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Sri Lanka: Violence and Anti-Conversion Threat (Plus Korean Hope)

May 17, 2006

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SRI LANKA: VIOLENCE AND ANTI-CONVERSION THREAT (Plus KOREAN HOPE)
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The Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU or National Heritage Party) is a
political party of right-wing Buddhist monks whose agenda is to
turn Sri Lanka into a Buddhist state with Buddhism as the official
state religion and conversions out of Buddhism banned. They
describe Christianity as foreign, aggressive and a threat to social
harmony. They also oppose federalism and autonomy for Tamils. In
September 2005 the JHU signed a quid pro quo deal with the then
presidential candidate Mahinda Rajapakse. Rajapakse, who is happy
to play ethnic and religious communal politics, then won a narrow
victory in the November 2005 presidential elections after the
Tamils in LTTE-controlled areas boycotted the elections. (LTTE:
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.) Rajapakse\'s win greatly
strengthens the hand of the JHU, as may the present LTTE
aggression.

In August 2004 Sri Lanka\'s Supreme Court ruled that parts of
proposed anti-conversion legislation needed to be amended. In May
2005 an amended draft was tentatively approved. However, the
continued Tsunami redevelopment effort, the presidential elections
and the subsequent breakdown in peace negotiations with LTTE kept
the anti-conversion legislation on the back-burner. On 5 April 2006
Sri Lanka\'s parliament appointed a 19-member committee to review
the anti-conversion legislation again so it can be presented to the
parliament for a final vote. The draft Bill on Prohibition of
Forcible Conversion calls for prison sentences of up to five years
and/or a fine for anyone found guilty of converting others \'by
force or by allurement or by any fraudulent means\'. The definitions
of these terms ensures all conversions may be deemed illegal.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka\'s Christian minority continues to face anti-
Christian protests and violence from militant Buddhist
nationalists. On Sundays 9 and 16 April a Methodist church in
Piliyandala, southeast of Colombo, was beset with angry anti-
Christian protest rallies. Then on Sundays 23 and 30 April the
protesters turned to violence. Only police intervention prevented
serious damage or injury. Compass Direct (CD) reports an Assembly
of God church in Piliyandala also is facing intense opposition. CD
reports too that on Saturday 6 May the pastor of the United
Christian Fellowship in Poddala, Galle district, was threatened.
The pastor and a construction worker were building a community hall
on land they had purchased. The mob assaulted the construction
worker and threatened to torch the hall if construction continued.


PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR:

* God\'s Spirit to work amongst Sri Lanka\'s Members of Parliament,
so that more will resist communal politics and uphold religious
freedom, justice and rule of law, so believers may worship and
serve the Lord in peace and the gospel of salvation may continue
to spread.

* God to protect his Church in Sri Lanka, especially pastors and
evangelists who are the targets of militant Buddhist
nationalists; may these days of hardship be days of deep
spiritual growth and powerful, effective witness.

* a strong and deep sense of brotherly love, solidarity and
Christian unity to well up within all Sri Lanka\'s churches
across denominational, racial, and class lines, moving believers
to help, encourage and support each other through these trying
times. (John 13:34,35)

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SUMMARY TO USE IN BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE:
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VIOLENCE AND ANTI-CONVERSION THREAT IN SRI LANKA

During 2005 the ongoing Tsunami reconstruction effort, the
presidential elections and the subsequent breakdown of peace with
the Tamil Tigers ensured Sri Lanka\'s anti-conversion legislation
remained on the back-burner. However, a 19-member panel is
currently reviewing the legislation again before it returns to
parliament for a final vote. Please pray that the parliament will
reject communal politics and uphold religious freedom. Pray also
for the persecuted Sri Lankan Church which faces a persistent
barrage of protest and violence from Buddhist nationalists, usually
led by militant monks.

\'May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.\'
(Romans 15:13 ESV)

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* Extra: KOREAN HOPE

At their historic summit in July 2000 South and North Korea agreed
to reconnect cross-border rail lines. Now, nearly six years later
and 55 years after they were cut during the Korean War, two cross-
border lines are about to be trialled. According to the Korea Times
test trains will be run between stations either side of the border.
The western Kyongui line should eventually link Seoul and Sinuiju
in the North. The long-term goal for the eastern Tonghae line is to
link it to the trans-China or trans-Russia railway to Europe,
creating an \'Iron Silk Road\'. On Thursday 25 May trains are slated
to cross the demilitarised zone for the first time in half a
century.

This week, military authorities from both sides will meet in the
truce village of Panmunjom to sign an agreement guaranteeing secure
passage of railroad cars and passengers on each other\'s side of the
border. Please pray for these meetings and for the trials. Positive
cross-border engagement reinforces the desirability of a
comprehensive peace accord. Pray for God to direct hearts and
create openings for his purposes and his glory.

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The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this
RL Prayer List to help individuals and groups pray
specifically and regularly for religious liberty
issues, and in particular to uphold the Church
where it is suffering persecution.

RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner
of the WEA RLC and convenor of the Australian EA RLC.
Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.