Are Forcible Religious Conversions Part of Fundamental
Human Rights?

Sunny Mendes

Catholic Bishop Monsignor Oswald Thomas Colman Gomis says that “We are not in favour of the bill to prohibit forcible religious conversions tabled by Sri Lanka’s ruling political alliance as, in our opinion, a measure such as this limits is a restriction of fundamental human rights.” At first glance, one is simply flabbergasted at the stance of the Catholic Church on this issue - is Rev. Gomis saying that it is a fundamental human right to forcibly convert people to a certain religion?

If so, since when has it been a fundamental human right to forcibly convert people to a certain religion?

This was the type of reasoning that was used in the genocide of the people of South America by the invading Catholic armies, and is certainly not in tune with any civilized mode of behaviour or attitude. Forcibly converting people to a certain religion is not only contemptuous, but morally wrong and should be condemned in the strongest terms by people of all religions.

The government of Sri Lanka has decided to introduce these measures to prevent various foreign-funded Christian NGOs and fundamentalist Christian organisations from raking up religious discord through their anti-social activities.

Rev. Gomis, as citizens of Sri Lanka we must ask you how is it possible for the Catholic Church to support forcible religious conversions?

Does the Church support the use of force and fraud and in converting people?

By throwing its weight behind the fundamentalist organisations that have been creating religious discord in Sri Lanka through their unethhical activities, Rev. Gomis is playing into the hands of anti-Sri Lankan forces.

He must be well aware of the religious harmony that existed in Sri Lanka prior to the arrival of the Christian fundamentalists. That Rev. Gomis would want to support activities that breach religious harmony in Sri Lanka strikes at the heart of the Catholic Church and unfortunately, leads us to question whether it really does have Sri Lanka's interests at heart.

The government's proposed bill is not an attack on any religion, but merely prevents the forcible conversions of people to ANY religion. All right thinking people would support such a bill that reinforces and consolidates human rights.



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