Date: Tuesday 16 August 2005
Subj: Sri Lanka:Anti-Christian belligerence rewarded.
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal.
In Sri Lanka, a local Head Quarters Inspector has banned a small Christian fellowship from meeting for worship or prayer on the grounds that aggressive, threatening Buddhist opposition to its presence led to a disturbance of the peace. This unconstitutional, unjust and arbitrary ruling is pure appeasement. Impunity equals permission, and appeasement leads to escalation. Unless it is overturned, this ruling will bolster the confidence of Sri Lanka's Buddhist militants with the hope that unlawful, anti-Christian belligerence will be rewarded rather than prosecuted.
On Saturday 6 August 2005, the pastor of the Foursquare Gospel Church in Horana, Kalutara District, Sri Lanka, was informed that the mob which interrupted worship and harassed believers on Sunday 31 July was planning a repeat attack on Sunday 7 August. On the basis of this information, a request was made for police protection.
On Sunday 7 August, the mob of around 50 persons led by a Buddhist monk arrived at the church and demanded amidst threats that the believers (about 12 in number) cease their meetings, leave the church and not return.
No police protection had arrived, so the pastor once again called the police station, this time to request police intervention. The police called both parties to the police station to resolve the matter.
The Buddhists claimed that the Christians have no right to meet for worship in a village that is 99% Buddhist. Various unsubstantiated accusations were leveled against the Christians, based on the Buddhist Commission Report (which is a report, and not law).
The police accepted that the Christians have a constitutional right to religious freedom, which entitles them to meet and practise their faith. However, the Head Quarters Inspector (HQI) ordered the pastor and his congregation to stop meeting for Christian worship, with immediate effect, on the grounds that their Christian worship has led to a situation where it has caused a disturbance of the peace.
The church has also been instructed not to try and relocate. Hence the members of the Foursquare Gospel Church in Horana have in effect been banned from meeting for worship and prayer.