After facing the defeat of a proposed anti-conversion law, the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) party, composed entirely of Buddhist monks, is attempting once again to engrain Buddhism as the state religion and prevent the conversion of Buddhists in Sri Lanka, a persecution watchdog group reported Wednesday.
According to the Voice of the Martyrs, the proposed bill would declare Buddhism as the official religion of Sri Lanka, while allowing other forms of religion to be practiced "in peace and harmony with Buddha Sasana."
Freedom of worship for religions other than Buddhism would be subject to public order and morals; something which could easily be abused to restrict religious freedom, VOM reported. The amendment, referred to as the "19th Amendment," would also prohibit converting Buddhists to any other religion as well as spreading other religions among Buddhists.
On Dec. 7, a court petition was heard against the proposal on the grounds that the amendment would infringe on basic human rights. The court's decision will be given to the speaker of the Parliament by Dec. 16.
Meanwhile, as the Dec. 12 anniversary of the sudden death of Buddhist leader Ven
Gangodawila Soma Thero approaches; there are concerns that the violence seen last December may be repeated. Christians were widely blamed for his unexpected death during a trip to Russia last December, VOM explained.
While violent attacks and threats against Christians have become less frequent in recent months, incidents do continue to occur, according to sources. In a recent example, the pastor of the "Believers' Church" in the village of Kammalawa in Kuliyapitiya faced a crowd of over 100 on the evening of December 2, threatening him if he does not stop holding worship services. Later that night, the church was attacked with stones, damaging the roof tiles, one door and several windows.
Pray for the safety of Christians in Sri Lanka, VOM stated. Pray for the peace of Christ to reign in the hearts of believers facing the uncertainty of this proposed legislation as well as the dangers from those opposed to the Gospel. Pray for wisdom and direction for church leaders during this time.
An evaluation of the proposed amendment is available at http://www.srilankanchristians.com/article6.html.