the apostle Thomas. Small Christian communities existed on the coasts of Sri Lanka during the succeeding centuries, but Christianity made significant progress only from the sixteenth century. Despite this long-standing presence, the faith is perceived by many Sri Lankans as a product of Western colonialism.

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    • About 1,500 Christians staged a protest in Lahore, Pakistan in June 2014 over the grabbing of church-owned property by the government of Punjab. Over ten large properties, including a church, schools, hospitals and graveyards, have been taken. Christian leaders met with the Lahore District Coordination Officer on 15 June to demand the return of the latest school to be seized, but when they failed to get a positive response, Christian protestors took to the streets. Pray that the provincial government will respect the property rights of the churches. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 7 hours ago

    • Praise God that Pakistan’s Supreme Court has instructed the government to take specific steps to protect religious minorities from violence and intolerance. The ruling was issued partly in response to the deadly attack on All Saints Church in Peshawar in September 2013, which claimed over 100 lives. The court ordered the formation of a National Council for Minority Rights, a special police force to protect places of worship, and a taskforce to develop strategies to counter intolerance, along with further corrective measures. Campaigners for the rights of Christians in Pakistan welcomed the moves but expressed reservations about whether they would be implemented. Pray that the measures will achieve a tangible improvement in the condition of the country’s Christians. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Aug 2014 00:00

    • Loving Father, we cry out to You for the loved ones of ten Egyptian Christians who were murdered in Libya in February and March this year. We ask that You will bring your healing and peace to their families and friends and comfort their congregations in their loss. We pray for protection for Egyptian and other expatriate Christians in Libya and ask that their neighbours will not yield to requests by the militants to hand them over and get a reward in return. We pray that further Islamist attacks against Christians will be prevented and that the Libyan authorities will establish a greater measure of control over the country. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Aug 2014 00:00

    • Pray for Egyptian Christians who are leaving Libya in the face of growing violence against them. Many have gone there seeking work, but following the recent spate of killings, they are now fleeing. An Egyptian church leader has said that attacks and threats against Christians in the region are an attempt at “genocide”. Pray that what seems to be a targeted Islamist campaign to wipe Christians out of Libya will not succeed. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Aug 2014 00:00

    • A young Christian woman in Somalia was killed by a group of armed men who broke into her house in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, earlier this year. The assailants dragged her outside and shot at neighbours who tried to rescue her. Her parents were present when the attack took place. The Islamist group al-Shabaab has killed dozens of Christians since 2008, when it seized control of large parts of the country, and although it has now been driven from its strongholds, its deadly hostility to Christians is unrelenting. Pray for other Christian converts in Somalia as they face terror on every side (Psalm 31:13). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Aug 2014 00:00

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