LankaWeb – Sri Lanka must restrict religious leaders to their place of worship and away from politics
Sri Lanka must restrict religious leaders to their place of worship and away from politics
Posted on August 1, 2022
During ancient times in Sri Lanka, kings went for guidance as well as blessings from the Sangha. The kings went to the Sangha – the Sangha did not come to the king. The role of the Maha Sangha was advisory. The reverse is happening now. In the Western Hemisphere, the Church has played a key role in governance. Post-colonial rule, governance transferred to the state and its institutes. Religions were confined to their places of worship. However, in recent times we are witnessing an undesirable increase in interference in governance by religious bodies, sometimes in conflict with state governance. Currently we see religious leaders organizing demonstrations, processions, holding signs, inciting hatred, animosity and divisions between communities and making the country vulnerable to attack due to the negative publicity they generate locally and internationally through their conduct. This conduct has gone too far and beyond the levels of acceptability. The government must take steps to prevent all religious leaders from staying within their religious boundaries and not getting involved in politics unless the leaders come to them for advice.
President Ranil Wickremasinghe must consider the following:
- No Buddhist Theros in civilian universities: Return the Theros student to the Bhikku universities and separate them from the secular universities. This will prevent the growing number of men wearing Buddhist robes and behaving in an unruly manner, as seen in recent protests. We wonder if these robed men are real Buddhist heroes or university students in robes. To avoid such doubt, it is suggested that theros be separated from the laity.
- Buddhist clergy amid protests: It was such an ugly site and something Buddhists do not wish to encourage or see in the future. There were so-called Buddhist heroes pretending to observe වස් වසිනවා in the open Galle Face Green, making a joke about a Buddhist observance.
- Catholic Church: The Church is not only responsible for 500 years of colonial crimes, but has played a negative role since independence. Catholic Action by a segment of the military to overthrow the government in the 1960s, the Church directly implicated in LTTE terrorism and separatism in Sri Lanka, in the more recent ways the fathers and nuns of the Church were leading the recent protests. People have the right to protest, but do people need Buddhist heroes and Catholic priests to lead protesters? When the majority of Tamils are Hindus, why should Catholic priests play a leading role in aligning themselves with the LTTE fronts?
- Hindu and Islamic clergy – were also seen galvanizing young people during the protests. There is no requirement for any clergy to be involved in protests and this ugly practice must stop before it reaches ugly levels.
Religious leaders of all faiths should be ashamed that if people’s values have deteriorated, they are partly to blame because instead of bringing people closer to spirituality, they are busy inciting hatred in their minds.
As a result, people lose trust and respect towards religious leaders and this is not a very good sign and needs to be addressed.
In a world of stress and calamity, we expect much more than what spiritual leaders are currently doing (applicable to all religions). People cannot simply follow rituals or customs while religious leaders are busy playing politics. Leave the politics to the politicians and without pointing fingers at the politicians, the religious leaders must first do their duty.
Due to the conduct of religious leaders, people of these faiths have become disoriented and disillusioned and alienated, resulting in a society that has also lost the need to be spiritually awakened.
Leave the politics to the politicians – leave the protests to the demonstrators – … suggest that the religious leaders stick to what their robes tell them to do.
Shenali D Waduge
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