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Who are Sri Lanka's Christians?

Catholics & Cultures contributor, editor offers Catholic context on recent attacks
Publication: 
The Conversation
Release Date: 
April 21, 2019

By Mathew N. Schmalz

At least 200 people have been killed in several coordinated bomb attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter.

Several Christian communities spread across the island nation were targeted in the attack: Suicide bombers detonated one set of bombs at churches in the cities of Colombo and Negombo on the western coast, home to many Sinhalese-speaking Catholics. Another was detonated in a Protestant church 200 miles away – in Batticaloa, a city in the Tamil majority eastern side of the island.

As a Catholic religious studies researcher and professor, I lived in Sri Lanka in the fall of 2013 and did research on Catholicism in both the southwest and northern parts of the country. Approximately, 7% of Sri Lanka’s 21 million are Christian. The majority of them are Roman Catholic.

Sri Lanka’s Christians have a long history that reflects the dynamics of colonialism as well as present-day ethnic and religious tensions.

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