Front Page


Commission 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.

However from 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.

' Attention 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 states.

Citing instances 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 build churches.

The Muslim 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 these problems.

'While acknowledging 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.

The Commission 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.

Another matter 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 law.
The Commission has also drawn attention to economic and social influences on the Sasana.

'Such influence 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 Commission said.

Back to Top  Back to Front Page  

Copyright © 2001 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.
Contact us: | Editorial | | Webmaster|