THE ROLE OF RELIGIONS AND RELIGIOUS RECONCILIATION IN SRI LANKA
Posted on December 28th, 2019

BY EDWARD THEOPHILUS

Why religions emerged to this world and when religions emerged are hard questions to answer because nobody can give specific and clear answers to these questions. People can recollect that when they born, religions were existing and some historians attempted to interpret that the beginning of religions was to get a relief for the fear of human minds and the practical results of the operation of religions in this world showed that religions made a tremendous contribution to the human civilization, which supported to change the culture (rules and regulations) as well as opened to intervention for the benefits of people. 

The most remarkable nature of religions was they were operating and working with human minds to understand the right behavior to perform good work in society.  Therefore, religions also contributed to create a peaceful world despite the conflicts between religions on various matters such as faiths, practices and justice. While appreciating the services of religions people should not ignore that religions have mythical beliefs that cannot be seen by human eyes after death, which is an event ending the material body of human life. Whichever religion to associated with a person, the outcome expected by a human from religion is the liberation of humanness which is believed to be associated with enjoyment of life that is not with the material body. As Aristotle interpreted humanness is the feature that exists regardless of any difference between humans and the way lead all humanity to equality.  Humanness also shows the difference between human and animal and human and any other materials which have a life.  For example, when a human passed away, we detect that a human died and when an animal or a plant died it doesn’t recognize the way that a human passed away.

When people think in this way the reconciliation between religions is not a hard task and is an essential condition that is expected by the fundamental objectives of religions.  Theoretical differences or faith-related matters are parts of secular life and the purpose of any religion goes beyond the secular aims and people with a conscious mind feel why religious reconciliation could not be achieved in Sri Lanka. The founding philosophy of a religion is that it should not go against humanity or human values. However, if we go to the past, we can observe many occasions that recorded religious directions had gone beyond humanity and human values.  The bomb attacks in churches on the Easter Sunday was a clear example that religious beliefs of certain people have gone beyond the humanity and human values and the acts cannot recognize as a religious event but it was an act against the practicality of humanness or the purpose of human as interpreted by Aristotle, who clearly explained the purpose of human.

In this environment how to initiate religious reconciliation in Sri Lanka. might be an issue as the believers of different religions operating in the country are not ready to sacrifice own idea or mythical views of religions and lack of understanding of the benefits of religious reconciliation to the country. Conflicts between religions or religious extremists reflect that they have no understanding of the roles of religions and benefits could be generated to society from working with the concept of religions.  It also seems that many people in the country have affectioned politics than own religions and this situation uses to promote conflicts between religions.

Politics is a secular matter, which associates with individual gains or promoting desires despite the objectives of religions to get away from desires and to align with the spiritual aims of the human being.  Politics also ephemeral achievements that would not last long and the use of religions for such temporary indulgence has been the clear nature of the country in the past.

The major impediment to religious reconciliation in Sri Lanka appears to be pathetic operations of certain Christian sects, which may have underhand objectives that could not be verified from the official corporate church. Catholic church, Anglican church and traditional Christian churches such as Methodist church, Baptise Church, etc have corporate leaders to take responsibility for operational actions in the country, but some church groups have not responsible leaders and many instances revealed that people or the government or any other churches have no idea about leaders of unknown churches and what are the policies of them and how they receive finance for expenses.  The operational activities of these strange churches are issues to the Catholic church and other traditional churches such as Anglican, Baptist, Methodist churches.

These strange churches work against traditional Christian churches and some secular matters such as offering money or other benefits to convert people associated with other religions.  The government of Sri Lanka has not developed appropriate policies to control the roles played by strange churches and many people view that strange churches associated with foreign NGOs and work to achieve political objectives of foreign NGOs.

The Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s addressed the issues about the role of religion and religious reconciliation and the national council conducted by the Catholic church in Sri Lanka in 1967 authorized to religious reconciliation especially with Buddhism.  Since then the Catholic Church of Sri Lanka and Buddhism have a good reconciliation and there are no problems between the Catholic church and Buddhism. In this situation the government can play a good role appointing a group to develop policies to inter-religious reconciliation

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