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Sri Lanka: ‘Christians face a lot of challenges…They’re unable to reach top positions even if they have talents’

According to tradition, St. Thomas the Apostle brought Christianity to Sri Lanka. The growing Evangelical Protestant community is subject to increasingly harassment and discrimination from Hindus and Buddhists.

For previous coverage of the threats to religious freedom worldwide, see here.

“‘Ever-Present’ Persecution in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka,” International Christian Concern, November 30, 2023:

…Another South Asian nation, Sri Lanka, has an unusual degree of religious diversity, with four major religions forming considerable percentages of the population (about 70% Buddhist, a bit more than 10% Hindu, and Christians and Muslims each a bit under 10%). 

Aside from the catastrophic 2019 Easter bombings that struck multiple churches and luxury resorts, persecution of Sri Lanka’s Christians typically isn’t of the sort that makes headlines. And yet it can be a constant issue. 

Elias (real name withheld to protect identity), a Catholic in northern Sri Lanka, says he doesn’t know of any cases of Sri Lankans having their land taken specifically because of their Christian faith.  

“But when it comes to the workplace, [Sri Lankan] Christians face a lot of challenges,” he says. “They need to work harder than the other laborers to survive in that workplace.” And in many cases, “They’re unable to reach the top positions even if they have talents to lead,” he adds.  

Persecution against Christians in Sri Lanka is often linked to Buddhist nationalism that is prominent among the majority ethnic group, known as the Sinhalese.  

But Elias says that Sri Lanka’s Muslims persecute against Christians in a way that is disproportionately stronger than the part of the overall population they form. This type of persecution, he says, is more pronounced on the country’s eastern coast, which has a higher Muslim population….

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