Pastor threatened with death, historic Methodist sanctuary ransacked, during Holy Week.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, April 16 (Compass Direct News) – Buddhist mobs attacked several churches in Sri Lanka last week, threatening to kill a pastor in the southern province of Hambanthota and ransacking a 150-year-old Methodist church building in the capital.
On April 8, four Buddhist extremists approached the home of pastor Pradeep Kumara in Weeraketiya, Hambanthota district, calling for him to come out and threatening to kill him. The pastor said his wife, at home alone with their two children, phoned him immediately but by the time he returned, the men had left.
Half an hour later, Kumar said, the leader of the group phoned him and again threatened to kill him if he did not leave the village by the following morning. Later that night the group leader returned to the house and ordered the pastor to come out, shouting, “I didn’t bring my gun tonight because if I had it with me, I would use it!”
“My children were frightened,” Kumara said. “I tried to reason with him to go away, but he continued to bang on the door and threaten us.”
Police soon arrived on the scene and arrested the instigator but released him the following day.
Subsequently the attacker gathered Buddhist monks and other villagers together and asked them to sign a petition against the church, Kumar said. Protestors then warned the pastor’s landlord that they would destroy the house if he did not evict the pastor’s family by the end of the month.
Fearing violence, Kumara said he canceled Good Friday and Easter Sunday services and evacuated his children to a safer location.
Methodist Building Ransacked
Earlier, on Palm Sunday (April 5), another group of men broke into the 150-year-old Pepiliyana Methodist Church in Colombo after congregants concluded an Easter procession.
The gang entered through the back door and windows of the building late that night; witnesses said they saw them load goods into a white van parked outside the church early the next morning.
“They removed everything, including valuable musical instruments, a computer, Bibles, hymn books and all the church records,” said the Rev. Surangika Fernando.
The church had no known enemies and enjoyed a good relationship with other villagers, Rev. Fernando said, adding that the break-in appeared to be more than a simple robbery.
“My desk was completely cleaned out,” he said. “They took important documents with details of parishioners such as baptism and marriage records, which are of no value to thieves. They even took what was in my wastepaper basket.”
Local police agreed that robbery was an unlikely motive and that opponents from outside the area were the most likely culprits. Investigations were continuing at press time.
Finally, anti-Christian mobs in Vakarai, eastern Batticaloa district, intimidated church members gathering for several worship services during Holy Week.
“What can we do?” pastor Kanagalingam Muraleetharan told Compass. “The authorities and the police say we have the right to worship, but the reality is that people are threatened.”
The Easter incidents are the latest in a long series of attacks against churches and Christian individuals in recent years, many of them instigated by Buddhist monks who decry the growth of Christianity in the country.
Members of Sri Lanka’s Parliament may soon enact an anti-conversion bill designed to restrict religious conversions. Human rights organizations and Christian groups have criticized the vague terminology of the legislation that, if passed, may invite misapplication against religious activity.
The draft “Bill for the Prohibition of Forcible Conversions” was referred to a consultative committee of the Ministry of Religious Affairs in February for further deliberation, prior to a final reading and vote. (See http://www.compassdirect.org, “Parliament to Vote on Anti-Conversion Laws,” Jan. 26.)
According to the most recent government census, Protestant Christians number less than 1 percent of the total population in Sri Lanka, but they remain the primary target of religiously motivated violence and intimidation.
Report from Compass News Direct
Yes, I too think it takes a “type” to perpetrate that kind of violence.
Now that is a more balanced approach to the story and I would agree with it. As you have said, the vast majority of people both Islam and Christianity are peaceful – and certainly that is also the case for Buddhism. There are those that view themselves as such that are far from ‘orthodox’ in all three religions. I think you would agree with that assessment.
More than likely it is those ‘types’ that were involved in the situation in Sri Lanka.
Actually, denial is one way to avoid dealing with the facts.
There are no Buddhist scriptural texts allowing aggression, let alone violence. Even if the aggressors think of themselves as Buddhist. As Buddhists they would have failed and there is no place in the universe where they can hide from their karmic comeuppance.
But this cannot be said of Jews/Christians/Moslems. Iin some parts of the Old and New Testaments we learn God will raise an army against the Israelites that will not worship him properly. However, for Christians and Jews there is a caveat in Jeremiah 18:8. Some Moslems though seem to have their own take on a divine sanction for perpetrating violence.
It must be said – and constantly reflected upon – that the vast majority of peoples of the said faiths are peaceful.
Well, I guess denial is one way to deal with the facts presented in the above story.
Regarding the allegation:
On April 8, four Buddhist extremists approached the home of pastor Pradeep Kumara in Weeraketiya, Hambanthota district, calling for him to come out and threatening to kill him.
This is destructive propaganda. That fact is no Buddhist would do such a thing (Majjhima Nikaya, 129: Balapanditasutta). You besmirch Buddhism when you should be criticising those who may have done such a thing.
But then, as a Baptist you have a vested interest in bringing the world to war (Matt25), as do Catholics and Moslems (Isaiah and Daniel).
Buddhism has no history of war and the publisher of the article would have end such an enviable record. The fact is Buddhism has proven it can deliver world peace. Biblical and Koranic religions are inseparable from war.