A televangelist and founder of the “Global Glorious Church,” Pastor Jerome Fernando, has ignited a storm of controversy in Sri Lanka with derogatory statements targeting Buddha and other religions.
His remarks, which have been circulating on social media, have created a climate of tension and outrage, said a report on AsiaNews.
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, archbishop of Colombo, had to issue a statement clarifying that Pastor Fernando is not a Catholic priest and has no affiliation with the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka.
The cardinal also questioned why the authorities have yet to investigate those who propagate false religious beliefs and manipulate people’s minds in the country.
Responding to the controversy, the Nawa Bikshu Peramuna (“New Buddhist Front”) and the Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) party have lodged a complaint, demanding the immediate arrest of Fernando.
Sri Lanka’s Criminal Investigation Department obtained a travel ban against the pastor, but he was able to leave the country on May 14.
On his Instagram profile, he has called for a gathering with his followers at his church in Colombo on Sunday, May 21.
Father Cyril Gamini Fernando, chief editor of a Catholic newspaper in Colombo, reiterated Cardinal Ranjith’s stance and expressed concern over the lack of investigation into those behind the pastor.
“Statements like those of Pastor Jerome can create inter-religious conflicts,” said the priest, adding that people should be aware of those “fomenting ethnic and religious hatred.”
“Everyone in this country has the right to follow any faith, but no one has the right to insult the religion that others follow,” added the priest.