Christians raise concerns over threats

The National Christian Fellowship Sri Lanka (NCFSL) which represents over 200 indigenous Churches in Sri Lanka, says it views with serious concern the sudden escalation of violence directed towards Pastors, Christian Workers and religious places of Worship all over Sri Lanka during the recent months. The NCFSL, in a statement, said it can confirms that 23 such incidents have been reported for the year 2013.
“As Sri Lankans, we are also concerned about the wrongful and distorted bias reporting of some of the electronic as well as print media concerning such attacks. We have documented cases of intimidation, threats, violence and arson, all this in the causeof religious intolerance,” Rev RohanEkanayake General Secretary of the NCFSL said.
“We note that Sri  Lanka has suffered greatly through two major insurgencies and a thirty year war which tore at the nation’s heart and caused us all great grief. Not to mention the cost of lives as well the damage caused to the economy. As a nation, we need to ask ourselves whether we need yet another ethnic or religious conflict at this moment of time.”
The NCFSL maintains that the laws of natural justice and the Constitution of Sri Lanka in Articles10 and 14 (1)( e)recognize  the individual’s right to adopt and practice the religion of his choice.“We categorically state that communication of the Gospel is an inseparable part of the practice of our faith.  Correspondingly, we recognize the right to every other religion to proclaim its beliefs. Those who recognize this right may also agree that it is unethical to interfere with the expression of the individual‘s freedom to choose.“
The NCFSL believes that the attacks are attempted in order to justify the so called ‘unethical conversion’. “To the Christian, helping the needy is a necessary part of the practice of their religion. The expression of Christian love and concern includes dealing with both the spiritual and the physical need of the person. While asserting the right to do so and the responsibility of Christians to care for the needy, we condemn the use of charity and care for the needy as an inducement to religious proselytization. If there are any offers of material inducements for the purpose of proselytization, we condemn such their methods as abhorrent to Christianity,” says Rev Money Ratnam of the NCFSL.
The NCFSL says that the accusations, intimidation and violence against Christians are biased and illegal and should not be tolerated in a democratic society such as ours; in essence,  it is a denial of the fundamental human rights of its citizens.
NCFSL says it upholds the integrity of a united Sri Lanka.  We condemn the attacks on the Buddhist clergy in Chennai, India. The use of violence as a means of achieving any end is against the teachings of Christ and cannot be condoned. We assert the need for peace and good will on the basis of mutual recognition, honor and respect for all communities in our multi-ethnic and multi-religious society. We call upon the State to uphold the rule of law and to treat all its citizens equally. (Colombo Gazette)