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Avoid conflict with other faiths, Anglican tells Sri Lankans

CHRISTIANS in Sri Lanka should learn from their mistakes and not antagonise people of other faiths, the Anglican general secretary of the country's National Christian Council, the Revd Dr Jayasiri Peiris, said on Wednesday, after reports that a mob had attacked an Evangelical church on Christmas Day.

The human-rights organisation Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said that about 30 people had accosted members of the King's Revival Church in Alawwa, west central Sri Lanka. They told the pastor not to hold the Christmas service, and told the congregation to disperse.

"I have not heard about this incident," Dr Peiris said on Wednesday. "There have been no such incidents in the recent past."

Generally, the situation was getting better for Christians in Sri Lanka, he said.  "One reason is that Christian groups have realised their mistakes in the past and are correcting themselves."  Alarm was reported among Christians at the government's attempt to outlaw certain types of conversion. But Dr Peiris said this legislation was "very unlikely to pass".

"The issue is how we are going to build the peaceful co-operation of all faiths and all races. The churches must learn lessons from what they have done and not antagonise people of other faiths."

A prominent Christian MP for the Tamil National Alliance Party, Joseph Pararajasingham, was shot dead at the Christmas Eve service at the Roman Catholic cathedral in Batticaloa.

CSW's chief executive, Mervyn Thomas, urged the Sri Lankan government on Tuesday "to be proactive in ensuring protection for Christians: equal rights and freedom of religion for all."

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