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Asia

2011-12-17

ASIA/SRI LANKA-Proposal for an "anti-conversion Law"; Christians discriminated in building permits

Colombo (Agenzia Fides) - The request to enact an "anti-conversion law" makes a comeback on the public scene which forbids a citizen to change his/her faith, except in specific cases and with the permission of a magistrate . This is what the "Jathika Hela Urumaya" (JHU), ultra-nationalist, Sinhalese and Buddhist movement proposes, composed of many Buddhist monks, who for 7 years have made this proposal a tool for political rise, leading to elect nine monks in Parliament. In past days, inform local sources of Fides, the party renewed its campaign which sees in other religions "contamination for the country", urging the government to reinstate the prohibition of conversion. The request is of concern among the Christians in Sri Lanka, who support the freedom of conscience and religion of each individual, which the state cannot influence.
Another wake-up call for Christians in Sri Lanka, note sources of Fides, is the attitude of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, which has ordered the closure of "non-authorized churches" and continues to refuse the official registration, and denies planning permissions (also for civil buildings, not used for worship) whether the applicant is an individual or a Christian organization. The Ministry issued, last September, a circular letter which specifies that "the construction or maintenance of places of worship must have prior approval of the Ministry." According to Fides sources, it is mainly the evangelical Christian churches to face increased pressure in society, both by the state, with the closure of premises used as churches, but also by the Buddhist nationalist movements. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 17/12/2011)

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