By Martin Roth
Time magazine confirms what many Christians already knew – that Buddhism too has its extremists, and persecution of Christians is a fact in parts of the Buddhist world.
Laos – a Buddhist and a Marxist-Leninist nation – ranks at Number 18 on the Open Doors World Watch List of the 50 countries where Christians face the harshest persecution. Vietnam is Number 21 and Myanmar is Number 32.
The Time report concerns mainly Buddhist opposition to Islam, though it notes: “In Sri Lanka, where a conservative, pro-Buddhist government reigns, Buddhist nationalist groups are operating with apparent impunity, looting Muslim and Christian establishments.”
The Baptist Press has an excellent summary of a growing wave of disturbing incidents in Sri Lanka:
International Christian Concern reported that 2012 and 2013 have seen a dramatic increase in Christian persecution in Sri Lanka, including Christians being attacked in more than 50 incidents in 2012 alone for practicing their faith. Reports of Christian pastors and their families being threatened and having their homes firebombed have almost become common, ICC said.
Catholic World News cited a bishop May 1 in Sri Lanka who said the cause of the uptick in persecution is the growth of what he calls the “Buddhist Taliban.”
…In March, a large mob attacked a pastor’s home while the family was away and began damaging the property, demanding an end to the church services in the home, ICC said May 5.
The same pastor had been accosted and threatened by a group of Buddhists telling him to close down the church late last year, the human rights organization said. The protesters returned the next day and attacked the building during a worship service, injuring the pastor.
Also in March, more than 10 churches faced persecution in the form of threats, disturbances, harassment or attacks, mostly from Buddhist monks but sometimes with the assistance of the police or a mob, ICC said.
Last summer, a 14-year-old boy, the only Christian in his class at school, reportedly was severely beaten and threatened with death if he did not stop spreading Christianity.