proposes action against unethical conversions
In its report released last week the Buddha Sasana Presidential
Commission states that there are 110 Christian associations registered
with the Registrar of Companies posing a threat to Buddhism with
the possibility of unethical conversions.
A chapter on conversions by missionaries gives its history starting
in 1505 with the Portuguese invasion of Sri Lanka.
1965 there had been an increase in the number of evangelical Christian
organisations taking root in Sri Lanka. Such organisations, according
to the Commission, focus on several social factors to lure potential
converts, the most common being poverty, unemployment, social injustice,
personal disputes, mental and emotional instability and destitution
due to war.
is drawn to the many social service non-governmental organisations
registered in the guise of helping the needy. Their prime objective
is to convert non-Christians. By March 2002 there were 110 Christian
associations registered with the Registrar of Companies' the report
where such organisations have built churches in predominantly Buddhist
areas, the report gives a detailed account of the activities carried
out by such organisations. It refers to police inaction when complaints
are lodged either for noise pollution or for land encroachment to
influence has also come to light. The Commission points out that
Muslim conversion takes place through marriages and in employment
opportunities in West Asia.
'It is a common
sight to see Muslim occupation in the midst of Buddhist archaeological
sites. One example is the Digawapi archaeological site which was
8000 acres in extent, but now stands at less than 600 acres. There
are two mosques built on the road leading to the Digawapi temple
and a lot of Muslims residing in the area' the report states. The
Buddha Sasana Commission has put forward several proposals to resolve
that every citizen has the right to embrace any religion the Commission
disapproves forcible conversions mentioned in the findings. Using
money and power to convert is unethical. Legislation should be brought
to prevent such conversions' it said.
has suggested an advisory board comprising all religious heads.
Once a complaint is lodged the board has to take it up and come
to a decision.
The Commission has suggested the Buddha Sasana Ministry's recommendations
should be sought in issuing visas to missionaries.
under review by the Commission is the threat to artefacts in temples.
The Commission points out that there has been an increase during
the last two decades.
As a short
term plan the Commission has suggested that laws pertaining to the
Archaeological Act be strengthened besides the Immigration and Emigration
The Commission has also drawn attention to economic and social influences
on the Sasana.
has led society towards a competitiveness which has resulted in
the diminishing of Buddhist principles. Politics too pose a challenge
to the people, where divisions are created. Such divisions lead
to hate and injustice. The growing violence in society is also a
result of this' it said. The Commission has been critical of prelates
taking to politics.
' Laymen look
up to the monks with respect. They associate the monks with the
temple and the religion. The people have a right to choose a political
party, but it is not right for any prelate to support a particular
party. If they take to politics it is an insult to Buddhism', the