On Easter Sunday, at least 290 people were killed by suicide bombers in attacks against Christians in Sri Lanka. More than 500 people were wounded.
Three churches and three hotels were the targets of the attacks, which mark the worst violence seen in Sri Lanka since the civil war ended in 2009. A blast also occurred at a house during a police raid shortly after the attacks.
24 people have been arrested in connection with the attacks, which authorities are now blaming on the National Thowheed Jamaath, a local Islamist militant group. They are suspected to have received assistance from foreign groups.
Sri Lanka's population is roughly 70% Buddhist, 13% Hindu, 10% Muslim, and 7% Christian.
The group's name roughly translates to National Monotheism Organization, according to Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne.
“We do not believe these attacks were carried out by a group of people who were confined to this country,” Senaratne said. “There was an international network without which these attacks could not have succeeded.”
According to reports, some government agencies in Sri Lanka had received a report warning that the group would commit attacks against churches and hotels weeks before. Despite this, they did not take necessary preventative measures.
In the wake of the attacks, the Sri Lankan government began enforcing a nationwide curfew. Social media apps like Facebook and WhatsApp are being blocked in an attempt to halt the spread of misinformation.
During Pope Francis's Easter address, he spoke of his “heartfelt closeness to the Christian community, attacked while gathered in prayer.”
On Monday, during a sermon, he asked people to help the island nation. “I hope that everyone condemns these terrorist acts, inhuman acts, never justifiable,” Francis said.
I do not often agree with Pope Francis, who is responsible for inhuman acts, too, but I have to agree. These horrific attacks once again illustrate the kinds of monstrous things people will do when they think that God is on their side.
As physicist Steven Weinberg has said, "With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion."
Witness the kind of devastation wrought by religion in Sri Lanka's churches.