Sri Lanka must restrict Religious Leaders to their place of Worship & away from politics
During ancient times in Sri Lanka, the kings went and sought advice 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 played a key role in governance. Post-colonial rule, governance transferred to the State & its institutes. Religions were kept confined to their places of worship. However, of late, we see an unwelcome increase in the interference of governance by religious bodies, at times conflicting with state governance. Presently, we see religious heads organizing demonstrations, processions, holding placards, inciting hatred, animosity and divisions amongst communities as well as making the country vulnerable to attacks as a result of the negative publicity they are generating locally & international by their conduct. This conduct has gone too far & beyond levels of acceptability. The Government must take action to restrict all religious heads to remain within their religious confines and not get involved in politics unless leaders come to them for advice.
President Ranil Wickremasinghe must consider the following:
- No Buddhist Theros in Civil Universities: Return Student Theros to the Bhikku universities and separate them from laymen universities. This will stop the increasing numbers of men dressed in Buddhist robes and behaving in unruly manner as seen in the recent protests. We question whether these men in robes are real Buddhist theroes or university students dressed in robes. To prevent such doubt – it is suggested that theroes are separated from laymen.
- Buddhist clergy in the midst of protests: This was such an ugly site and something Buddhists do not wish to encourage or see in the future. There were some so-called Buddhist theroes claiming to observe වස් වසිනවා in the open air Galle Face Green, making a joke out of a Buddhist observance.
- Catholic Church: The Church is accountable not just for 500 years of colonial crimes but has played a negative role since independence. The Catholic Action by a segment of military to topple the government in 1960s, the Church directly involved in LTTE terrorism & separatism in Sri Lanka, to the more recent manner that Church fathers & nuns were steering the recent protests. People have a right to protest but do people need Buddhist theroes and Catholic priests to steer protestors? When majority of Tamils are Hindus, why would Catholic priests need to be taking a prominent role aligning with LTTE fronts?
- Hindu & Islamic clergy – were also seen galvanizing youth at the protests. There is no requirement for any clergy to be involved in protests & this ugly practice must stop before it reaches ugly levels.
The religious leaders of all faiths should feel ashamed that if people’s values have deteriorated, they are part responsible for instead of bringing people closer to spirituality, they are busy inciting hatred into their minds.
As a result people are losing confidence and respect in religious heads and this is not a very good sign and should be addressed.
In a world of stress & calamity, we expect much more than what the Spiritual Leaders are presently doing (applicable to all religions) People cannot be simply confined to following rituals or customs while religious heads are busy doing politics. Leave politics to the politicians and without pointing fingers at politicians, religious heads must do their duty first.
As a result of the conduct of religious heads, people of these faiths have become disoriented and disillusioned and distancing themselves resulting in a society that has lost the need to be spiritually awakened as well.
Leave politics to the politicians – leave protests to the protestors – … suggest religious heads remain confined to what their robes require them to do.
Shenali D Waduge