A Sri Lankan pastor was served with a notice barring him from holding church services in his home.
The pastor in Padavi Sripura (Anuradhapura District) received the letter from Padavi Sripura Divisional Secretariat on 8 January.
The letter – citing communications between the police and Sri Lanka’s central government – asserted that express permission is required for a building to be used as a place of religious worship.
The letter added that there were objections to Christian worship taking place in the pastor’s home from the Pradeshiya Sasanarakshaka (the local authority overseeing Buddhist affairs).
The pastor, who has been using his home for worship since 2013, said that he has sought this permission several times, but has received no response from the Ministry of Buddhasasana and Religious Affairs (the Sri Lankan government’s department with oversight of religious policy).
A Barnabas Fund contact explained that the law does not in fact require official registration for places of worship.
“The government is trying to get the information about house churches,” he explained. “This is a new development by the Ministry of Buddhasasana and Religious Affairs trying to crack down on house churches.
“Many have applied for permission, but the officials have not responded with any proper approval documentation.”
Sri Lankan Christians, who make up 8% of the population, suffer discrimination and harassment and sometimes violence from Buddhist extremists, Muslim extremists and Hindu extremists.
From Barnabas Fund contacts
Ask that the Lord will give wisdom to pastors and church leaders as to how they may continue to meet for worship and conduct their regular activities. Pray that churches will not be closed down or forced to meet unlawfully, but that Christians will be able to live out their faith in peace.