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Sri Lankan pastor questioned and ordered to stop all church activities


10 March 2016

A pastor was summoned to appear before the police Officer in Charge, two Buddhist monks and five villagers for an enquiry into a complaint that his church in Dummalasuriya, in the Kurunegala District of Sri Lanka, was unauthorised, it emerged in a report issued on 1 March. He was told, however, that the church could not be registered and that he must cease all worship activities.

According to a report by the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL), two police officers dressed in plain clothes visited the pastor on 8 January and asked him about the church activities that he conducted. About an hour later, two more police officers arrived, this time uniformed, and told the pastor that a complaint had been filed against his church and that he must attend an enquiry the following day.

At the enquiry, a police officer informed the pastor that the church was unauthorised. The villagers attending the enquiry told the pastor that the church must be registered with the Ministry of Buddha Sasana and Religious Affairs, but the two Buddhist monks from the village temple said that they would not allow the pastor to register the church, ordering him to discontinue church activities with immediate effect.

The threats did not end there, however. The pastor refused to sign any of the documentation that would have compelled him to stop church activities, and told the Officer in Charge that he would continue as normal. In response, the Officer in Charge said that he would bring a court order against the church if its activities led to a breach of the peace in the village.

There are many similar incidents involving Buddhist monks who say that Christians must have official registration (although this is against the constitution) and insisting that they cease all Christian activities. The NCEASL reported 87 incidents of persecution against Christians in 2015 alone, including 24 demands for church closure.