Participation at the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom and Interfaith Dialogue Exchange Programme July 13-27, 2019

Ms. Yamini Ravidran – Director of Religious Liberty and Social Justice of NCEASL, Executive Director of the Religious Liberty Commission

Mr. Godfrey Yogarajah – Deputy CEO of WEA, General Secretary of NCEASL

Ms Yamini Ravindran and Mr. Godfrey Yogarajah attended the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom (July 16–18, 2019) organised by the US State Department.

The Ministerial brings together leaders, civil society actors and other stakeholders from around the world to discuss challenges facing religious freedom, identify means to address religious persecution and discrimination worldwide, and promote greater respect and preservation of religious liberty for all.

Ms Ravindran addressed the gathering on the opening day, speaking on behalf of the Evangelical Christian community in Sri Lanka in the wake of the Easter Sunday terror attacks. She relayed the story of 06-year-old Debby, a victim of the attack on the Zion Church in Batticaloa and detailed her slow and painful recovery. She further voiced concerns relating to incidents of violence following the attacks.

While at the Ministerial, Ms Ravindran met and liaised with Secretary Mike Pompeo and highlighted a number of pressing concerns facing the Sri Lankan Evangelical Christian community. She emphasised the need for the official recognition of Evangelicals and the introduction of a special desk within the Department of Christian Religious Affairs to probe the issues facing Evangelicals.  She further highlighted the need to revoke the circular issued by the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) in 2008, which regulations registration constructions of places of worship.

She also met with representatives of the State Department; the Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback; and President Donald Trump.

Furthermore, Ms Ravindran and Mr Godfrey Yogarajah met with Christina James, the Foreign Affairs Officer at the Office of South and Central Asia of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, to discuss trends in religious persecution in Sri Lanka and Asia. They also met with Lucius Thompson, the Director for Security at the McLean Bible Church, to discuss physical security considerations for Sri Lankan churches. As a result of this meeting, Mr Thompson agreed to travel to Sri Lanka and conduct a training of trainers on physical security measures and important consideration which should be adopted by vulnerable churches.

Other Advocacy Activities by Religious Liberty Commission:

  1. Written submissions to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHR) on the 39th, 40th and 41st Regular Sessions of the UNHRC during the reporting period. 
  2. In partnership with WEA RLC, conducted national training to over 40 pastors, women, lawyers and youth in Vietnam on the importance of advocacy for religious freedom, biblical basis for human rights, and the use of social media for advocacy.  
  3. Met with the UN Special Rapporteur on the freedom of religion or belief, Ahmed Shaheed on August 16, 2019 during his official visit to assess the religious freedom landscape. The Executive Director raised issues of religious violence, discrimination, legal restrictions, the lack of recognition for Evangelical Christians.

NCEASL Interventions for Sri Lanka Easter Sunday Bombing Victims

Sri Lanka faced a series of devastating bombings last Easter Sunday, targeted at Christian devotees attending Easter Sunday worship services and Easter celebrations at luxury hotels. The reported death toll following these attacks currently stands over 359 people, including women and children. The attacks purportedly carried out by an Islamist terrorist group has left a hole in the fabric of society and resulted in rising tensions between communities.

As a response to the ongoing crisis, the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL) has rallied to reach out and rebuild families and communities affected by this tragedy in whatever way we can (written statement made by NCEASL). While these heinous attacks targeted Christians, the blasts killed indiscriminately and victimised more than just the Christian community. The grief and horror of these events is felt by all Sri Lankans.

Proposed Amendments in Bulgaria’s Law on Religious Denominations

Pray for peaceful protests about a review of the proposed amendments in Bulgaria’s Law on Religious Denominations. Held by Evangelicals Pastors of Bulgaria, the demonstrations have been going since December 13, 2018. Bulgarian Parliament prepares a law on religious freedom, which can affect religious minorities as: Evangelicals, Baptists, Seventh-Day Adventists, Pentecostals, Catholics, Jews, Muslims and others.

More about what happen in Bulgaria and how you can help with you prayer, please click the links below:

Interview with Pastor Vlady Raichinov, Vice President of the Bulgarian Evangelical Alliance.

After a Whiteout Demonstration Bulgaria Evangelicals Call Off Protest for Christmas

Photo Source Link: click here

SRI LANKA NEEDS PRAYERS

Sri Lanka is currently facing an unprecedented constitutional and political crisis. On 26th October, the former president Mahinda Rajapakse was appointed as the Prime Minister in a unconstitutional and unprecedent manner. This has led to an immense sense of unrest and instability in our country. At the moment, both Prime Ministers take the view that they are effective and both constitutional.

This unfortunate state of affairs has led to a great sense of instability and unrest in Sri Lanka. The political climate present, is very uncertain with rival political parties both attempting to gain power.

Some of the unfortunate incidents have occurred with most concerning is that of a pastor (from the western province) who was abducted, physically assaulted and severely beaten, he was later dropped off in a rural area– presently he is hospitalized. The information we received concerning this incident is that he was abducted because he was building a church in the area he was residing.

Please uphold Sri Lanka’s political crisis and the church in prayers:

  1. For the position of Prime Minister to be filled in accordance to the divine will of God.
  2. For the prevalence of peace and unity in Sri Lanka.
  3. For democracy, constitutional principles and the rule of law to be upheld.
  4. For further violence and panic to not grip the country or its citizens.
  5. For strength for the Sri Lankan Church to carry out its ministry unhindered during this time of political turmoil.
  6. For strength for the NCEASL to carry out its work during this time of political turmoil.

Please find attached document with a summary of the series of incidents and the legal argument for and against it.

Blessings and warmest regards,

Yamini Ravindran (Attorney-at-Law, LL.B)
Head, Legal & Advocacy 
Religious Liberty & Social Justice Commission
National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka

Consultation on Defending Religious Freedom: A Legal Perspective Colombo, Sri Lanka

Persecution against the church in the South Asian region has continuously increased over the past few years. According to the World Watch List for the period of 2017/2018, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are within the top 50 countries where persecution against Christians is highest.1 One of the main reasons behind this has been the rise of religious nationalism in the region. For instance, India and Nepal have witnessed the spread of the Hindutva ideology by extremist groups such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its affiliates and Sri Lanka has seen the rise of the Buddhist nationalist ideology by groups such as the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS). Continue reading “Consultation on Defending Religious Freedom: A Legal Perspective Colombo, Sri Lanka”

The Triune God: Creation, Church and Consummation

Statement of The Asia Church Congress Theological Consultation Bangkok, Thailand 20 to 22 August, 2013 Asia Evangelical Alliance
30 August 2013

Shape and Focus

We, the members of the Asia Evangelical Alliance Theological Commission (AEA: TC), along with church leaders from Asia, gathered for The Asia Church Congress Theological Consultation. The leaders from twelve Asian countries represented a broad spectrum of denominations and confessions, including Evangelical, Pentecostal, Methodist, Reformed, Presbyterian, Baptist, Nazarene, Christian and Missionary Alliance and Independent. The topic was The Triune God: Creation, Church and Consummation, with the key verse: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams” (Acts 2:17).

Continue reading “The Triune God: Creation, Church and Consummation”

United India Votes for Stability

20 May 2009

New Delhi: The Indian voter has spoken – clearly, decisively and positively. Confounding the politicians, pollsters and pundits, the Indian National Congress party and the rump United Progressive Alliance (UPA) have received a resounding vote of confidence taking them into majority territory on their own. Even the optimistic Congress party was pleasantly surprised and the overconfident Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) still does not know what hit them. As the BJP introspects they should consider the voters’ verdict against the politics of polarization.
Continue reading “United India Votes for Stability”