The Buddhist hierarchy in Sri Lanka, hoping to curb the growth of Christianity, is pressing the government to enact laws against conversion.

The All Ceylon Buddhist Congress called for 100,000 Buddhists to march on the capital this month to emphasize its resolve before the government.

However, recent clashes between Hindu Tamil rebels fighting for an independent state and the Buddhist Sinhala majority have indirectly sidetracked the planned demonstration. Increased security in the capital, Colombo, could result in the suspension of any public demonstrations for the time being, speculates one evangelical pastor.

Since Buddhists began calling for the anticonversion legislation, Christians in Sri Lanka have organized prayer vigils, which they say are responsible for the apparent reprieve.

The Colombo pastor, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals, said, “We’ve been lobbying some of the Christian members of the Cabinet. They say [restrictive legislation] won’t come like that. I think the government will try to put it under a ‘religious harmony’ law … and then restrict us.”

Increased attacks against Christians in outlying villages have raised concern that Buddhists have initiated a “scorched earth” strategy to make life intolerable for believers. In June, three national missionaries working in a remote village were assaulted by 15 Buddhist monks, who destroyed their belongings, evicted them from the village, and burned their Bibles.

In another town, a local witch doctor converted to Christianity, and his demon-possessed wife was healed after Christians prayed for her. Three hundred people reportedly surrounded his house and demanded he reconvert. When he refused, villagers cut off his water supply, banned him from shopping ...

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