Category : Sri Lanka

(Scotsman) Gavin Matthews: We must find the right response to Sri Lanka Easter Sunday massacre

The foundational idea of Easter is that Jesus was ‘given’ to the world. Behind the religious violence of his death, we are invited to believe that, “God so loved the world that he gave his son”, and that Jesus “laid down his life for his friends”. Our first instinct should then be to give to the victims of religious violence and persecution. The Christian charity csw.org.uk works tirelessly for the freedom of religion and belief for people of all faiths and none. Giving to an organisation such as this might be our first response.

Then, on Good Friday, when Jesus was executed by the Roman soldiers, he famously cried out, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” – and this should frame our second response.

Jesus recognised that the foot-soldiers who were setting about his physical destruction were not the authors of his agonies, but were mere pawns in bigger schemes. Critically though, Jesus didn’t send his followers off to indiscriminately kill Roman citizens in response, but prayed for their salvation.

Today, offering Christian forgiveness does not mean that the state should not pursue justice through due process. However, it does mean that we cannot indulge in acts of revenge or hostility to anyone or any community, or propagate cycles of violence.

Read it all.

Posted in Easter, Sri Lanka, Terrorism

(WSJ) Easter Attacks Leave Muslims Shaken and in Fear of Reprisals

In the days after the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka, a group of local men gathered outside the home here of one of the bombers to establish what they called a neighborhood watch—and prevent the Muslim family inside from committing more terrorist acts.

Inside, the bomber’s family grappled with grief over what one of their own had done and fear that his actions could bring reprisals against their Muslim minority.

“It is very hard to face people because of what he did, even just going outside is difficult,” said a sister of the bomber, 22-year-old law-school graduate Ahamed Muath Alawudeen. As she spoke, cries of her distraught mother echoed off the tile floors of the spacious home in an upscale Colombo neighborhood.

Since the Islamic State-linked attacks killed more than 250 people at Sri Lankan churches and hotels, Muslims have reported getting detained in security sweeps for simply carrying the Quran. In other cases, they have been refused access to public buses and taxis. On Sunday night, an apparent car accident in the city of Negombo, the scene of one of the bombings, led to a clash between Muslims and non-Muslims, news reports showed.

Sri Lanka’s Muslims, who make up less than 10% of the island nation’s population, have seen lesser sparks turn into fury against them. Last year, in days of religious riots, mobs of Buddhist extremists targeted Muslims for beatings.

Security forces now deployed across the Sri Lankan capital to prevent more terrorist attacks are also on alert for sectarian reprisals.

Read it all.

Posted in Muslim-Christian relations, Religion & Culture, Sri Lanka, Terrorism

(ABC Aus.) ISIS ‘leader’ mentions Australian jihadist and Sri Lanka Easter bombings in first appearance in five years

A man purported to be reclusive Islamic State (IS) group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has made reference to the Sri Lanka Easter bombings and an Australian IS member in what appears to be his first appearance in five years.

The recently-released propaganda video appears to offer evidence that al-Baghdadi is alive, after many had speculated he had been killed or seriously injured.

The US has vowed to track down and defeat surviving leaders of the Islamic State group after the release of the video.

In the video, a man purporting to be al-Baghdadi acknowledged defeat in the group’s last stronghold — the Syrian village of Baghouz — but vowed a “long battle” ahead.

Read it all.

Posted in Australia / NZ, Religion & Culture, Sri Lanka, Terrorism, Violence

(CT) Ajith Fernando–Six Biblical Responses to Sri Lanka’s Easter Bombings

4) Leave Vengeance to the Lord

In our hearts we must apply the principle of God’s “holy-love” as we think through the situation. The Bible is clear that our holy God punishes wrong. The reason we are to “never avenge [ourselves]” is because we “leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’” (Rom. 12:19). When wrong is done, something in us says, “That deserves to be punished.” That is a biblical sentiment. God has given government officials the authority to be agents of his wrath by punishing wrongdoers (Rom. 13:3–4). We must let justice take its course. But even if it doesn’t take place on earth, we know that it will at the final judgment.

The doctrine of judgment on earth and at the end of time is one of the factors influencing our response to the evil that occurs on earth. God gives us the freedom to take our hands off the revenge cycle. Instead we are told to do what we can do: We are to love our enemies and bless them (Rom. 12:17–21). Without a doctrine of judgment, we would be too bitter to forgive and show love to those who hurt us. Freed from bitterness, we can be agents of healing and reconciliation. This is especially true in a situation like Sri Lanka’s attacks which are being touted as revenge for the Christchurch mosque attacks. We can choose to stop the downward spiral of revenge where violence begets violence and huge destruction results.

Revenge is often considered the honorable response to harm in Sri Lankan culture. It comes out of the correct notion that sin must be punished, but misapplied to personal revenge. We must teach our people that personal revenge does not solve problems. We leave it to the state and to God to handle that. That is a hard lesson for our people to learn. But I believe that when it springs from the doctrine of God, there is a convincing base for people to latch onto. How important to teach these aspects of God’s nature to Christians before tragedy strikes!

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Posted in Christology, Evangelicals, Sri Lanka, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT) Sri Lankan Accused of Leading Attacks Preached Slaughter. Many Dismissed Him.

Zaharan Hashim, a radical Muslim preacher accused of masterminding the Easter Sunday attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka, never hid his hatred.

He railed against a local performance in which Muslim girls dared to dance. When a Muslim politician held a 50th birthday party, he raged about how Western infidel traditions were poisoning his hometown, Kattankudy.

There were, Mr. Zaharan said in one of his online sermons, three types of people: Muslims, those who had reached an accord with Muslims, and “people who need to be killed.”

Idolaters, he added, “need to be slaughtered wherever you see them.”

Mr. Zaharan has been described by Sri Lankan officials as having founded an obscure group with inchoate aims: a defacement of a Buddha statue, a diatribe against Sufi mystics.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sri Lanka, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

A Statement from Archbishop Ben Kwashi, following the Easter Sunday atrocities in Sri Lanka

Greetings to you in Peace.

Yesterday suicide bombers unleashed death and destruction as unsuspecting Sri Lankan Christians gathered to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. Together with those killed in hotels, the death toll has reached 310, with many more injured, and our hearts go out in prayer for all who have been caught up in these deeply traumatic events.

News of this atrocity came through just before I preached at All Souls Langham Place and let me repeat what I said then, “The resurrection of Jesus is a total defeat of death and of those who would want to use death to scare people off from faith in Jesus. His resurrection has made death powerless against all who believe in Jesus Christ.”

At our recent conference in Dubai, Gafcon resolved to stand with the Suffering Church and this will be a leading agenda item for our Primates Council as it meets in Sydney next week. Meanwhile, in this Easter week let us remember that the one who drew alongside two sad and discouraged disciples on the Emmaus road was the Risen Christ who yet still bore the wounds of the cross. By death he has destroyed death and he will be with us until the very end in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Risen Lord be with you!

 

Archbishop Ben Kwashi, Gafcon General Secretary

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Easter, Eschatology, GAFCON, Sri Lanka, Terrorism, Theology

(NYT Op-ed) Are Christians Privileged or Persecuted? How Western liberalism’s peculiar relationship to its Christian heritage leaves non-Western Christians exposed

The murderous radicals who set off bombs and killed hundreds on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka chose their targets with ideological purpose. Three Catholic churches were bombed, and with them three hotels catering to Western tourists, because often in the jihadist imagination Western Christianity and Western liberal individualism are the conjoined enemies of their longed-for religious utopia, their religious-totalitarian version of Islam. Tourists and missionaries, Coca-Cola and the Catholic Church — it’s all the same invading Christian enemy, different brand names for the same old crusade.

Officially, the Western world’s political and cultural elite does its best to undercut and push back against this narrative. The liberal imagination reacts with discomfort to the Samuel Huntingtonian idea of a clash of civilizations, or anything that pits a unitary “West” against an Islamist or Islamic alternative. The idea of a “Christian West” is particularly forcefully rejected, but even more banal terms like “Western Civilization” and “Judeo-Christian,” once intended to offer a more ecumenical narrative of Euro-American history, are now seen as dangerous, exclusivist, chauvinist, alt-right.

And yet there is also a way in which liberal discourse in the West implicitly accepts part of the terrorists’ premise — by treating Christianity as a cultural possession of contemporary liberalism, a particularly Western religious inheritance that even those who no longer really believe have a special obligation to remake and reform. With one hand elite liberalism seeks to keep Christianity at arm’s length, to reject any specifically Christian identity for the society it aims to rule — but with the other it treats Christianity as something that really exists only in relationship to its own secularized humanitarianism, either as a tamed and therefore useful chaplaincy or as an embarrassing, in-need-of-correction uncle.

You could see both those impulses at work in the discussion following the great fire at Notre-Dame. On the one hand there was a strident liberal reaction against readings of the tragedy that seemed too friendly to either medieval Catholicism or some religiously infused conception of the West. A few tweets from the conservative writer Ben Shapiro, which used phrases like “Western Civilization” and “Judeo-Christian” while lamenting the conflagration, prompted accusations that he was ignoring the awfulness of medieval-Catholic anti-Semitism, and also that his Western-civ language was just a dog-whistle for white nationalists.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Easter, Religion & Culture, Sri Lanka, Terrorism

(Crux) John Allen–Easter attacks on churches in Sri Lanka are tragic, but hardly surprising

Sadly enough, there’s now an ugly and utterly predictable dynamic on Easter Sunday: Somewhere in the world, full churches will be attacked and some number of Christians will die for no other reason than that they chose to attend services to celebrate what is supposed to be the faith’s great celebration of life.

Today, it happened in Sri Lanka, where, as of this writing, at least 138 people have been killed and more than 560 injured after coordinated bomb blasts hit a number of high-end hotels and churches across the country.

At St. Sebastian’s in Katuwapitiya, located in a heavily Catholic neighborhood north of Colombo known as “little Rome,” more than 50 people had been killed, a police official told Reuters, with pictures showing bodies on the ground, blood on the pews and a destroyed roof.

In all, three churches and three hotels were struck in what seemed a calculated attack on “foreigners” – both the sorts of foreign visitors who stay in four and five-star hotels, and faiths perceived as “foreign” by nationalists and extremists.

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Posted in Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Sri Lanka, Terrorism, Violence

‘Why Kill the Innocents?’ Sri Lankans Mourn Bombing Victims

The little room, like much of Sri Lanka, could hold no more grief.

All day Monday, through the steamy heat, mourners quietly stepped inside and paused in front of a sealed coffin containing what was left of Sneha Savindi Fernando.

Sneha was 11 years old and standing in line for communion at Easter Mass on Sunday when she was blown apart.

“Why did you leave me?” her grandmother cried, sitting in front of the coffin and rubbing its sides, the anguish tight in her hands. “There are so many bad people in the world. Why kill the innocents?”

It was a question all of Sri Lanka was asking.

The day after suicide bombers carried out coordinated attacks on half a dozen hotels and churches across this island nation, Sri Lanka remained in shock. The death toll continued to climb, with the authorities saying the attacks had killed at least 290 people.

Read it all.

Posted in Religion & Culture, Sri Lanka, Terrorism, Violence

(NYT) Where Countries Are Tinderboxes and Facebook Is a Match

As Facebook pushes into developing countries, it tends to be initially received as a force for good.

In Sri Lanka, it keeps families in touch even as many work abroad. It provides for unprecedented open expression and access to information. Government officials say it was essential for the democratic transition that swept them into office in 2015.

But where institutions are weak or undeveloped, Facebook’s newsfeed can inadvertently amplify dangerous tendencies. Designed to maximize user time on site, it promotes whatever wins the most attention. Posts that tap into negative, primal emotions like anger or fear, studies have found, produce the highest engagement, and so proliferate.

In the Western countries for which Facebook was designed, this leads to online arguments, angry identity politics and polarization. But in developing countries, Facebook is often perceived as synonymous with the internet and reputable sources are scarce, allowing emotionally charged rumors to run rampant. Shared among trusted friends and family members, they can become conventional wisdom.

And where people do not feel they can rely on the police or courts to keep them safe, research shows, panic over a perceived threat can lead some to take matters into their own hands — to lynch.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Buddhism, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Religion & Culture, Sri Lanka

(ACNS) Cast vote for common good, says Anglican Diocese of Colombo

The Diocese of Colombo of the Church of Ceylon has called on political parties and voters to take a stand against corruption and greed in upcoming parliamentary elections.

On 26 June a government spokesperson announced that Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena had dissolved parliament in an effort to clear the way for needed reforms. Voting to elect a new 225-member Parliament is set for 17 August, ten months ahead of schedule.

In a statement to diocesan parishes and the media, the Rt Revd Dhiloraj Ranjit Canagasabey, Bishop of Colombo, underlined the need for reform.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sri Lanka, Theology

(WwM) Sri Lanka’s Christians protest after January attacks

More than 2,000 Christians gathered in Colombo on Sunday (January 26) to protest against a perceived lack of religious freedom in Sri Lanka, following recent attacks on Christian places of worship by Buddhist extremists.

Two churches and a Christian prayer centre were attacked on Jan. 12 by Buddhist mobs claiming they were illegal and aiming to take Buddhists away from their religion.

The prayer centre, belonging to the Church of the Foursquare Gospel in Pitipana, near Colombo, was set alight on the same day as attacks on the Assemblies of God Church and Calvary Free Church in the southern coastal town of Hikkaduwa.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Buddhism, Inter-Faith Relations, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Sri Lanka, Violence

(BBC Magazine) Alan Strathern–Why are Buddhist monks attacking Muslims?

Of all the moral precepts instilled in Buddhist monks the promise not to kill comes first, and the principle of non-violence is arguably more central to Buddhism than any other major religion. So why have monks been using hate speech against Muslims and joining mobs that have left dozens dead?

This is happening in two countries separated by well over 1,000 miles of Indian Ocean – Burma and Sri Lanka. It is puzzling because neither country is facing an Islamist militant threat. Muslims in both places are a generally peaceable and small minority.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Buddhism, Islam, Myanmar/Burma, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Sri Lanka, Violence

(ACNS) "Repent, fast, lament for your nation" – Sri Lanka bishop

The Bishop of Colombo has called members of the Church of Ceylon to fast, pray and lament over the state of the nation of Sri Lanka after what he described as “the complete collapse of the rule of law” there.

[the] Rt. Revd Dhiloraj Canagasabey was writing after the Government impeached Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake over allegations of financial and official misconduct. She denies the allegations and her removal was pronounced unlawful by the courts and condemned by the opposition.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Sri Lanka

(Christanity Today) Ajith Fernando: A Leader Forged On the Anvil of Suffering

He schooled himself to change””a long, slow transformation. Once, leading a [Youth for Christ] YFC camp in a remote Sri Lankan village, he decided that years of study had finally made him ready to lead music in the Sinhala language. Afterwards, he stumbled into an informal gathering of young YFC volunteers. As he entered, he overheard them laughing at his Sinhala singing and mimicking him.

He lived simply. YFC salaries were based on family size and experience, not on position. Fernando made no more than others, and he made sure his home and lifestyle were in no way intimidating to the most simple village people who might visit.

Not only did he change, his teaching changed. Considering the prevailing liberalism, he began to teach about the supremacy of Christ, a difficult and controversial message in a country where most religions are pluralistic. He was convinced that without belief in hell and the unique power of Jesus to save, Christians lost the urgency of witness. “I still preach about [those topics] in the West,” he says, although the rise of Pentecostalism means that they are no longer pressing issues for the Asian church.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Evangelicals, Globalization, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Sri Lanka, Teens / Youth, Theology, Young Adults

(ENI) Global Alliance calls for Religious Freedom in Sri Lanka

A group of more than 30 religious organizations from 20 countries is calling on Sri Lanka to ensure religious freedom for Christian groups.

In a so-called “Colombo statement,” named after the Sri Lankan capital city, the group called the Religious Liberty Partnership (RLP) asked the worldwide church to pray “against the continued violent attacks on clergy and places of Christian worship,” and for the enjoyment of “constitutional guarantees on religious freedom” by all religious groups.

Members of the RLP include Release International, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Open Doors, and the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA).

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sri Lanka

15th Bishop of Colombo of the Church of Sri Lanka ordained

Read it all–loved the pictures.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Asia, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s Anglican Diocese of Colombo elects new Bishop

Sri Lanka’s Anglican Diocese of Colombo, a short while ago elected Ven. Dhiloraj Canakasabey, uncontested, as the fifteenth Bishop of Colombo.

The Diocesan Council of the Diocese of Colombo of the Church of Ceylon (Anglican Church) elected the incumbent Archdeacon of Nuwara Eliya, Ven. Dhiloraj Canakasabey as the shepherd for the Anglican Seat of Colombo.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Asia, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s Anglican Bishop Duleep de Chickera to step down

Sri Lanka’s Anglican Bishop of Colombo, Rt. Rev. Duleep Kamil De Chickera, yesterday (December 19, 2010) announced that he will step down from the mantle of the ”˜See of Colombo’.

Bishop Chickera who is learnt to step down effective from December 31, 2010 had also said that he would leave the country once a successor is found for his office.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Asia, Sri Lanka

(AFP) Sri Lanka Premier wins constitution vote

Sri Lanka’s parliament on Wednesday passed constitutional reforms enabling President Mahinda Rajapakse to seek a third term, in changes critics say point to the country’s slide into autocracy….

The bill was also condemned by lawyers, rights groups and some religious groups, who have criticised the lack of public scrutiny.

The head of the Sri Lankan Anglican church, Bishop Duleep de Chickera, said the move “will inevitably lead to a further, dangerous politicisation of our national institutions and a speedier, destructive erosion of our already fragile democratic culture.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sri Lanka

Australian Asylum policy criticised by Anglican Primate

The recent Labor cabinet decision to suspend the processing of new asylum applications from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan for three and six months respectively has prompted the Anglican Primate of Australia, Archbishop Phillip Aspinall to write to the Federal Labor government.

Dr Aspinall, the Archbishop of Brisbane, questioned how such a decision could be made when the United Nations Refugee Agency, which has been conducting a review, had not yet reported its findings. The UN, at this time, did not support a suspension of applications from those countries.

“The Australian Government says asylum seekers should only be granted the right to live in Australia if they are genuinely in need of protection,” he said. “I agree that this is a complex issue, but genuine asylum seekers are deeply distressed when forced to flee their homeland. They should be treated with compassion and dignity.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Asia, Australia / NZ, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Sri Lanka

Catholic and Anglican bishops say Sri Lankan elections broke laws

The recent presidential elections in Sri Lanka violated democratic boundaries through “willful violations” of election laws and did not address the concerns of the Tamil minority, Catholic and Anglican bishops in the country have said in a joint statement.

Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa won a landslide victory over former army chief Sarath Foneska in January’s “acrimonious” elections, according to Caritas. The election followed the government victory over the Tamil Tiger (LTTE) rebels.

Since the elections, Foneska has been arrested, parliament has been dissolved and parliamentary elections have been called for April. Riots have occurred in the capital and a journalist has disappeared.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Asia, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sri Lanka