Attacks on places of worship hamper good governance

The Methodist Church of Sri Lanka condemned the attempt to obstruct the legal carrier of Lakshan Dias who stood up for rights of Methodists in Sri Lanka, yesterday.

The Church, in a statement issue under President/Bishop Rev. Asiri P Perera, says that the church observes such obstruction aiming at neutralizing a world-acclaimed HR activist will bring discredit to the country.

The Methodist Church has been serving Sri Lanka since 1814, and during this period, the church, in addition to its Christian religious services, established more than 200 schools and conducted them until they were vested in the State in 1962. Today, the Methodist Church Sri Lanka has more than 300 churches which are worshiping communities islandwide.

During its entire history, the Methodist Church has respected the traditions and religious convictions of the Buddhist, Hindu and Islamic and other religions and has had cordial and good, working relationships with their leaders and organizations. In common issues faced by the people, the Methodist Church has stood up with other religious leaders to bring relief to people.

We have also been able to spread the light of education, overcoming religious barriers, through our schools. For an example, the highly-respected Principals of the famous Buddhist schools Ananda College and Nalanda College P. de S. Kularatna and L. H. Methananda, were products of the schools that were conducted by the Methodist Church.

However, we are sorry to note that a wave of extreme ethnic and religious fanaticism has spread throughout our country for the last 10 years. We hoped that with the dawn of the 'Good Governance Government' in 2015, this wave would have abated and we state that due to the humane and righteous vision and policies of the President and the government, this wave of fanaticism was subdued to a larger extent. But unfortunately, since of late, we have observed this fearful trend raising its head once again. What should be done is that all religions come together to establish and affirm noble human qualities in this country.

There have been incidents where the freedom to worship of our members were obstructed by these extremist religious groups. This has happened in Deniyaya, Habarana, Piliyandala, Kekirawa and Hiniduma areas. On several occasions, mobs led by a few saffron-robed individuals had physically obstructed our members from worshiping. These same groups have obstructed construction of churches in Hiniduma and Buttala which were being done on our own land after obtaining necessary permission from the authorities. We have been conducting worship services in Hiniduma and Buttala areas for about 20 years.

One of the few lawyers who stood up for our cause and acted to protect our rights was Lakshan Dias. We are sorry to note and strongly condemn the attempt to obstruct his legal carrier by some individuals who have been misled by these extremist.

We also observe that such obstruction aiming at neutralizing a world acclaimed Human Rights activist will bring discredit to our country.

We hope and pray that an environment where people of all faiths could practice their religions freely without a hindrance would be dawned in the country as it has been in the past. 

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