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.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Buddhist Party Condemns US Stand on Anti-conversion Bill

[TamilNet, August 04, 2005 17:10 GMT]

The Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), all Buddhist monks' party in a letter to the United States Ambassador Mr.Jeffry Lunstead stated that "ultra fundamentalists group offer money and other financial benefits to our people and even the established Catholic and Christian Churches are against and have condemned these acts committed by these groups," and said that they are concerned by the statements of Deputy Secretary of State Christina Rocca. The letter also condemned the threats by the US Government to stop US aid funds to Sri Lanka.

Full text of the letter sent to the US embassy follows:

"We are deeply concerned about the recent statement made by your Deputy Secretary of State Ms. Christina Rocca with regard to the two Anti-Conversion Bills presented to the parliament of Sri Lanka one by our party and another by the Government. Your Government has threatened Sri Lanka with major consequences including termination of US funds if Parliament passes these bills on to law. We condemn this stand taken by your Government, as we believe your Government has no right to interfere in the internal affairs of the republic of Sri Lanka.

"The anti-conversion bill has become the most important issue in our country as there are attempts by many fundamentalists Christian groups operating in the pretext of social work to convert unethically our poor Buddhists and Hindu people to different sects of Christianity. These ultra fundamentalists groups offer money and other financial benefits to our poor people and even the established Catholic Church are against and have condemned these acts committed by these groups. Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country with 70% of its inhabitants practising the teachings of Lord Buddha. Article 09 of the Constitution of Sri Lanka very clearly states that Buddhism should be given the foremost place and the Republic should take all necessary steps to protect and foster Buddhism while assuring all other religions the right granted by Articles 10 and 14(1).

"We urge the Government of USA to honour and respect the Constitution of Sri Lanka. We believe your Government's opinion is baseless as there would be no barrier to any individual to change his/her religion on their own will after these bills are passed. We are only prohibiting unethical conversions, which we sincerely believe is a punishable offence.

"We earnestly request your Government to conduct a fair evaluation of these bills and support the efforts to bring greater co-operation among the peace loving people of our country who for centuries practiced religious freedom with the blessing of Lord Buddha.

"Many of these fundamentalists Christian groups are of US origin and we have sufficient information to prove of unethical conversions, which has been taking place during the last two decades and have accelerated after the December Tsunami devastation.

"We should be glad to have an appointment from your Excellency to brief you in detail about the bill and our aspirations with regard to this issue."

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