Sri Lanka is #46 on the Open Doors World Watch List—a comprehensive ranking of the most difficult places in the world to be a Christian. This means it is not one of the ten or twenty most hostile countries, where this sort of violence would be expected. But life for Christians can still be challenging there.
Local Christian leaders and our staff have reported they face tensions between some adherents of the majority religion, Buddhism, and another minority group, Muslims. (Christians in Sri Lanka are the smallest religion in the country, making up just 1.9 million of the 21-million-person population.)
Typically, these believers are subject to harassment, discrimination, or exclusion from their families and communities. Sometimes they are pressured to return to the native Buddhist faith.
Open Doors has seen Christian churches attacked by its neighbors and mom protests outside of churches. For example, in September of 2018, a group of 100 people interrupted the worship service at a church at Beliatta. They damaged a window and vehicles in the parking lot, they took down crosses, and they threatened to kill the pastor. Still, with routine harassment and violence going on, we had no reason to expect the scale of attack that unfolded in Sri Lanka a few days ago. The severity and coordination seen in this attack is truly unprecedented in this part of the world.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Carl Court/Staff