Sri Lankan Christians Speak Out on Conversion Restrictions, Violence

The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka released a statement on Wednesday addressing concerns about the attacks against Christian places of worship and the possible enactment of a legislation to restrict religious conversions.

The Council said recent attacks in Christian places of worship had not received swift and adequate responses from police. It hoped that equality among all people could be maintained. The Council also stated its hopes that authorities could act quickly when such problems ariso so that a bias would not communicated against a minority religion.

Also of concern to the Council were ongoing measures to enact legislation that would restrict conversions. It recognized the need to seek to outlaw "unethical conversions" but indicated that for various reasons, it would almost impossible to define the difference between forced and voluntary conversions.

The Council added that in a larger sense, such restrictions could impose upon the citizens' rights to freely choose a religion, belief or ideology, thereby creating reactionary processes that could extend to other areas.

Its motive for making the statement was to speak out on conversion restrictions before they became a reality, hoping to head off possible future obstruction of "individual choice and freedom."

Though mindful of the allegations that Christians were "buying converts," they condemned any such methods and expressed willingness to cooperate with investigations relating to such exploitations.

The statement also said the Council would welcome the establishment of an Inter Religions Council of religious leaders to facilitate communication and investigation of unethical religious practices.

The statement ended with a call for God to bless and unite the various communities in Sri Lanka.