Constant fear and intimidation
David Jones on the continuing threat of religious extremism in the world
DUE to the continuing threat of further attacks, it was impossible for churches in Sri Lanka to re-open this Sunday, and so services were transmitted on local and national TV.
Following surveillance by the Sri Lankan military even more bomb-making equipment was discovered and the action that followed resulted in more loss of life.
Such an encounter is a reminder of the continuing threat of religious extremism that exists not only in Sri Lanka but many other countries in the world.
Our thoughts and prayers continue for those who lost their loved ones and for the many who remain in hospital and deeply traumatised by the bombings on Easter Day.
A recent report by the Pew Research Centre confirmed that Christianity is the world’s most persecuted religion.
From China to Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Libya, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Egypt, Myanmar and North Korea Christian minorities are harassed, marginalised, oppressed, exiled with much loss of life.
There is scant acknowledgement of this in the world news media, with much greater reporting of a cathedral fire than the constant fear and intimidation that so many who follow Jesus suffer.
However, of great encouragement was that when these murderous attacks occurred those who ran to help and even now still support the survivors and their families are Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims who joined with Christians and those of no faith to rescue, comfort and give support.
There is a common humanity that binds us together which is beyond and above all religious differences and through such acts challenges the evil of religious extremism.
The message of Jesus is of love, forgiveness and hope. On Easter day this year in Sri Lanka many were subjected to an evil which remains beyond the comprehension of all people of true faith and none.
Whenever and wherever such acts occur every sense of decency, compassion and common good are devoured by the wickedness of such extremism. Such evil will never have the final victory and this was clearly shown by a mother grieving the loss of her son.
Standing with his photograph in front of one of the churches and through her tears, she declared before the world media. “Farewell my son, but just for now”. I’d say Amen to that, because within those words is the Christian hope and assurance that will never allow the bomb makers and teachers of ranting extremism to win the day. The Easter message will soon be proclaimed again from the churches in Sri Lanka: “He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed!”