The Conversion Agenda

"Freedom to convert" is counterproductive as a generalized doctrine. It fails to come to terms with the complex interrelationships between self and society that make the concept of individual choice meaningful. Hence, religious conversion undermines, and in extremes would dissolve, that individual autonomy and human freedom.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Sri Lanka to Vote on Anti-Conversion Law

Thursday, April 14 , 2005, 17:32 (GMT)

The Short title of the proposed Act is 'Freedom of Religion Act'.

In the long title it is described thus:

"An Act to Protect the Freedom of Religion enjoyed by the People of Sri Lanka from Time Immemorial; to Encourage Mutual Cordiality between Peoples of All Religions; to Prohibit the Conversion of Persons espousing one Religion or holding or belonging to, one Religious Belief, Religious Persuasion or Faith, to another Religion, Religious Belief or Religious Persuasion or Faith, by the exercise of Force, Coercion, Allurement, Fraud or other unethical means; and to provide for Matters Connected therewith or incidental thereto."

The Sri Lanka has remained tense recently as the parliament prepares to vote on the Freedom of Religion Bill.

The proposed law contains rules to prevent people from changing their religion, and was formed by Sri Lanka's Minister of Buddhist Affairs, Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, with the support of the JHU - party of Buddhist monks.

If this law passes, it will forbid anyone to "unethically convert or attempt to unethically convert any other person espousing one religion ... to another religion, religious belief, religious persuasion or faith which such a person does not hold or belong to".

Penalties for breaking the law have been set up to a fine of around 100,000 rupees (£500) or a five year prison term.

Even though there will be a free vote on the Bill, as observers expressed; however, most of the MPs are expected to approve it, since there is very little chance for a secret ballot.


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